BY CHRISTYANNE SAN JUAN
Photo courtesy of AP Images.
It is one of the most fundamental pieces of knowledge regarding the internet: Everything you post is permanent.
Never before has this rung so true since the emergence of “cancel culture.” The term signifies a phenomenon unique to the modern age; more information is out on the internet than ever before, and it is almost impossible to use the internet without leaving behind a significant digital footprint.
With a megaphone for all of our mouths and a platform for everyone to share their thoughts, it is pretty much guaranteed that anything you tweet or post will be read or seen by somebody on the web. This leaves behind what nonprofit organization Internet Society refers to as a near-perfect digital footprint behind for potential friends, followers and employers — not to mention, providing more work for public relations advisers than ever before.
So what exactly is cancel culture?
Cancel culture is the idea of “canceling” a celebrity or public figure once the general public has discovered that they have committed problematic offenses in the past. It is social condemnation in a sense, with a collective refusal to support the perpetrator or any of their endeavors.
The idea itself seems like a positive thing. It is important to be socially aware and to keep in mind the type of people you support in addition to the ethics of giving these people a spotlight. However, it also does not leave behind much room to learn from and move past their mistakes, and herein lies the primary flaw in this phenomenon.
Canceling a human being denies them the opportunity to grow. Every person has had misinformed, or flat-out incorrect opinions, and now, we all carry an additional permanent timeline of mistakes available to anyone at the click of a button. Because of this, it is increasingly difficult to distance yourself from the person that you were before. Apologies are disregarded more often than not and those once thought to be infallible are instantly seen as irredeemable because of a singular mistake.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions as to who deserves forgiveness or not. It is always disappointing when someone who we supported commits an offense that is ignorant or just profane, and a consistent history of repeated offenses can diminish our hope for a person’s reformation. Nevertheless, it is also vital to be conscious of the inherently imperfect nature of human beings.
Despite living in an age of information, we are not all as socially informed as we should be. Every single person is growing and maturing and the extraordinarily public nature of the internet does not change that. In actuality, this fact should encourage us not to lose our sense of empathy for others, as we would wish the same from those around us.
We cannot view humans through a two-dimensional view of “good or bad”. People are much more complex and there are personal experiences inspiring every thought and decision that we have. No one is without flaws, and what defines us is not the mistakes that we make but whether we decide to learn from them and become better people as result.