Cancel Culture: End a Career in 280 Characters


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Max Mower, Centurion Staff

In modern times, social media has become a means of enacting justice on those who may have once seemed invulnerable to criticism. However, this justice can sometimes be wielded irresponsibly.
This false sense of justice is the source of the phenomenon we now know as “cancel culture,” where those who intend to act in the name of good sometimes tear down and destroy the lives of often undeserving targets.
While the idea of “cancelling” seems to be a modern convention, people in the public eye have been put on social trial many times in past and present. One such being the infamous Monica Lewinsky, the woman then president Bill Clinton had been pursuing an affair with.
When the news broke about their affair, Lewinsky was thrown into a flurry of intense judgement and accusations upon her character – a ruthless “cancelling” by mobs of people nationwide, many of which unwilling to hear the woman’s side of the story.
This endless desire of the people to take down any of those we see with even the subtlest of flaws has continued on into the modern day, albeit through different methods. Social media is allowing many to bring about their own justice with a swiftness not seen in the past.
The relentless attack on those we see as having done wrong can have some ill effects. Media has allowed many to bring down those who deserve to be exposed for their actions.
The Me Too movement allowed women all over the world to speak up about sexual assault, creating a stunning example of the power we as people have to punch up at people who take advantage of those underneath them.
Social media has been the main avenue in which these takedowns occur, as it allows for easy and instant reach to thousands of people. In many cases, though, despite holding no ill intent, people can become too easily incensed to use the power of media to tear down unsuspecting victims.
“We’re socialized with justice in mind,” said Bucks Communications professor Shawn Queeney. “A lack of power pushes us to work towards peace and resolution.”
Those who participate in the public hunting of powerful people are oftentimes working with justice in mind. This never-ending need to create a social utopia where bigotry and oppressive ideologies no longer exist is well intended, but tends to lead to biased and impulsive condemnations of public figures in a medium where they are allowed no due process or legal guidelines that allow them to express their side of the story, assuring an easy and quick takedown when the victim has no room to defend.
“People don’t realize how much power we have,” said Professor Queeney when asked about the questionable ways in which we discuss these issues when putting someone through these metaphorical trials. “We should all learn to engage in these social and political discussions in person instead of behind screens”.
While “cancelling” powerful figures can oftentimes result in positive outcomes, we as a diverse society need to consider more the implications of a world where anyone’s career can be ruined in under 280 characters, as well as how the media platforms we use may unjustly benefit from the rage and debate these public hunts spark.