By Ameara Ditsche
It is not at all uncommon to log on to social media and see that another celebrity or influencer has been “cancelled,” which is the term used for when a person is socially shunned or boycotted due to a problematic occurrence.
Recently, at the center of cancelled culture is YouTuber, Shane Dawson. Dawson is no stranger to scandals as he’s faced much backlash throughout his career over allegations of things like racism and pedophilia. The most recent, being bestiality.
This came from Dawson’s resurfaced podcast where he said he ejaculated on his cat. In the clip, he details masturbating and finishing onto his cat’s stomach. At the time, he told it as if it was a true story; but now he claims it was a joke.
Dawson has apologized and issued an ultimately controversial statement over the situation. His statement, a tweet worded redundantly and aggressively has since been parodied and turned into a meme.
Dawson, however, is not the first person this has happened to. With social media becoming an increasingly common staple in our lives, almost everything we say or do is recorded in some way, including mistakes. With these being preserved forever online, it is incredibly easy for anyone to bring them to the forefront at any time.
While this can be useful in situations where the cancelled person is dangerous in a way, it is more often toxic and disallows people from learning and growing past mistakes.
There are obvious exceptions to the excuse “young and dumb” but there are even more situations that can be easily excused as young and dumb. Ill-timed jokes and uninformed opinions are things that are easy and common to grow past. We have all been ignorant. Ignorance is not inherently a bad thing. There is no cruel intentions, simply the lack of understanding, and in some cases the capacity to understand.
By instantly cancelling anyone who made a mistake in the past, people are discouraged from growing and changing because what’s the point then? If I were shamed for who I was when I was 15, I’d probably eventually undo everything I’ve done to not be 15 year old Ameara. If you are going to be constantly confronted with your past, it is difficult to not slip back into it.
A good example of cancelled culture is Johnny Depp and how his ex-wife, Amber Heard accused him of abuse. With domestic violence being a huge issue for women, people rallied around Heard and “cancelled” Depp.
However, It was recently revealed that it was actually Heard abusing Depp. Heard physically, emotionally, and financially hurt Depp during and after their relationship. The internet was wrong to be so quick to cancel Depp here.
Luckily, Depp is now safe and widely forgiven, but what if the stakes were higher? The cancelling of innocent people could cause them a lot of harm.
Despite your view of a person, it is important to do research and consult facts when forming an opinion on a situation. Cancelled culture doesn’t allow room or time for that. It is instantaneous and incredibly biased.
Social media has a huge impact on our opinions. Especially on the younger generation, who typically look up to social media influencers. Once they look up to someone, they consider them an authority on most issues. They allow these influencers to define what is a “good” and “bad” opinion. This includes when they see someone they have assigned this authority to “cancel” someone.
Democracy is built on the freedom of thought and everyone having a voice. By accepting other people’s opinions as absolute truth, you silence yourself.