If you have ever been online, you have likely seen someone get cancelled by online users. Whether it is quote retweets on Twitter or private death threats, cancel culture does more harm than good. Cancel culture is when the public expresses their disapproval of somebody’s actions to exert social change. It has existed for centuries, in the way of public trials and humiliation. However, the ‘society’ of cancel culture has grown considerably because of the internet, and cancelling someone on the world stage upends their entire life.

Cancellers (those who try to end a career based on one’s previous and current mistakes) often seek public validation. They call offenders out with the intent to be seen as heroic and morally high and not to stop the actual issue at hand. In the court of public opinion, there is no real law for what is right and what is wrong—just people’s personal morals, which differ and develop.

Attacking and cancelling someone for saying something controversial or different creates a fear of speaking out. You are elementally telling toxic people that they will not get away with what they are doing, but you are also telling people that they cannot speak their minds or they will be ostracized by society.

Cancel culture is especially hard on unestablished creators, and the effects are career-breaking. Unless the person being called out has wide influence and their actions could grow worthy of worldwide public shame, do not cancel them. In local matters, taking things to the internet can cost the offender their entire livelihood, and creates a severely disproportionate battle.

What should be done instead? We should spark dialogue between conflicting parties, as well as hold people accountable for their actions without exaggerating the offence. We also should not bring local issues to a global stage. Instead, we should work things out within our own communities first. Even if something is a worldwide issue, reprimanding one person publically will not change the underlying problem.

Cancel culture does not always change or address larger issues at play, because of its focus on the individual. For example, if someone makes a racist comment, they are racist but only because racism exists in society as a whole. The same resources should be put into solving the core issue instead of attacking a single perpetrator. If we resolve issues at a local level instead of instantly bringing them to a global stage, we can slowly fix the problem from the inside out.


[1] Webster, M. (n.d.). Cancel culture. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancel%20culture

[1] demonofdreams. (2020, December 10). Cancel culture is not social “justice”. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBcHhvQCLNQ&ab_channel=Gothix.

[1] CBSNewsOnline (Producer). (2020, August 13). CBSN Originals presents “Speaking Frankly: Cancel Culture” | Full Documentary [Video file]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ-VxPfmml0 [1] CBSNewsOnline (Producer). (2020, August 13). CBSN Originals presents “Speaking Frankly: Cancel Culture” | Full Documentary [Video file]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ-VxPfmml0