In a world ruled by social media, it’s hard to hide your past from prying eyes. It has now become quite normal for old mistakes made by celebrities in their youth to resurface online and go viral. What follows soon after is what the internet coined as undo. The celebrity in question has his career in shreds within days, all his dirty laundry exposed to the world. Although it seems like a just punishment in some cases, what business do we have in judging people for things they did when they were younger?
Cancellation culture started out as a way to hold people accountable, but now people get canceled for ridiculous reasons, and their lives are never the same afterwards. How are we as a society going to preach things like “learn from your mistakes” and then proceed to cancel someone for a trivial matter, ruining their entire reputation.
One of the most common scandals people get canceled for is old tweets that contain racist comments or slurs. In most cases, tweets are over 10 years old, and most people change quite drastically over the course of 10 years. That’s not to say that a racist comment or a racial slur are excusable offences, because they aren’t, but the fact that people have their whole lives ruined because of things they would probably never say about our days is the problem here. If a person is able to take ownership of their offense, apologize, and actively work to become a better human, why should we as outsiders have the power to blacklist them?
At the same time, if someone deletes their ignorant old tweets, but there is a copy somewhere, that can also lead to undoing. If the public is made aware that someone deleted their old tweets without acknowledging why they decided to delete them, it is often assumed that this was an attempt to hide their past.
Claudia Oshry, a social media personality, defined cancel culture as follows: “Whether a celebrity makes a misstep, speaks poorly or commits an actual crime, they are judged by the court of public opinion. and, often too quickly, deemed canceled or terminated.”
While it may be unnecessary in some cases, cancel culture has a silver lining. For example, when Travis Scott’s music festival went deadly, he was quickly canceled and blamed for not handling the situation well. Unfortunately, its cancellation didn’t last long, as people tend to ignore this stuff after a while. Once Scott thought he might face real negative repercussions, he offered to pay the funeral costs for the 11 people killed. This led to fans continuing to support Scott, and it didn’t end up being canceled as originally thought.
SSU student William Hunt said, “The blame should have fallen on everyone involved rather than the performer,” in reference to the Travis Scott festival.
Likewise, with the rise of TikTok, more and more people are using the app to call people out for misdeeds. Usually, a user makes a video exposing someone’s unsavory behavior that they posted, and the video usually goes viral. This viral video then causes the person at fault to face real consequences, such as being fired from their job or expelled from school.
Sonoma State graduate Ashley Cain commented, “If someone is constantly ignorant with no intention or intention to grow up, then cancellation is more appropriate,” she continued, “There’s a air of responsibility not to continuously spread harmful agendas and reinforce oppressive narratives that as a society we strive to change in the name of equity.
Although freedom of expression exists, the fact that people can share their negative and hurtful opinions and think that they will be exempt from any consequences is detrimental.