The Problem with Cancel Culture
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Lately we have been seeing the rise of cancel culture like never before, and it makes me wonder, how did we get to this place of living in such an overly sensitive society?
Think about it, people had survived wars, revolutions, famine, economic crashes, but I highly doubt they did so by being constantly offended by other people’s opinions. What happened to our society that just about anything can now be twisted into an offensive act that "needs" to be reprimanded or, at the very least, called out?
The truth is, the way to develop authentic and ever-lasting self-confidence is not through the censorship of dissenting views. After all, no one ever develops a thick skin by being handled with kid gloves. Instead, we need to embrace diversity of perspective and know that our value does not begin and end with other people.
We have increasingly become a culture of intolerant ninnies who are constantly offended by every little thing, so much so that governments, mainstream media, and social platforms have started stripping away our right to free speech under the supposed guise of not wanting to offend people’s delicate sensibilities. Of course there are some exceptions, but most of the time it seems like cancel culture has unreasonably superseded the honesty and integrity of expression. In fact, it's taken things even further by patronizing people's intelligence and ability to make their own judgments between "right" and "wrong."
So, here’s some advice to those toting political correctness to the extreme, as well as anyone who gets offended way too easily: If you want to stop being offended, stop looking to others for approval. That’s pretty much it. If you want to be self-confident, then find your confidence from within so that no matter what anyone says to you, you’ll actually be okay.
I was teased as a child and, yes, it affected me then. But I quickly realized that when I no longer responded or reacted, the bullying simply stopped. When I no longer cared or gave weight to other people’s opinions of me, I was finally free from insult. Perhaps society should veer down this same path because there will always be people who disagree, and that is as it should be. No two people are exactly alike, and society’s diversity is based on precisely that premise. That’s what makes life so interesting, for if we all agreed on everything, things would be pretty dull indeed. Moreover, probably not much would get accomplished because without a difference of opinion, and subsequent debate, innovation would inevitably be stifled.
No, people aren’t always nice. But that doesn’t mean that we need to believe them. How others choose to behave is their prerogative. But how we choose to respond is completely up to each of us. We can choose to take everything personally, or we can choose to learn from our differences, even when we do not always agree.
If someone says something that offends us, we needn’t cower or go crying into a pillow or complain about it online. We simply need to suck it up. If we don’t like what someone is saying, we can just choose to disengage. If we feel that there is injustice in the world, we can speak up but we needn’t worry if others will agree. We are coming dangerously close to a type of society in which language itself is becoming "too provocative," basic definitions are being altered, and words (often without context) are being judged and categorized as either “woke” or just plain ignorant, with nothing in between. But all of this is subjective, which is why we cannot allow a cancel culture to dictate what we can or cannot say. Because if we do allow that to happen, and without measure, there will simply be no free speech left for us to enjoy.
So, is this where our society is headed? Are we going to be so afraid to speak our minds that we end up no longer using language at all? Maybe we’ll just pass each other by and nod our heads in recognition. But even then, I am sure we’ll start getting offended by how other people look at us, and maybe even by what they think.
The truth is, cancel culture has gotten considerably out of control, and it’s on a path to getting even worse. And so, if we want to moderate it, we basically just need to toughen up.