Cancel culture has climbed the ranks of social media to become a divisive topic that continuously infiltrates society. It has not only found a foothold among celebrities, but it has also begun to impede regular people’s everyday lives. Cancel culture has ended some careers while bolstering others, so what is cancel culture really doing?
I asked Jasmine Bojorquez, a second year mechanical engineering major at UNLV, what she thought about the issue. “Initially, I was behind the idea of cancel culture; people should be held accountable for their actions, especially people with power like celebrities. However, all it became was celebrities like Shane Dawson and James Charles playing the victim and going unpunished for their wrongdoings. Because these are people with a fan base and money, they observe very different consequences than if a teacher was caught doing the same things with students.”
Bojorquez highlights a very noticeable disparity between the consequences that people with power face versus regular, everyday people. Some notable celebrities like Shane Dawson and James Charles seem to have never faced consequences for their actions against minors. What if a teacher was caught doing something with minors? Criminal charges would’ve been pressed, and they would’ve lost their job.
A quick Google search reveals that there are consequences for teachers who develop any relations with their students. Celebrities, on the other hand, are able to issue a quick apology, play victim and find sympathy from their undying fans. They might see slight setbacks in their following, but they usually gain it back in the form of free publicity.
However, it isn’t the same for everyday people. In most cases, a regular person can’t issue an apology and expect everything to go away. In some cases, the financial consequences are more extreme.
In recent years, people have turned to social media to attempt to hold people accountable and document their actions. On TikTok and Instagram, people have created entire accounts, dedicated to finding everything about a person and publishing it, known as doxing. This has not only led to people being held accountable online, but also in their immediate life.
Recently, the trend has cracked down on workers of the medical community, like pharmacists and nurses, for being anti-vaccination. It also affects those who demonstrate slander towards marginalized communities on any social media platform.
Many times the response of employers is to let go of the employee that has caused controversy to avoid any backlash towards the company. Many times, regular people who are canceled rely on the next paycheck to support their families. It would be wrong to say that people shouldn’t be held accountable, but is the appropriate response to take away one’s ability to feed their children and support their family? This could quite literally cripple a family’s livelihood.
Cancel culture lacks a method to hold those in positions of power accountable in a meaningful way that does not destroy the common person who is held accountable. It’s one thing for a millionaire to lose a few thousand dollars, but it is quite another for someone to lose most of their income. Then, what would be an effective and appropriate punishment?
On the plus side, cancel culture has become a machine of social justice that holds people accountable for their statements or actions via boycotts or employer action. It provides marginalized communities the voice and power against powerful people who have slandered them.
It is not to say people shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions, but for the everyday person, it is a trend that has gone too far, no longer focused on exposing celebrities, but tearing down people who may have simply made a mistake. There is a bitter side to cancel culture that everyone must evaluate before participating in it, and it is not something that many do at the moment.