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Cancel culture: accountability or bullying?

today10 January 2024 30

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In recent years, cancel culture has gained significant traction, becoming a prominent aspect of our online and offline interactions. While it aims to hold individuals accountable for their actions, cancel culture also has downsides. Let’s delve into the negative consequences of cancel culture and explore how it lends itself to the toxicity of an environment, hinders productive dialogue, and diminishes the potential for growth and understanding.

Listen to the podcast: What does the Bible say about cancel culture? 

1. A culture of self-censorship

Cancel culture often fosters an environment of fear and hostility. The fear of being “cancelled” can stifle freedom of expression and discourage individuals from speaking their minds. It can result in a culture of self-censorship, where people are afraid to voice their opinions, even when they may contribute to meaningful discussions. This toxic environment can lead to a chilling effect on free speech, as people worry about the potential backlash and repercussions of expressing divergent views.

2. Lack of nuance & context

Cancel culture tends to oversimplify complex issues. The quick judgment and condemnation without considering the context or intent behind someone’s actions can be detrimental. It disregards the possibility of growth and learning from mistakes. By focusing solely on punishment, cancel culture often fails to facilitate a nuanced understanding of the situation, hindering opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation. Of course, in some instances, the correct amount of tension must be held between punitive measures, such as cancelling people or things, and restorative measures, like engaging in robust dialogue without fear of backlash or being silenced.

3. Impact on mental health

Let’s face it: cancel culture is relentless and can have severe consequences on the mental health of individuals being targeted. Especially if the grounds for their punishment are baseless. Public shaming, online harassment, and the loss of one’s reputation can lead to significant emotional distress. The fear of being cancelled and the associated anxiety can take a toll on mental well-being, affecting one’s self-esteem and overall quality of life. Moreover, the fear of past mistakes resurfacing can create a constant state of anxiety, inhibiting personal growth and hindering the potential for positive change.

Cancel culture often focuses on punishment rather than fostering a culture of restoration. While accountability is essential and non-negotiable, there should also be room for growth, education, and rehabilitation. Instead of completely isolating individuals, cancel culture could allow them to acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them, and actively work towards making amends. By neglecting restorative justice, cancel culture misses an opportunity for personal growth and collective healing.

If you’re caught between being cancelled without the opportunity to make amends and finding that it is affecting your mental health, please contact the Free Counselling helpline on 076 037 6345 (WhatsApp, SMS or Call). Reach out to us in the same way if you enforce cancelling people without leaving room for dialogue or education and you want to do and be better.

A balance between accountability and compassion is key to fostering a more inclusive and empathetic society.

Written by Kabelo Milton.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and not I Am Youth.

Written by: Han

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