This could also be titled, “What Price, Isolation?”
For after years of denying it exists, and denying its power, people are now openly acknowledging “cancel culture.” The true might of social networking has been revealed: punishing anyone deemed worthy of punishment, no matter how small and inconsequential.
If you don’t know (Agent Bun doesn’t), it’s a cute name in the social media age for leveraging corporate panic about trending hashtags or campaigns to get shows cancelled. It’s about sending angry notes to have have advertisers look elsewhere, or getting your friends to sign a petition on a site like change dot org, which is actually just an email collecting service for political causes.
Like anything else on social media, that part’s been done before but everyone acts like it’s some innovation. The difference is that you don’t have to rely on a slow-moving letter writing campaign or sit on phone banks like Terry Rakolta, who tried to cancel Married…with Children, or the people who protested the release of Silent Night, Deadly Night.
She had to research phone numbers and advertisers for her campaign. Now, you can have a hashtag trend instantaneously and once that’s noticed, the pressure can mount exponentially.
And now it can be leveraged to destroy individual people, even if they were just having a really bad day. While I’m sure we’re going to be inundated eventually with poorly-written pieces in The New York Times about how two people who cost each other jobs found the path to forgiveness, right now any moment can cost you everything.
They’re probably going to make a movie of it. Oh no, I just spoke it into existence.
As we’ve all been forcibly locked away from each other for some time as of this writing, this urge seems to be getting worse.
People sick of cancel culture are trying to turn it against people to give them a taste of their own medicine. People sick of the people who are sick of cancel culture are now angry that their tool for punishing people is being used to punish people.
I’m not linking to anything because this isn’t even what I’d originally intended to write. I wanted to do something “light.”
But it’s heartbreaking where we seem to be heading.
What everyone seems to forget, regardless of the side of the debate on which they find themselves, is that this is simply a lesson in mob rule. Mobs are easily manipulated as it is.
Right now, the mob is angry and has been robbed of socializing contact. They no longer have to interact with people in social settings. People are no more than characters on a screen. They are abstract villains to conquer.
And so we’re all becoming more than a little psychotic. We have the collective empathy of a psycho killer and the mercy of The Punisher.
It’s got to stop.
Welcome to the Social Media Age!
I’m sorry that bad things happen or people say nasty things. I wish people didn’t. I wish that I didn’t, when I get upset. But wiping someone out isn’t the answer.
Mercy and understanding is the only way out of this hellish trap. Let’s all make a pact just to take it easy and remember that people are fallen creatures. Sometimes they’re terrible. But let’s make sure the punishment is proportional to the infraction.
Because everyone’s going to have their turn there eventually. Let’s treat others with the forgiveness we’d want shown to us.
3 thoughts on “Generation Punisher”
My view is that this is largely preaching to the choir. Most people hate cancel culture. The problem is that a tiny number of squeaky wheels (whose identities vary from incident to incident) are driving all of this. The masses don’t knock them down because they don’t want to be next. They don’t want their embarrassing past to be exposed, and they don’t want their employer’s to be forced to throw them under the bus.
Most people aren’t into cancel culture, but they *are* cowards.
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Completely agree on the cowardice point. And that’s what gives the cowards the power to do this garbage.
Actually, since I posted this, it has been argued to me that “not one” instance of cancelling wasn’t justified, while also agreeing that it’s necessary to judge on a case-by-case basis to make sure the punishment is commensurate with the infraction. Which, I think, speaks to the mixed signals aspect; it seems to me there is a not-insignificant number of people who agree that “mob rule is wrong,” but until they have “proof” that mob rule has done some *specific* damage with which they disagree, it’s not worth a second thought. That plugs into the very idea of vigilante justice, that “so long as bad people suffer, the means by which that’s accomplished is not a bad thing.” I find that unsettling.
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