How to Fight the Laziness of Canceling Culture

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It is easy to cancel an individual or an organization, especially in this age of online platforms. Creating a momentum in which the accused are publicly singled out for their unacceptable behavior and building support for the cancellation of that unit takes only a few minutes on a keyboard. In a short period of time, that person’s (or company’s) life can be significantly changed, not only in the present, but forever. Online messages are permanent and can be repeatedly called, traced and used against an individual.

What if that person has grown, matured or learned? What if that organization reformed, took on new leadership, and created new structures that reflect the change? The final question is whether the past should continue to define that person or group if their present revision reflects that. Certainly, through cancellation culture, the past defines the person now and forever and there is a quick retribution for unacceptable behavior. But it does not create authentic change and revision while providing opportunities for people to grow.

related: How brands deal with online haters, trolls and cancel culture

punishment vs education

Here’s an example: A 13-year-old eighth-grader used racial slurs in a sleepover. Another girl captured the moment on video and posted it on social media. The 13-year-old apologized after appearing in front of some of her friends, but by that time, the video had gone viral across her city. He was dropped from the elite lacrosse team he has been on for three years. Her acceptance into a private high school was revoked. Her elder siblings are being harassed on social media, with some asking her sister to kill herself. The local store owned by her father for 15 years was boycotted and closed. Her mother was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence from her role as the vice president of a local business.

Not only was the 13-year-old girl canceled, but her entire family was also cancelled.

So what is the purpose of canceling culture? Essentially, it is punishment – ​​retribution for statements or behaviors that are not acceptable by societal standards. In many instances, it seems that the goal is to make the person irrelevant. This can be a fair consequence for those who show no apology or acceptance for the negative effects of their behavior. But what about those who show genuine repentance?

related: How companies can avoid cancellation

consider it the case of alexie mccommond, At the age of 27, she was named the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue. Two weeks later, he resigned due to homophobic and racist tweets he wrote as a teenager going public. She had already apologized and deleted the tweets in 2019, and apologized again when they surfaced again. Regardless, he was rescinded for the horrific comments he made 10 years ago. But the question becomes, who got the outcome – the 17-year-old who made the comment, or the 27-year-old who has already expressed remorse on more than one occasion?

If cancel culture isn’t about punishment, is it about education – teaching a person what is unacceptable and giving them room to grow?

It doesn’t seem so. If a person is excommunicated, there is no opportunity to educate that person. Let’s go back to the 13-year-old lacrosse player. He and his family were canceled. Without connections, this girl may have fewer opportunities to grow from her ignorance. He was cut off from his social groups. She lost parts of her identity as a team member, as a student at her chosen school, and as an accepted member of society that may have helped her positive growth. This is where the cancellation culture is lazy.

related: 10 questions to ask if your reputation is under attack

the power of revision culture

What if, instead of canceling these individuals, society uses these opportunities to change toxic thoughts and attitudes? McCammond could work with national organizations to use the publication as a platform for dialogue to fight homophobia and racism. With a lacrosse player, connect with local black leaders for one-on-one conversations. She needs to devote time volunteering to organizations that support BIPOC youth. Have him present his learning experiences to a panel of school administrators and local black leaders for potential team and school restoration.

This approach will take more effort, but it provides an opportunity to make lasting change. Rather than teaching people to hide their prejudices (which creates covert racism), this type of approach allows them to confront and possibly change their own racist attitudes. This avoids setting people up with no positive outlet, which can easily lead to social groups that will nurture racism. In short, canceled culture may inadvertently add to the growing divisions in our society, instead of finding ways to bring people together.

related: Sidestep Cancellation Culture: 3 Ways to Manage Your Reputation Online

How Organizations Can Foster a Revision Culture

There are two ways organizations can create a culture focused on revision rather than repeal:

  1. Create a protocol. In some situations, a cancellation culture occurs before an investigation is conducted and evidence is found. It is essential to establish a clear protocol for situations involving accusations of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors to allow for clear process in an emotionally charged situation. The protocol should also include how the organization will address the situation and the individual if the allegation is based on fact. In what cases would the person be removed from the organization due to lack of remorse or the seriousness of the behavior? In what cases will rehabilitation opportunities be allowed, and what is needed for this? All these decisions have to be taken before any situation that may arise in order to avoid impulsive actions.
  2. Install Resources. This is an essential piece for building the protocol around a culture modification. Organizational leaders must establish genuine connections within their network and community. First, it creates an organizational culture that reflects the importance of dialogue and interaction with individuals from different backgrounds. Leaders secretly or openly foster a culture of learning from others to build bridges rather than create divisions. Second, when leaders have these connections within their networks, these connections become resources for change when toxic situations arise, potentially providing avenues for growth and learning.

Ultimately, a revision can be a long-term solution to culture change. Rather than quashing the punishment response to a culture of blackballing an individual, the revision culture may focus on the education and rehabilitation of the individual or organization. It may offer healing rather than dispel the cancer of hatred and ignorance.