When social media was first introduced to the world through Facebook in 2004, it was a fun way to connect with friends and family. Through the development of more social media apps, it can still be a fun way to connect with other people, but it also can be dangerous. Social media can record everything said and posted by a specific person, and their past may come back to haunt them in later life. When a social media user, who has a lot of followers, has done or said something in the past, it is often revealed, and then people turn their backs on said influencers; this is known as cancel culture. Cancel culture can be used to hold people accountable or to deliver unjust punishment, and there is an excellent line between the two.
To begin, there are many positives to cancel culture: it can reveal a famous person’s racist past, it can warn others not to follow a specific person, and it can be used to get a “bad” person off social media. There are two levels to canceling; one is the influencer with a few million followers on Instagram or TikTok, and the other is the attempt to balance a big celebrity. One example of a smaller star is TikToker Emma Lu (emmuhlu), who was canceled due to saying racist words when she was younger. This cancellation went as far as even having the famous rapper, Cardi B, criticize Lu on Instagram. This use of canceling was a good way of letting users of TikTok know about Emma Lu’s past and to help keep her off of different social media platforms.
Cancel culture can also be used against well-known celebrities like R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein. Through social media and the New York Times, women came forward with multiple sexual assault allegations against these men. More and more people started to learn about the actions of these men, and they were outraged. Despite these men being well-known celebrities, people demanded them to be canceled. Weinstein and Kelly are now serving very long prison sentences, and more and more women have called out their abusers through social media. Many factors were involved in the final arrests of these men, and the use of social media to call them out was one of them. Furthermore, this was the start of a movement titled #MeToo in which social media users felt comfortable calling out their abuser because they knew that social media would cancel them.
When used the right way and against people who have done awful things, cancel culture can be a great thing for social media; however, every great thing also has a dark side, and there are many reasons why cancel culture should not exist. Often, cancel culture does not “work,” meaning that the person that social media is attempting to balance still has a great life and is on social media. One example of this is makeup Youtuber James Charles. Charles quickly became famous in the Youtube and Instagram communities for being very skilled at makeup. Still, in 2017 he was canceled due to his posting of racist tweets regarding the Ebola virus and Africa. Despite this, Charles still had a contract with a famous makeup brand, CoverGirl, and he was still getting many views on his Youtube channel. People liked him so much that he could not be canceled.
Following this, there were many other moments when the internet tried to cancel Charles, some of which are not so serious and others that warrant at least an investigation. These last few years, Charles has been able to come out on top every time, making him pretty much immune to being canceled. This ability to not be canceled has happened to many other celebrities, like Chris Brown and Mark Wahlberg, and it shows that cancel culture is not exactly foolproof.
There is another con about cancel culture in that sometimes social media influencers are compensated for no good reason. Recently, famous TikToker Mikayla Nogueira took to TikTok to show how great her eyelashes looked after using the new L'Oréal mascara; many social media users pointed out that Nogueira put on false eyelashes and insisted that the mascara did this. This was a lie by Nogueira and the internet was so ruthless to her that she eventually had to take a break from social media. This use of canceling was extreme, especially because another Youtuber named Jeffree Star insisted that he would come back and do genuine reviews about products. The irony is that Jeffree Star was also canceled, but for much more serious things, like being racist and having sexual assault allegations. By balancing one person for something small, the internet allowed a worse person to take their place.
All in all, cancel culture is something that can significantly benefit special media if used in the right way. Social media users cannot pick and choose who they want to cancel, and users must have an understanding of why they are withdrawing someone. The idea of mob mentality in cancel culture is a dangerous thing, and it can make cancel culture appear to be not necessary. It is essential, however, because social media users can now know which famous influencers to watch out for and not follow. There is no way to “cancel” cancel-culture, but by understanding the possible repercussions of it, social media users can make social media a safer and healthier place for everyone.
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