While there has been a rise over the last year or two in the prevalence of 'cancel culture,' a deeper conversation on what this means at its center somehow continues to be brushed over. In great distaste, public figures of all sorts have made comments and remarks that we as consumers have decided are rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and many other masks of negativity; and because of the commentary that has come to light, we have opt to cancel individuals who have been offensive. Yeah, just like that, their existence is imaginarily eradicated - along with their work/contribution - and placed among a list of members who have also been cancelled and decidedly no longer a part of the collective of individuals that can suffer harm from their toxicity.
Toxicity is absolutely what it is, and there is no way around disgusting language aimed to belittle groups of people, so that is not the direction we'll be taking in analyzing this issue. However, can we honestly look ourselves in the mirror and claim to never have been problematic, ignorant, or irresponsible? I doubt it. There is hardly ever an opportunity for learning that is not coupled with an opportunity to make a mistake, and following that is often where the learning begins.
The most salient issue here is that we don't extend the same learning curve across the board. Instead, because of the assumed platform that we have placed on those with the ability to influence the many, we raise our standards for these people and offer little-to-no room for growth. Now as aforementioned, this is not aimed to convince anyone of who does or does not deserve a second chance, instead it is aimed to address the subconscious train of thought that has developed from our own lack of compassion for ourselves.
From childhood to adulthood, we are socialized to believe that practice makes perfect, that the first impression is the only impression, and that a willingness to be self-sacrificial will provide us with the gumption it takes to win. These ideologies prove to be problematic as they lack any linkage to progression and growth. We internalize the need to be viewed as correct so intensely that we fail to realize the divinity in the shift that comes from a collection of lessons learned. We are slow to be self-compassionate and gentle with our own mistakes, which encourages this behavior to be carried throughout the multiple aspects of our lives. This perpetuates a consistent disservice to ourselves, our friends, our family, and our perception of society as a whole, leading us to where we are now, a one-and-done culture where there is no room to uncover better versions of who we are.
So what if we were to start with self? What if we offered ourselves kinder words to combat the negative repetitive thoughts that we allow to circulate when we screw up? What if we were quick to forgive our own ignorance because we recognize the need to gain more knowledge on a subject? What if we worked to share our ideas of humanity with one another so that we could better understand the perspectives of the people we live among?
By reflecting on these questions, we may be able to uncover the actual reasoning behind why we choose cancellation over compassion. We may also discover that concern is a fair middle ground between the two that offers us a chance to investigate, analyze, and evaluate the action(s) in question.
Moving forward, don't feel bad or misaligned when you choose to disagree with the latest update to the list of cultural cancellations, instead decide to take time with your concerns (if any) and move from your center.