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What is Cancel Culture or Online Shaming?

The term Cancel Culture or online shaming has been loosely used in the mainstream media. What does that mean exactly? That is the question I asked myself and found that it was actually quite complex to answer.

Before going into the impacts of social or online shaming, we need to define what online shaming is. Wikipedia defines Online Shaming as “a form of public shaming in which targets are publicly humiliated on the internet, via social media platforms (e.g. Twitter or Facebook), or more localized media (e.g. email groups). As online shaming frequently involves exposing private information on the Internet, the ethics of public humiliation has been a source of debate over internet privacy and media ethics. Online shaming takes many forms, including call-outs, cancellation (cancel culture), doxing, negative reviews, and revenge porn”. In other words, social or online shaming is the modern form of bullying. It has been going on ever since the social media craze started around 2006 when Facebook and Twitter became available worldwide and in turn, became popular. (Small Business Online shaming has become more visible in recent years since it has targeted famous people.

Some people took this online shaming to a new level asking to eradicate or cancel those individuals who are at fault. Cancel culture or call-out culture is defined by Wikipedia as “a form of boycott in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – either online on social media, in the real world, or both. They are said to be "cancelled".

It is one thing to call-out bad behaviour, but when social media call for the cancellation of people all together with only allegations and no proof, there is something wrong with that. I understand that some people feel they will find justice only by public shaming other individuals. However, we live in a democratic society, where we are innocent until proven guilty. It has been demonstrated on numerous occasions that this type of behaviour has destroyed careers and lives on allegations without any proof. How can we determine when allegations are true or when it is done out of vengeance like by an ex-spouse or lover? Some point out behaviour that is decades old. We all did and said stupid stuff when we were younger. We did not mean it, hell we did not even know what we were doing. I am sure if you look at those who are shaming, they would not be better than anyone else.

Do not get me wrong. This type of behaviour was critical to the Me-Too movement that brought many sexual predators to the forefront. Which is a good thing. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the same tactic can not be used for all forms of injustices.

Is this form of justice effective? There are many people that have mixed feelings on that. Some people will say it exists only in the Social Media bubble. You can see celebrities bounce back with the support of their fans like in the case Sarah Silverman and Kevin Hart. Both ended up loosing opportunities for their behaviour but were able to bounce back because of their fan base. However, others, that were not as famous, were destroyed by losing their careers and family over allegations that ended up being untrue, and never recovered. The mob-mentality culture can be toxic and as Sarah Silverman pointed out: “these mass social media campaigns against a person can actually hinder them from growing and learning from their mistakes. Instead of “cancelling” them, we should be educating them.” I totally agree with that statement. Not everything is an injustice. Somethings are simple mistakes that we have made. We normally should learn from them and move on, but our society appears to be looking for perfection and anything other than that needs to be cancelled.

In conclusion, I found this video from John Oliver explaining Public Shaming. I find John Oliver brilliant exposing to the public eye some important issues in a way that is informative yet entertaining. This is a great summary of what I was trying to say in this article.

Thank you for stopping by and until next time. Keep on smiling !!!!


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