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Cancel Culture Needs to be Cancelled

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Twitter and other social platforms labeling celebrities and social stars as ‘cancelled’. For any little mistake they make, the whole world labels them as finished, career over, no way of return.

It seems that we are all very quick to judge others and think nothing of hopping on to a social media platform to voice our opinions on others’ wrongdoings when our own lives are not perfect. But luckily for us, our lives aren’t plastered all over page 3 or the Daily Mail website.

I was a bit knocked for six at the weekend, following the news of Caroline Flack’s death. I don’t know what it is about celebrity deaths that seem to affect a lot of us more than it used to.

It could be that we live through these people by following them on Instagram, following their friends and relations and almost in some way, feeling like you know them.

Caroline Flack’s untimely passing

Caroline Flack was a person like this. I followed her on Instagram, I followed her celebrity friends and watched her live her best 40-year-old life in London from dancing in nightclubs, her holidays, laughing with her friends, her photos of her very strange cat Waffle and more recently her cute dog Ruby.

Being an avid reader of Cosmopolitan, I remember her many cover shoots and stories as Farrah Storr (ex Editor-in-Chief) was a huge fan of Caroline. In particular, I remember the ‘Love’ edition where Caroline wrote short letters to her previous love interests.

The one thing I mostly associated Caroline Flack with, was her love-life. It was forever in the media, she was always in new relationships and it always seemed that she rushed in to all of her relationships with a full heart, but it never seemed to work out in the end.

In that particular Cosmo cover, she had just got engaged to The Apprentice’s Andrew Brady. I thought then that she had finally found the person she would spend the rest of her life with, but it was not to be.

Do we have too much freedom of speech?

It’s no doubt that social media plays a huge part in cancel culture. But should it be allowed that anyone can sit behind a computer screen or phone keypad and send death threats and vile comments to anyone out there with an anonymous account?

Shouldn’t we all be held accountable for what we say with our picture and name there to be seen? Caroline Flack’s death isn’t the first to come as a result of public and social scrutiny, and most likely won’t be the last. But what can we do to prevent it from happening again and again?

As a generation we seem to be a very judgmental bunch. We are very quick to take to Twitter while watching a show like Love Island just to comment on someone who has an eyelash out of place or a dress that’s too tight or extensions that don’t match their real hair colour. I see so much more of these types of comments than nice ones about the contestants’ outfits, personalities, features etc. We all just fish for likes by thinking that others will agree with our snide and mean comments.

Platforms like Twitter and Instagram really need to start monitoring their users and what their users are putting on to the platform. There are accounts made for the sole purpose of abusing other people because they wouldn’t dream of saying these comments from their real profiles. If you wouldn’t say it with your name signed to it, then you shouldn’t say it at all.

Is it social media’s fault?

We can blame social media for a lot of it, but sometimes it might be good to just walk away from the screen. There was life before social media and there is life after it. Step away from the screen, log off for a while and just take yourself out of the black hole that social media sometimes drags you into.

We can put the blame on the Jack Dorsey’s and the Mark Zuckerberg’s but it’s also the fault of the users on these platforms. It’s us that add fuel to the fire.

A lot of people will be quick to preach kindness and positivity but those same people will probably send nasty tweets to the likes of Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins and other controversial people that they don’t agree with.

Even though people like the ones mentioned above don’t always send the nicest tweets and say things that you would never agree with, but by responding with nasty comments calling them out on it – aren’t you just as bad as them? Joining in with the nastiness that these people create? Instead of biting, just ignore it.

Who are we to play God?

When did we get the right to determine whether someone is ‘cancelled’ or not? How do we decide that someone’s career is over? Who gave all of us the high and mighty power to end someone’s status as a celebrity?

Every mistake that any of us make online is scrutinized to its core, but especially for anyone in the public eye. The world of social media and internet in general makes our mistakes live on forever.

Even for everyday people like you and me, if we apply for a job ten years after tweeting or posting something we shouldn’t, more than likely, our employer will search our name and those mistakes will come right to the top of the search. Is there no forgiveness anymore? No more second chances?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Caroline Flack (and many others that are ‘cancelled’) didn’t do anything wrong because, she did. We’ve seen the pictures and heard the accounts, but we don’t know the circumstances. We don’t know the real story and nor should we feel that we are owed the right to know. That’s someone’s personal life, and that’s how it should have stayed — personal.

Are the papers at fault?

More-so than Tom, Dick and Harry on a Twitter rant, the papers have a lot to answer for when it comes to harassment, bullying and tearing apart someone’s mental health.

All of the nasty articles we see that come from The Daily Mail and The S*n to name a few, surely have to look at themselves and see that their click-bait articles are ruining lives. I don’t know if those journalists just don’t have a conscience, no morals or just don’t care about the consequences of what they write about, but I do wonder how they sleep at night.

I was always told that if you had nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. How I would hate for my job to be to criticize people in the public eye for any little thing. I couldn’t bring myself to be one of those people that write for the magazines that comment on celebrities’ weight, their appearance at 7am in the morning or what they look like getting into a cab at the end of the night.

Who are they to judge? It’s just lucky for them they don’t have paparazzi following them every second of the day because it’s not humanely possible to look and be perfect 24/7.

It wasn’t long before the two news platforms were removing previous articles from their sites that had ridiculed Caroline Flack for months before this weekend. But it’s the internet. You can’t delete what you’ve already put out there.

Cancel those who cancel

The only people that should be ‘cancelled’ are the media that publish horrendous articles, people that take to social media to bully and anyone that sends mean or threatening messages to anyone on a social platform no matter if they are famous or not.

I would guess the majority of us that are on social media have received at least one nasty message at some point in our lives (if not more). I know I have. And I remember how that made me feel. Instead of sending a nasty comment, just don’t say anything at all. It’s as easy as that.

When we see people like Piers Morgan spouting about things he shouldn’t, instead of reacting and angrily tweeting him back, just mute him. Get rid of that toxicity from your timeline. You can’t react to what you can’t see. Plus, it would be better if no one interacted with him or the likes of Katie Hopkins at all because they wouldn’t get as much of a thrill from it anymore.

Don’t take part in cancel culture. Don’t take part in bullying online. Spread positivity, be kind and use social media for the good. Look out for your friends, your family and anyone that you think may be struggling or that even may not show any signs of it.

We’ve learnt this weekend that the biggest smiles can hide a lot. We’ve also seen the damage that the press and social media can cause. Use social media for the good. Don’t participate in the bad. Let’s stop this cancel culture for good.

2 Comments

  1. February 19, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    In the spirit of positivity encouraged here, let me say this. I already knew you were wonderful. Now I know you’re wise too!

    • Orlagh Shanks
      Author
      February 21, 2020 / 12:02 pm

      Thank you Richard!

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