Cancel Culture Isn’t Real

We just don’t have a real example of accountability

Elyse Cizek


Photo of the Author by Aly Whitman

I’m really tired of hearing the word “cancelled.” I’m tired of it not only because all of my favorite events over the past year have been cancelled, or that the places I once loved and the people who I once looked up to have been called out for being problematic, but because the term “cancel culture” has arisen as a misnomer for what we’re actually watching unfold as our society decides to bring problematic behavior to the surface of our conversation.

I’ve written about cancelling quite a bit. Primarily because I’ve observed the term first thrown by well-intended social justice warriors, then the response from those who find cancelling to be a toxic practice of censorship and a supposed violation of first amendment rights to free speech. Because I’ve already written about the problematic nature of “cancelling,” I’m not going to go into deep detail about every individual instance or specific person or piece of art or practice that has been cancelled this year. Instead, I’m going to ask you what about the topic of cancelling seems to be such a hot button issue, and what I believe is missing entirely from the conversation.

To be human is to be flawed. To be human is to desire connection. We want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want our experiences to be valid and to have the right to our autonomous experiences of the world and with the people in it. As a society, we are influenced by others. All of them human, all of them flawed. As a capitalist society, we are driven to produce, to consume, and to gain wealth as a form of survival. With the rise of social media, we have discovered and exhausted this medium in order to have these needs met, and in doing so, the broader conversation of what our society is and has been is no longer dictated by a powerful few with the connections and the capital to influence millions at a time. Instead, the stories and perspectives of those who had previously been denied the public platform to find connection, to be able to influence, or to make money in the way social media allows us to, suddenly have a voice that cannot be ignored, and never should have been.

For those of us who remember what life was like before social media, we are now discovering just how closed-minded our society…