How Cancel Culture Controls You


Stephania Lopez

The cancel culture trend has stymied the career of many celebrities, is it here to stay?

Senior Valeria Durand discusses the trend of cancel culture and the pitfalls of social judgement. (Elisa Ramirez)

Most people have some desire within themselves to be good people—conforming to morality is innate. This is what drives cancel culture—the new social norm of defaming a person after one mistake.

Canceling someone means to take away their power and fame in society as a means of “holding them accountable” for their actions, which are seen as immoral. This results in the person being cancelled leaving social media ostracized. As a result, society becomes more and more fearful and prudent about what they say so as to prevent their own cancelling. It’s dystopian.

Cancel culture controls the individual by instilling fear through public shame, not allowing the accused to grow from their errors, and preventing society to heal from the problems that people cancel others over in the first place.

The issue with cancel culture lies in its consequences. It is founded on a place of morality, the one thing that can redeem a person despite their other deficits. When you take everything away from someone, if they still live a moral life, they can be forgiven and redeemed in the eyes of others. Then, society can deem a person worthless, mercilessly. Cancel culture begins with a presumption of guilt towards the accused. People are desperate to witch-hunt anyone who threatens the norms of society—which is human nature, and not something to criticize—but cancel culture does not allow for the virtue of presuming innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The issues being held in contempt are nearly always abstracted and taken out of proportion, and as a result, the accused goes from being criticized on reasons of their actions to criticized of their very being. Their very essence is weaponized against them. Criticism that strikes fear in the hearts of the witnesses, not justice.

The pseudo morality of cancel culture is also a significant issue. The accused is not allowed to return to the good graces of society, but is instead shoved under the floorboards, to be forgotten. What then, of their insult to society’s idea of goodness? It only festers. If a man is cancelled on the basis of being sexist, then it is unlikely he will stop being sexist. Instead, his hatred towards women may grow. This is only logical.

As a result, the issues people are socially persecuted over do not end. They simply fester where they cannot be seen. Society does not grow from canceling people deemed problematic. It would grow for allowing its own people to do so. On instances of repeated harm and deliberate malice, deplatforming could be seen as morally just, but on first offenses that may not even be dated to the present, cancelling is nothing but a perversion of justice. It is thinly veiled as “the right thing to do.” It freezes people into hypermorality.

One of the arguments as to why cancel culture is morally acceptable is the idea that it holds the accused accountable for their own actions. This is simply untrue. Accountability is followed by growth, but as previously discussed, cancel culture allows for the opposite. To hold someone accountable comes with the mercy of seeing them grow.

Those who engage in cancel culture often root for the demise of the accused. How, then, could one claim that it is anything but sadistic? Accountability brings forth mercy. Cancel culture brings forth social damnation.

The reasons one may want to deplatform someone on social media are seemingly fair. The prejudices in the world should be called out when seen. That said, it is unfair to ostracize someone after one error. It only allows the very issue that was brought to light to grow in the darkness. Cancel culture could not be called moral, could not be called a solution, and could not be called just. It is only a means for control.