“I hope cancel culture keeps expanding and more and more people get canceled, because then eventually everyone will get canceled and it will mean nothing and we’ll just have a reset. Cancel culture is inevitably a self-canceling proposition,” Meghan Daum once told Katie Herzog.
And I agree with Daum more than I do naysayers about cancel culture or people who believe cancel culture can be used to instill social good. Although there is no official definition of cancel culture, it is often a cultural boycott and excommunication from the public sphere, after perceived wrongdoing. In liberal, PC, woke intelligentsia, a sphere I am a product of and that I actively participate in, cancel culture is often used after a #MeToo episode or a comment about race, gender, or sexuality that is backwards and deserves to be called-out.
I think cancel-culture comes with a lot of good intentions. While the criminal justice system and police system often move justice in a direction that’s counterintuitive or just don’t do enough, cancel culture is a way of taking justice into the hands of ourselves. It is a way to move the world into a utopian ideal we see fit.
But what we often fail to acknowledge is how good it makes us feel, almost as if canceling someone does more good for ourselves than it does for society. Comedian Sarah Silverman, two months ago, called cancel culture “righteousness porn,” and she’s right to do so. It’s addictive to cancel someone else for their wrongdoing. Silverman, however, made the comment amidst admitting some of her regrettable moments, particularly performing in blackface in a show about race. She reflected that she knew it was wrong, and she hoped she could one day be forgiven.
I believe that cancel culture is bad, but not for the reasons we might think:
It only calls out the behavior that is public, that is viral.