If you’ve been monitoring your teen’s social media usage, you may have heard the term “cancel culture” once or twice and have no idea what it means. Does it allude to drug usage or other party behavior? Or does it refer to something else, like a larger social movement?
Luckily, we’ve got a definition of what is cancel culture to help you better understand what your teen may be doing on social media.
What Is Cancel Culture?
Cancel culture is not too far off from call-out culture (or outrage culture), which is a form of public shaming that tries to hold someone accountable for their actions by publically calling out their behavior as problematic. With the rise of social media, this kind of behavior has become even more prominent and widespread.
Cancel culture is used to describe a social media-based boycott for when someone is called out for doing something offensive. This can happen to anyone, from everyday users to more popular figures like actresses or influencers.
“Victims” of cancel culture are left “canceled” — with a significantly smaller following and a tarnished reputation.
The Troubles of Cancel Culture
While it’s great to hold people accountable for their actions and being able to recognize when an action is not right, cancel culture can do plenty of harm.
With it being a prominent aspect of social media, people can easily take things out of context or make something up in order to cancel someone. For example, anyone can forge a fake tweet or Instagram post from a celebrity figure and if it gains enough traction, it can cause a serious scandal.
Or, one small incident can cause a group of users to investigate someone’s past, digging until they find more things they find “problematic.” Dragging the person ensues, and they are left canceled.
There is no statute of limitations for calling someone out on their problematic behavior. Someone can be dragged for something they tweeted ten years ago as a 13-year-old, pre-fame. Past trends and humor — the context surrounding the behavior — is often lost in cancel culture. Things that could have been funny years ago can be problematic today.
Beauty influencer James Charles posted the above tweet while on his way to Africa. At the time, he was the first male model for the beauty brand Covergirl. After his remark was called out as being racist, people wanted him to be canceled and called for Covergirl to cut professional ties. While the company kept Charles on contract following the incident, he is no longer with Covergirl.
Examples of Cancel Culture
User 1: Did you see that influencer’s picture from a few years ago? Everyone is dragging her!
User 2: What, why? I used to love her!
User 1: She did blackface at a party in high school! The pics are everywhere now.
User 2: That’s disgusting! She’s canceled!
When someone is canceled, they usually go viral online for a few hours. Their name trends and people often try to trend related hashtags like #InsertNameIsOverParty. While you may not think of cancel culture as a big deal if your teen is not the one being canceled, it’s a good starting point to discuss how your teen treats others on the internet.