Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard the term “cancel culture’ being mentioned a lot lately. But what does this really mean? The time has come to dive deep into the concept of cancel culture so as to completely understand it.
When something is canceled, it is ended, nullified and eradicated. You can think of it in terms of a tv show. When a TV show is no longer wanted by the public and has no more support, it is cancelled. To cancel a person, similar to a TV show, is to decide that they are not wanted and as a result, to withdraw support from them and turn against them so as to end, nullify or eradicate them in the public. In the era of social media, this often takes the form of publicly calling out whatever you disapprove of about them, boycotting their work, organizing group efforts to take away their power and remove their public platform. And this is usually done in a performative way so as to gain attention and significance by going against them.
I’m going to ask you a question: When someone says or does something that you don’t like, what do you do? Do you simply stop focusing on them and go focus on something else? Do you actively engage in a constructive debate about whatever it is that they said or did so as to try to find a meeting of minds? Do you turn against them as a person so as to try to get rid of them?
Cancel culture is a shared social attitude and custom of trying to get rid of the source of something you dislike (the person saying or doing something) rather than trying to resolve or enter into conflict with the words or actions themselves. A good example of this is: Let’s imagine that a famous actress said she does not believe in vaccines. Instead of entering into a constructive debate about vaccines, people simply decide because of her opinion that they dislike, to organize to make it so that she, herself is eradicated from the public eye. They attack her character. They go to the media outlets to call her our publicly. They report her social media platforms so they are deleted. They create such a bad reputation and stir up so much controversy that no one can hire her without bringing the same antagonism upon themselves. So soon, she is blacklisted and unable to work and has been successfully eradicated from the public eye.
One of the main things fueling cancel culture is our attachment to a sense of goodness. People can commit all manner of sins when they are convinced that they are doing it for the “greater good”. The reason that the pattern of cancel culture does not stop is because we fall into the trap of seeing the person doing the cancelling as a ‘good guy’. In fact, this is how a person who is engaged in cancelling sees themselves. They fall into virtue signaling and performative wokeness. How this begins is that the minute that someone says or does something that they dislike, they immediately fall into the social triangle. The social triangle is essentially a triangle of the roles: hero, victim and villain. They see the person who is saying or doing something they dislike as the villain and this means, they are free to choose from the two “good guy” roles of the victim or the hero. They often see themselves as the victim first. But soon, gain power by transitioning into the role of the hero by ‘going against evil or wrongness or badness’. They can do whatever it takes to destroy that person because they are doing it in the name of the greater good and imagine themselves to be ‘saving others’ by doing so. It isn’t much different than a Christian soldier. He has grown up with the understanding ‘thou shalt not kill’. But the minute he decides that something is a threat to his country, suddenly killing is not only ok, it makes him a hero. The triangle is one of the most dangerous social dynamics in existence.
As long as people who engage in cancelling see themselves as the hero and as long as we continue to play into that idea as a society, we will remain an unconscious species. Cancel culture opens the door wide for people to publicly express opinions or sentiments that are intended to do one thing: To demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue. And when a person does this, as well as demonstrates political correctness, they can see themselves and be seen as awake and aware and therefore smarter than others. It is a performance of goodness, rightness and virtue. This means, it is in fact a narcissistic strategy as well as a disguised way of fueling the ego… Not activism. The people engaged in cancel culture see themselves as the moral ones, but are in fact the very ones making a meeting of minds or actual healing impossible. Instead they are waging war and destroying lives. For this reason, they cannot call themselves conscious or moral. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Self Concept, The Enemy of Awakening.
The issue of cancel culture has been there for quite a while. But the reason it is cropping up with such intensity right now is multi fold.
First, this is the era of the millennial. Millennials are dictating societal trends more than ever. And the millennial mindset gives rise to cancel culture. To generalize, the millennial generation is a wounded generation. It is a generation of really, really angry people. And they have reason. They have been duped and set up for failure by those who had more power than they did. They feel that everything and everyone is against their best interests, which makes them prone to seeing others as enemies. And they feel really, really powerless. This naturally primes them to go after the source of whatever they dislike as well as to go after power in backdoor and unconscious ways. It also primes them to naturally hate hierarchy and want to take power away from others. The minute they feel displeased or hurt, they feel powerless to whatever displeased or hurt them and so, they want to restore their sense of power and social media has given them the power to do just that. Of course millennials tend to simply remain unaware of all of this and instead justify cancel culture by saying that it is “to hold people accountable for what they say and do”. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: What’s Wrong with Millennials? And How to Heal the Millennial Wound.
Second, we are living in the era of social media. Social media has changed the world we live in. It has given people a control over canceling what they like and dislike that they never had before. It takes nothing to ‘cancel’ someone. Today, if someone doesn’t like something that someone said or did, they simply rally a group of people against that person from the comfort of their own homes and get them to do things like spread slander or collectively report the person so as to eradicate their support and to have their platforms removed. It is to consciously poison people against someone, so they turn on that person. You can think of it as mass triangulation. To understand more about triangulation, watch my video titled: Are You Being Triangulated?
Social media has now become the new battlefield and you don’t need bravery or expertise or an army or anything else to wage war. You just need a computer. In fact, you will probably only gain by waging war because you can get rid of whoever said or did something you didn’t like as well as see yourself and get others to see you as the public hero. You can also gain significance by being the one to go against something that is significant.
Third, humanity is in an incredibly unsafe time. A great many people feel powerless. We are polarizing intensely and prone to seeing those with alternative viewpoints as enemies. With the issue of a pandemic and also the issue of racial injustice on the table, personal sensitivities and triggers are at an all-time high and the collective is demanding political correctness. Because of this, many people who are in the public eye have recently been “cancelled” in what feels like a public witch hunt. The problem is, the deeper and deeper our culture commits to political correctness, the worse this pattern will become. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Political Correctness.
Cancel culture isn’t something that just effects celebrities, influencers and other people in the public eye. It effects everyone. You don’t have to be famous to be boycotted. And one could say that a goal of cancel culture isn’t limited to punishing someone, it is also a strategy to shame and scare just enough people about potentially suffering the same consequences to make them conform. Let’s say that you share an unpopular opinion or if someone is able to find something from your past that people would consider bad or wrong. They can un-friend you, spread it all over the place on social media, use it as a way to discredit, reject and triangulate against you entirely. That picture of you partying in your college years can even cost you your job.
Because the justification that is used for cancel culture is forcing accountability (especially by those who hate the term itself), we can’t talk about cancel culture without talking about accountability. Canceling someone for a thing they say or do is often seen as social justice. Straight out of the gate, it is critical to see that cancel culture is not really about justice. It is about control. Control is really the forced prevention of what is unwanted and the forced bringing about of what is wanted. People use cancellation to force conformity to ideals. This can be clearly seen currently in the atmosphere of the #metoo movement. If enough people are cancelled for saying or doing things that are perceived anti-feminist, then soon everyone will be forced through fear of consequence to conform and not say or do anything that goes against feminist ideals. Herein lies the first major issue with cancel culture. If people simply conform for fear of consequences, nothing has happened to make an actual change. For example, if people are cancelled on account of perceived sexism, nothing happened to resolve their sexism or the sexism of those around them. Sexism was simply driven beneath the floor boards by public shaming and threat of punishment. It was hidden to fester. It actually makes sexism worse instead of better, just less visible and more covert.
From a universal perspective, cancel culture is an attempt to usurp universal laws. One of the laws in a mirror-based construct (which we live in) is cause and effect. This is what many people call karma. You get a reflection of yourself. This is an organic process. It is a natural, built in form of justice if you will. And it was a construct designed specifically to create learning and therefore awareness. But people want to control this process. They want to take control over the reflection. They do it with punishment and reward. Humanity uses the basic human needs and the deprivation of them as a way to control another person. You have to get this: Punishment and reward is training a person. Punishment and reward is a control technique. And one of the biggest problems with it, other than it doesn’t work, is that it prevents learning. People learn from a natural consequence. For example, if I lean too far over on my bike, a natural consequence is falling. The punishment that human beings impose, is an unnatural consequence. For example, if a child stays out past curfew, we may take his television privileges away. But being unable to watch TV has nothing to do with staying out late at night. So the child learned nothing about the dangers of being out at night or the many consequences that could be a natural result of doing so… things like being too exhausted to pay attention in school the next day or running into situations or people that are dangerous. All this child has learned is that his parents are dictators and that he either has to conform or hide his absence from the house better. If a consequence is not causally related to an action, people learn nothing.
People who participate in cancel culture practices perceive themselves to be powerless and find this control tactic to be a way to take their power back. For example, a woman who feels totally powerless to men and who has weak boundaries or fear of asserting them may feel like her boundaries are not being honored by a man. So, in order to get her power back, she will call him out publicly, triangulate lots of other people against him, call for him to be boycotted and fired from his position. The amount of public pressure that she is able to amount may just result in him being fired. She will tell herself that she is saving other women by doing this and that he is getting what he deserves and is being held accountable for his actions.
As you can see from this example, another big problem relative to the accountability argument is the subjective perception of fairness. For example, the natural consequence of touching a woman in a way that is unwanted would be something like he, himself being touched in a way that is unwanted or he, himself being physically afraid of someone else or being rejected by her and thus, not being able to be physically near that woman. People have a skewed sense of fairness because of the magnitude of their personal triggers. They take their skewed ideas of fairness and justice and create an unnatural, causally unrelated consequence for others. In our example, a man losing his entire reputation, career and potentially life is not actually a causal, natural or one could argue even a fair consequence. Society also doesn’t progress because there is no learning. The man just learns that women are bitches. The woman does not learn how to assert boundaries. The company that fires him learns to bend to public pressure. Society simply creates another rule and consequences for breaking it. And society becomes less and less free and thus less and less conducive to human wellbeing.
I must put some questions before you. What is fair? What is Justice? And how can you know you are right? Who decides what the right consequence is? Are you aware that still to this day in some areas of the globe, people think that the right punishment is public stoning? Years ago, the right punishment was beheading or hanging. What might we think of our concept of punishment today when we are looking back from the future? Are you aware that punishment and reward has nothing to do with cause and effect, it has to do with the limited human perception of right and wrong and strategies to control other people into conforming to ‘rightness’?
We are being called to decide collectively: what does humanity actually want? And why? And how do we best achieve that? No one engaging in cancel culture behavior is actually thinking about this. And in fact cancel culture would not exist if we made our minds up about what we actually want for society and why and how to consciously achieve it. For example, we don’t want a racist society. Let’s say that someone makes a racist remark. Cancel culture is wanting to make it illegal and such a punishable offense that no one ever does it again. But this does nothing to heal racism. It simply drives it beneath the floor boards, where it festers.
I’m not going to tell you today what the definition of justice should be. I’m going to let you really question that yourself. But I am going to tell you that if what we want is a society that is conducive to human health and wellbeing, we are going to have to care infinitely more about healing than we care about control. We are going to have to let go of this juvenile eye for an eye mentality. Besides, at the deepest level what we are really trying to do when we want someone to suffer for making us suffer, is to force empathy and therefore force someone who is out of alignment with us to align with us instead.
To heal is to experience the opposite. This means that people who hold a painful perspective would need actual healing experiences that actually alter the perspective that they currently hold. For example, someone who steals because they feel they have no access to resources would have to experience resources and abundance, not sit in a jail cell. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Is Healing?
From objective perspective, humanity is an out of alignment species because they cause the very thing they punish. For example, the judicial system creates the very rules that ultimately force people into illegal activity. Then that same judicial system punishes them for that illegal activity. Police officers are part of the karma of drug abuse. Parents and schools are part of the karma of their children becoming delinquent.
Humanity is getting more and more out of alignment with its own best interests right now with cancel culture. It is forcing polarization, war, dishonesty, lack of authenticity, suppression, denial, fragmentation, punishment, control, conformity, lack of freedom, ignorance, and unconsciousness, all under the guise of ‘doing what’s right’.
Are you ready for the silver lining? Cancel culture has the potential to raise awareness of the entire topic of justice into human awareness for re-evaluation. This starts with a question that I want you to ask yourself: What is your definition of justice? No one agrees on this. And instead of thinking about it, most people simply swallow an idea of justice fed to them by the society they live in. What does humanity want out of justice? What do you want out of justice? What do you want done with the person who has hurt you or someone else and WHY?