Just Let It Go🙄

Salina Petros, Staff Writer

Why is it that people find it okay to dig up someone’s past and hold them accountable for their wrongdoings? You might say “because what they did was wrong and they have to face the consequences.” But what if the material in question is really old? Does bringing issues up after years actually work towards bettering the person or does it simply ridicule them?

In our world today, prominently on social media, we are able to see the vast majority of an individual’s social media history. It can vary in offenses such as racist, sexist, or inappropriate tweets, liking or sharing of offensive posts, or simply ignorant words, that have been brought into the light so that all eyes can see. People’s past is almost like an open book. Now, the intent behind this can be reasonable; that we desire a change in those who interact with social media in this manner. That we must remind them of their past and reinforce the harmfulness of their error. However, I think social media has taken a completely different perspective on correcting individuals for their awful past. 

Nowadays the term “cancel culture” is often used to sum up the basis of this issue. Cancel culture is generally described as “withdrawing support from public figures for engaging in considerably offensive behavior.” On social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, we have seen the rise in this “cancel culture” uptake. It has been normalized to the point where if you don’t see someone getting canceled for discourteous behavior, then something is not right. 

Now to be completely honest, there are, in fact, some good things to this cancel culture issue. According to writer and founder of “On Our Moon,” Alexandria D’amour,“Cancel culture has been incredibly effective at combating sexism, racism, or any other type of abuse or harmful wrongdoing to others. It holds people accountable for their actions in ways that wasn’t possible in the past.” This implies that cancel culture is a preventative measure taken against past ignorance which yields positive outcomes. 

Let’s take Dan Schneider as an example. Dan Schneider is an American television producer who is famously known for the productions of many iconic Nickelodeon TV shows. In the midst of his TV production, many people overlooked his history of sexual implications he incorporated when producing his shows. Social media was a big contributor to revealing these horrible things Schneider was doing while making shows for children. In an article written by Allsion O’Reilly of University of Maryland College Park, she says, “Some Twitter users and media sites have pointed out a history of sexual innuendo involving child stars on his shows.” Without this information being enlightened by social media, Dan Schneider could have flourished in producing even more shows and continued incorporating his harmful tactics without being stopped. The fact that now everyone is aware of what he had done, respectfully, he has now broken his ties with his primary television platform and is now no longer able to get away with his inappropriate behavior any longer.

But now the question is does this work for everyone or has the concept of “cancelling” people gone too far? Though shedding light on past issues can certainly help individuals learn from their mistakes and avoid making the same mistakes in the future, what if that particular individual is seeking to do better? What if that person is trying to learn from their mistakes and grow? Someone could have said or posted all the nonsense in the world out of ignorance and offended many but shouldn’t we acknowledge the fact that they have admitted their mistakes, repented, and are moving forward in order to better themselves? That’s the problem with cancel culture; those who cancel others are trying to prevent something from happening again but it is executed in a manner that destroys someone’s self-esteem and, in some cases, has serious implications on their future. 

Another key factor is the goal of those who choose to cancel others. Emma Haag and Madeleine Young of Portola High School in Irvine, California write, “Due to its fear and shame factor, cancel culture poses a toxic way to hold public figures accountable for their actions which ultimately leads to fear rather than genuine change.” Cancel culture, and digging someone’s past to hold them accountable has been taken to a whole other level to where harm is becoming greater than helping a situation.

What happened in the past is done. I think as a society we need to move one and focus on the present events instead of dwelling in the past. Not to say that we ignore what people did, but don’t hold them against their wrongdoings for all of their lives. We need to give people a chance to grow and consider their ways because bashing them through “cancel culture” will only dismantle the situation even further. It will be awful to kill someone’s path to change with their faults continually being stressed to the world.