First of all, I would like to clarify what I am referring to when I speak of "Cancel Culture" -- just to avoid misunderstandings.
"Cancel Culture" can refer to a group of people boycotting a company and I think a boycott is fine. Vote with your dollars! I have no problem with that.
What I have a problem with is if one person or a group of people tries to cancel another person for something that this person has written on the internet -- most likely on social media. "Cancel" means in this case "try to get the person fired from his or her job".
I don't like that both scenarios are subsumed under the same designation. I think the first version is best referred to as a boycott.
With the disclaimer out of the way, let's begin!
I'm sure you can already tell that with a title like this, you are in for a ride! Let's begin with a real-life story from today:
This morning I published a text on the internet. I'm sure, you can relate to that.
And another person got a different impression of my intentions based on my text. You have probably also experienced that before.
Contrary to what your first impression of the statement above might be, I am writing this article not to complain about the mentioned comment or to attack the character of its author. And I'm definitely not trying to dox him and to get him fired from his day job -- for something he wrote on the internet. (Which basically is a stylized depiction of "Cancel Culture".)
Oh no, my intentions are quite the opposite:
Why? -- Thanks for asking: It helps me to see things -- like my own text in this specific example -- with different eyes. It helps me to overthink my own points of view. And I learn a lot from it.
That is basically rephrasing a statement of your counterpart in a public debate so that it can still be recognized, but no sane person could ever agree with it. -- Just like a strawman resembles a real human, but no sane person could ever mistake it for a real human.
This technique is especially easy to apply if the other person or group of people is absent and can not give a rebuttal to the strawmanned statements.
What I like to do is the exact opposite: I want my ideas to be challenged. By being challenged and by having to explain my beliefs to other people with different points of view, I force myself to overthink everything. And to make my beliefs, ideas, points of views and arguments harder, better, faster, stronger.
What is important, however, is that all participants in a conversation focus on arguments to the matter of discussion and remain respectful to each other.
I'm not writing these statements for the person who wrote the comment mentioned above. I'm sure, he knows that already. I can tell, because I have had conversations with that person before. I'm writing this for somebody who might think that "Cancel Culture" is the standard way of "communicating" on the internet.
By the way, I believe that I will be on the receiving end of the latter in this discussion. And I'm looking forward to it, to be honest. That's how I learn the most valuable lessons in life.
I think that respectful disagreement and constructive criticism is crucial in a democracy -- as usually almost half of the population does not get what they think they want. And all members of society still have to coexist and work together with all their disagreements and different opinions. (By the way, I would claim that riots, arson and looting are not part of democracy.)
I received a very well written and very well thought out comment by a person whom I hold in high regards.
I'm not just writing this to be nice. That's really what I think after reflecting on his comment and admitting to myself that I'm not perfect. (By the way, nobody is. And that's ok. But we should strive to constantly improve.)
So, I suggested to have a public debate with him -- or at least a short back and forth in which we respectfully exchange our points of view. I think, this would be fun for us and interesting for at least a couple of other people.
I can definitely see how my text gave an impression that I did not intend.
I thank the commentator for his comment.
And I thank you for reading this article.
And I would like to ask you, dear readers: What are your experiences with debates? What do you think about "Cancel Culture"? Feel free to tell me that I got it wrong and that you completely disagree with me -- if that is the case.
I'm looking forward to reading your comments!
Cover photo by marco allasio from Pexels