No one is born perfect.
Or all-knowing or socially adept.
But there is a sort of air especially around cancel culture, political correctness, and the online world that demands the perfection of strangers we’ve never met. It boils our opinions down to a single tweet, phrase, or instance as opposed to how that person really is. It creates an environment that is incredibly easy to judge someone, while we sit safe and snug at home.
But who are we to judge? I doubt any of us are “perfect”, or that we haven’t had our own lapse in judgment or uneducated moment. We all come from completely different backgrounds, products of our own environments, and as we grow and change as individuals, sometimes we learn that the way we once thought is actually hurtful.
Cancel culture can hold some merit in certain situations: racist, sexist, classist ways of thinking that benefit no one. Calling people out when what they’re doing is inherently harmful can be a good thing if done the right way– which is to teach and not victimize.
But we also have to practice what we preach.
And the quickness that cancel culture swoops in when someone missteps leave absolutely no room for error or education on the subject.
We jump on the bandwagon of “canceling” someone while not knowing anything else about them except for those 150 characters of text. But are the rest of us so perfect? Are the people doing the canceling any better if their goal is only to beat down the person on the receiving end?
Can we honestly sit back at the end of the day and say we have done no wrong in our lives? And if we have (which, let’s be honest, we have all made mistakes or said something insensitive or ignorant), how would we want that moment to be handled? Not all of us have been on the receiving end of being canceled, but I would be bold enough to assume we’ve all seen it happen to someone else.
Putting yourself in their shoes: how would that feel? For a tweet you might have thought was a joke because you heard your parents, siblings, friends say it before being picked up by the wrong group of people and your entire life be teetering on the edge because of it?
"Imagine, as a clinical psychologist, if instead of greeting people with empathy, nonjudgmental acceptance, and curiosity about the complexity that makes them human, I were to shame them, judge them as morally inferior and irredeemable from a perspective of self-righteousness, and sought to understand them based on one snippet of their life." [ X ]
The internet is still relatively new. But it’s been around long enough for almost everyone to have dirt on them if you dig back far enough.
We are also not our pasts. And we should be able to grow and leave those parts of ourselves behind because people can change and grow from their past mistakes. A lot of us are just lucky that our youthful ignorance wasn’t blasted on the internet for everyone to see.
Much of cancel culture can be casting stones at glass houses. The view that everyone’s online presence can be boiled down to “right” and “wrong” is also a very naive way of thinking. One tweet does not define a person, and neither does our past.
The important thing to take away from it is what we can do moving forward as humans to become better versions of ourselves. And that takes compassion, open-mindedness, and a willingness to admit mistakes. But not only is it admitting mistakes, but allowing mistakes to happen. Using mistakes as a teachable moment.
It is very narrow-minded and, dare I say conceited, to think that everyone has the same upbringing, morals, thoughts, and ideals as you do. Humans are a melting pot, and we need to be more empathetic of that moving forward.
Imagine the kind of groundbreaking conversations we could have if we approached everyone with earnest, open conversation. Imagine the growth and the feeling of connectedness we could achieve in society if there wasn’t so much fear around voicing our opinions.