Cancel Culture Taught Me How to Choose My Battles Online
Stepping away from the mob helps more often than not
We’ve seen cancel culture at work in different instances. For example when hashtags “#___IsOverParty” take over the top trends or the onslaught of threads informing us why we should be boycotting a certain brand. This, I wholly understand. We need to identify those who are on our sides and expose those who pretend they are.
But cancel culture isn’t limited to keep celebrities and politicians in check anymore. The public trial-like quest for justice also targets the normal, imperfect person with a public account. Whether it was over a rookie mistake blown out of proportion or instances taken out of context, the online mob is willing to talk about it and bring its own sense of justice to the table.
The years of watching shit go down on my timeline made me think twice about what I post. I realized that you don’t always have to jump the gun and fight with everyone who has opposing ideals and principles. Let me list you the lessons cancel culture taught me about choosing my battles.
Engaging is not worth it
More often than not, users on the internet have already beat you at policing the regular user who committed a mistake online. By the time the Tweet makes it to your side of social media, it’s garnered the attention of so many different users. Its replies are a combination of gentle advice and hostile threats. Before you type and say your piece, you should ask yourself: Would my message contribute to the cause or add insult to injury? If it’s the former, go ahead. But if you feel like you’re fueling the fire, then maybe you should sit this one out.
We might be participating for our own self-satisfaction
As someone who’s known to be strong and opinionated, I’ve bitten the bullet and engaged in cancel culture multiple times. But admittedly, it ended up turning into a hunt for validation instead of a genuine mission to inform someone. I did it more for likes and retweets from strangers online instead of coming from a place of actual concern. If you’re participating in the mob to flex how good you are in articulating your thoughts and how morally aligned your principles are, it’s high time to reassess why you’re doing it in the first place.
Aggression isn’t always the answer
People in the internet mob fight fire with fire to shake its subjects to their core, sometimes through a masterfully crafted clapback or the morally right Tweet riddled with expletives. But it’s often lost to us that behind these accounts are actual people. People with feelings. Should we really be hostile in seeking accountability for issues easily settled in private? We don’t know their limits. If we keep responding with aggression, we might decrease our chances of getting any point across. Worse, cause them pain and scars in the long run.
Believe me when I say that sometimes, all we need to do is to sit down and have a peaceful discussion (or two) so you can actually hear both sides. It’s not always about changing people’s minds. There’s no need for paragraph-long replies with jargons or ill-meaning clapbacks, especially for issues or concerns easily addressed via DMs. It’d be better to leave a lasting, positive impact on a person instead of being associated with a bad moment in their life.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver