I think we’re on the other side of the worst of the ‘cancel culture’ witch hunts.
And I think we need to ask ourselves just how things got as ridiculous as they did.
From around 2015 through earlier this year, random ‘Twitter outrage mobs’ could make or break a career based on whispers, accusations, and the appearance that there was a massive amount of angry customers waiting to descend upon your business if you didn’t meet their demands or throw your employees to the wolves.
They hate Twitter now. Because Musk bad.
In my opinion, when Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, two key things happened that turned the tide. First, a lot of the people who joined in on the cancel culture mobs loathe Elon Musk, and now Twitter can do no right. It’s seen as a once-sacred bastion of journalistic integrity compromised by “the alt-right.” Whatever that actually is.
And second, we learned just how many Twitter accounts were fake and how easily the algorithm could be gamed if you so desired.
So companies thinking that thousands of people were demanding the head of one of their employees were probably only dealing with maybe dozens of legit angry users and multiple sock puppet accounts.
Boomers let millennials run the show and didn’t ask enough questions.
Now, this is a theory on my part. But I think many companies had a massively distorted view of how angry “the internet” was based on information filtered through younger employees who typically manage social media.
To a young person who eats, sleeps, and breathes social media, being “disliked” is kryptonite. And if your job is to literally manage social media and a company’s online reputation, you’re going to try and identify people and things that are “problematic” to justify keeping yourself on payroll, right?
But the truth is that the vast majority of consumers aren’t as addicted to social media as a company’s social media manager, and in most cases, these tempests in a teapot would simply blow over.
But I do believe that social media managers and other PR people would vastly overinflate online Twitter drama and then run it up the chain of command. The boomer execs would listen, because hey, all these people are gonna boycott our products if we don’t toss Sally the TERF out on the streets, right? Our young social media manager knows what’s what because they just graduated with a degree in this stuff last Spring, so we’d better listen.
Except their actual consumers have no idea there’s any drama going on as they’re not perpetually on Twitter.
Cancel Culture hurt itself in its confusion.
Of course, the biggest blow to cancel culture has been in the many recent instances of it backfiring… massively. Because at the end of the day, money still talks.
J.K. Rowling was just supposed to whither up and disappear because Twitter was mad at her. The online outrage arguably lead to even bigger sales for Hogwarts Legacy, which itself is leading to a renewed interest in Harry Potter all across the board.
Johnny Depp proved in court that he wasn’t the wifebeater that Amber Heard claimed he was.
Dave Chappelle confronted his detractors head-on, and his comedy specials went on to be some of Netflix’s highest-viewed comedy specials ever.
Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland was fired from every one of his gigs based on charges of domestic abuse… which were ultimately dropped. I’m waiting for the lawsuits.
Gina Carano was dumped from The Mandalorian over some tweets, but the support from many of her fans and co-stars lead to her bouncing back fairly quickly.
And that’s not even mentioning multiple instances of “canceled” comic book creators, journalists, and video game developers rebounding in a similar fashion. For many, cancel culture had the opposite effect. It actually gave their careers a boost as it rallied people behind them.
Some left-wing celebrities like Sarah Silverman have come out against the left’s use of cancel culture, and more and more people from both sides of the political spectrum are fed up with it. There’s even a high-profile podcast series showing the parallels between modern-day cancel culture and literal witch hunts.
The adults weren’t paying attention. Or they just wanted to save their own necks.
Which takes me back to my original thought. Just how was this allowed to happen in the first place?
“Twitter is not a real place,” Dave Chappelle famously once said. And he’s right. It never was. But it was allowed to destroy lives and careers nonetheless.
Simply put, the “adults” weren’t paying attention. They weren’t paying attention because the people being canceled maybe weren’t big enough to come across their radar. Maybe they were aware of it but stayed out of it as it didn’t directly affect them.
The worst of it is that some “adults” were well aware of what was going on, but said nothing as they didn’t want to be the next target.
Whatever the case may be, this could’ve been stopped years ago. It should’ve been stopped years ago. And in the years to come, people will certainly “misremember” how it all went down.
It’s kind of funny how some people who were effectively blacklisted are suddenly “cleared” now that the tide is turning. While that’s fine and dandy going forward, I don’t think anyone who was on the receiving end of a “cancelation” attempt will forgive and forget anytime soon.
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