The Wild Honey Buzz: Cancellations or Consequences?
As 2021 comes to a close, I'd like to reflect on a phenomenon we witnessed this year: Cancel Culture. People complained of being "cancelled" when they experienced the consequences of their comments or actions. I was told I was "cancelling' someone recently when I responded to her inappropriate email by saying I no longer wished to interact with her.
I was talking with a friend about this and she suggested that instead of "cancel culture" we should call it "consequence culture." She asked me to write a blog about it although I don't think there is very much to say actually as the cause and effect relationship seems so common sense and obvious to me. It reminds me of Isaac Newton's quote, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Actions have consequences, and one of those is "cancellation" or deciding not to associate with or support someone based on their actions or words.
Now that we have cell phones with cameras and texting, there is more likelihood of our actions being documented and shared. We've seen so many examples of people being held accountable for their actions thanks to video recordings, and I suppose this is why
we began to hear the phrase "cancel culture." But to me, it's just good old fashioned consequences being delivered.
We've all had experiences in which we've said or done things that can't be retracted and for which we've had to pay the consequence, some bigger than others. Maybe you made a negative comment about a person's appearance or personality in front of their good friend or said something insensitive about a group that you aren't a part of? I said something to my brother once that I feel damaged our relationship. Unfortunately I did not offer him an adequate apology before he passed away, so now I face the consequence of deep regret and the difficult work to forgive myself. A good solid practice is to think before we act or speak and remind ourselves that the persons on the receiving end will have a choice in how they react. Step two is to ask ourselves if we are ready and willing to accept the consequences. Thinking things through like this is so much easier said than done, especially for those of us with spontaneous or fiery personalities who tend to blurt things out or push send in the heat of the moment.
This topic also brings up forgiveness and redemption for me. I believe that forgiveness is a process. We give ourselves a gift when we forgive someone who has offended or wronged us. However, forgiveness and trust are two very different things. I've forgiven several people whom I could never trust again. It seems that deciding when to afford someone a second chance is a personal decision dependent on the circumstances. It might depend on the sincerity of an apology. Some apologies are genuine and others are not. Saying to someone, "I'm sorry you were offended by what I said," is not an adequate apology.
I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I do want to intensify my practice of thinking before I speak and act in the coming months, and I want to be accountable for my actions.
How about you? I'm curious about your thoughts on "cancel culture." Do you think that
"consequence culture" might be a better term? Does "cancel culture" play into politically correct culture? Is there too much conformity, censorship and threat to freedom of speech in our society? And lastly, do you think technology increases or decreases our freedom in this regard?
Wishing you much success in all of your endeavors in 2022.