It’s time canceling joined the #IsOverParty

Yelling and screaming can be heard from a large crowd of townspeople as they circle in on a well-known knight. He’s surrounded by people holding flaming torches and sharp pitchforks as they pose threats of “ending him.” What appears to be an average scene from a movie taking place in medieval times sounds a lot like the mob mentality of cancel culture.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines cancel culture as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” Canceling a person means to ‘call them out’ for their actions and withdraw support.

The term cancel culture originated from the black users of Twitter who used it as a hashtag during call-outs, according to Merriam Webster. The term became popularized and more common in 2017 with the #MeToo movement.

I’m not justifying any actions of celebrities that are deemed “cancel worthy” but I do think there is a better approach to canceling. Instead of aiming to cancel people, we should hold them accountable and shift from calling people out to calling people in.

The problem with canceling

What starts with a single tweet can turn into thousands within an hour demanding that a celebrity is canceled. When people put their attention towards hurting the person who did something socially unacceptable, they take the focus away from social injustice.

Let’s use these instances as a way to talk about how a racist tweet impacts people of color. Use the mistake of one person to bring to light the injustice others face. A civil call-out gives those who are hurt by the canceled action or statement an opportunity to share their voice and educate others on their experiences.

Let’s also move the focus of a call-out away from shaming the individual. Lea Lis M.D, a certified adult and child psychologist goes by the nickname ‘The Shameless Psychiatrist.” She argues that shaming everyday people is not the answer.

“Shaming people who have not learned life lessons is not the way to move culture forward,” said Lis. “This type of cancel culture by social media bullying can do serious damage. For culture to change, the key is kindness.”

I remember in elementary school the teachers taught us to stand up to bullies in a mature way rather than reacting to the bully with mean behavior. I think this lesson in a sense can be applied to cancel culture. Instead of responding to someone’s hurtful and offensive words by shaming them, take the high road and hold them accountable in a cordial way. After all, isn’t a civil clap-back to someone’s hurtful words more fulfilling?

Furthermore, when a celebrity is canceled, it appears the backlash is not permanent, ultimately making it ineffective.

Country artist Morgan Wallen was canceled at the start of February after a video of him using a racial slur was released. Wallen’s label, Big Loud Records, has indefinitely suspended his contract. Yet, Morgan Wallen’s most recent album ‘Dangerous’ was number one on the Billboard Top 200 Albums for eight weeks in a row.

In the case of Wallen, his career has been damaged, but his support has not. The day following the release of the video sales increased 327 percent, according to Rolling Stone.

Sia was canceled for her film ‘Music’ which focused on disability and individuals with autism. People called out Sia for “a lack of research” and for an inaccurate portrayal of individuals with autism. Furthermore, many people hoped Sia would cast an actor with autism for the lead role, but instead she cast Maddie Ziegler, someone who is neurotypical, for the role.

Yet, the film was still nominated for two Golden Globe awards. Sia’s popularity among fans may have taken a hit, but the soundtrack for her film peaked at 66 for the Billboard US top album sales in late February.

It’s time to start calling in

Publicly calling out an individual on social media can become heated fast. Instead, we should shift to calling in. A call-in is “when you talk with someone privately about their behavior and it is considered a less reactionary route to work through conflict,” according to Mel Mariposa, a relationship coach.

Mariposa argues that calling out can be one-sided and it often tends to be reactive and aimed towards shaming people.

Within our community, we should shift towards calling-in. By calling in we give people a chance to learn from their mistakes. When calling in you allow for discourse to happen.

Having a private, meaningful conversation aimed towards change may not happen with your favorite celebrity after they’ve made an offensive tweet. In this case, a call-out may be the best option for holding celebrities, brands and public figures accountable. Just remember to keep the call-out directed toward change and accountability, rather than shameful and polarized.

But, a civil call may not be the solution in every situation. Individuals who have repeatedly abused others, said racial slurs and made offensive comments need to be held accountable to a different degree. If a person has had the time to take accountability for their actions and change for the better and fails, they should be publicly held accountable.

So let’s move away from the mob mentality of cancel culture and calling-out. It’s time we start giving people the chance to acknowledge their mistakes, apologize, learn and grow. After all, isn’t that the true way to change?