Cancel Culture, is there a better way?


Cancel culture. You may have heard of it, faced it or even supported it.

It may be easy to talk about someone being cancelled but being the person that is boycotted or doxed, can be really painful. If you feel like you have been cancelled, you are not alone.


So who’s been cancelled?


Korean Celebrities
Photo image: Behind the scenes, it’s Ok to be not ok

Celebrities, by virtue of their public lives are the most easily cancelled ones. Most recently, there has been a slew of Kpop stars who have been cancelled because of unacceptable behavior.

Seo Ye-Jin of ‘It’s Okay Not to be Okay’ was accused of school and staff bullying amongst other things. As a result, she was replaced in the new drama ‘Island’ and lost endorsement opportunities for several products. Ahn Jae-hyun’s nasty divorce with Koo Hye-sun, the ‘Boys Over Flowers’ actress resulted in the former losing brand endorsements with Giordano and getting kicked out of ‘New Journey to the West’. Naeun from Kpop group April had to leave ‘Taxi Driver’ when she was accused of school bullying.


Western celebrities


Photo image: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah 

Chrissy Teigen, who was cancelled recently has talked honestly about what it’s like to be in the ‘cancel club’ despite risking bigger back-lash of being seen as whinny. She said that she felt lost and depressed. Teigen was accused of bullying and saying nasty things going back to 2014. This whole episode has helped Teigen to be more introspective about her behavior in her younger days. She writes that she realised that she said all those nasty words because she thought it was ‘cool’ and was eager to get on a ‘pop culture pile on’ without realising that her words were cruel. She has since apologised to all those whom she has bullied.

Cancel Culture is not a recent phenomena, Whoopi Goldberg made a Bush joke at a public fundraiser many years ago and couldn’t find a job for five years after getting cancelled.


Why do people engage in cancelling others?

Cancel culture is a form of social expression to show displeasure towards an individual based on perceived wrong doing. Psychologist have found cancelling to be a form of punishment that is inflicted on another person due to words, action or behavior that is considered socially unacceptable. Hence, in some ways, cancel culture reflect social norms, and values, though at times the ‘punishment’ seem a little too much for the degree of wrong doing. Cancelling is somewhat similar to ghosting, it’s just that ghosting is more private and passive.

Trevor Noah, the Daily Show shares why he thinks people jump into cancel culture in his video. He thinks that certain online platforms encourage the behavior just to get people to use the platform even more.


What can be done about Cancel Culture



Recently, Roses of Peace, a youth led interfaith initiative organised a public forum to discuss calling out a person for wrong doing. The panel included notable public figures and politicians such as Dr Maliki Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s office and Dr Vignehsa, research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, among others.


Here are some suggestions that were raised in the forum

Instead of cancelling a person, try doing this:

  1. Take a step back and help the offending person reflect on his mistake rather than jumping on the person and calling this person out.


  1. Understand the circumstances leading to the behavior. Avoid labelling the person based on just one action or incident.


  1. Focus on the issue on hand, call out the issue rather than the person. Discuss and debate the action or words that was considered wrong rather than debase the person.

People are complex and actions may not always reflect their motivations. People grow and change. To be a kinder, more gracious society we need to help people learn and be aware of their behavior rather than just cancelling them out.


What do you say?

What would you do if you feel that you have been cancelled? How can you help a friend who is cancelled? Read what our Giveaway winners  have to say about managing cancel culture.


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