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Living in the Age of Cancel Culture

May 14 / Todd Houston

The term cancel culture is used to describe a process of ostracism, a way of publicly calling out someone who has offended a specific group. The person is “canceled” or shunned due to controversial actions or statements. Those who are canceled often declare that they were unfairly treated or their words were taken out of context.

For me, I do think that sometimes, we are too quick to judge someone’s words or actions. There’s a rush to judgment in a society that craves an immediate reaction, especially in social media and other online platforms.

One mistake that I think happens is that we judge someone’s actions using today’s expectations rather than the culture or time period in which he or she lived. Recently, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln were victims of cancel culture.

These men were complex individuals who accomplished extraordinary things in their lifetimes. Were they perfect and without blemish? No, not at all; they were human.

Former US President Barack Obama warned against cancel culture, saying that “People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and you know, share certain things with you.”

So, where do we draw the line in cancel culture? That is, in a free society that prides itself on the freedom of speech, how can we preserve a diversity of opinion and thought without ‘canceling’ someone who has an opposing view?

Perhaps there are alternatives and improvements to cancel culture, such as those proposed by Professor Anita Bright. Dr. Bright supports “calling in” rather than “calling out” to bring forward the former’s idea of accountability but in a more “humane, humble, and bridge-building” way.

Similarly, clinical counselor Anna Richards, who specializes in conflict mediation, says that “learning to analyze our own motivations when offering criticism” helps call-out culture work productively.

Holding someone accountable for their words and actions is the primary goal of cancel culture, and I certainly want this process to be fairly applied. We can try to put ourselves in the other’s person’s shoes before making a judgment and, as Anna Richards states, analyze our own motivations.

Am I being fair? Why do I react to these statements or actions? Does the person make an intellectual point, or is he openly antagonistic?

There are other situations that require no reflection prior to ‘canceling’ the person. Those who stoke hatred through racism, homophobia, transphobia, religious bigotry, gender stereotypes, and ageism should not be tolerated.

Likewise, those who actively engage in sexual misconduct, if guilty, maybe canceled and even imprisoned. In civil discourse, no one should be purposely offensive or antagonistic. Too often, those who share these vile opinions and beliefs complain about their treatment. For them, I say, “you’ve been canceled!”

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way.

~Todd

References:

  • Bright, A. & Gambrell, J. (2017). “Calling In, Not Calling Out: A Critical Race Framework for Nurturing Cross-Cultural Alliances in Teacher Candidates.” Handbook of Research on Promoting Cross-Cultural Competence and Social Justice In Teacher Education


You’ve certainly experienced loneliness, right?. But did you know about its long-term effects?

Former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, claims that: 

"People who struggle with loneliness end up living shorting lives…are at an increased risk for heart disease, depression, dementia, anxiety, and a host of other conditions.”

Now that statement makes you stop and think, “I don’t want that.” Now to clarify, loneliness isn’t inherently wrong; each one of us needs time alone. It also is not entirely based on how big or small your social network encompasses. Instead, loneliness becomes an issue when it turns into something more chronic.

Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt- Lunstad, defines loneliness as

"…the discrepancy between our actual level of social connection and our desired level of connection.”

You see, what’s haunting about loneliness is that it shows no prejudice based on race, class, or gender. Anyone can feel lonely, even if it seems like they would be the last person to experience it.


The idea of loneliness can heavily impact not just a person’s physical health but mental health too. Support systems feel like they’re breaking down. All you feel is isolation. Self-preservation takes over.


The point of learning about the effects of loneliness shouldn’t make you dismayed. Instead, it should inform you to protect yourself against chronic loneliness better and assist others when they could feel lonely. Loneliness indicates that we should be connecting with others to live in a community.


Think about what community means or looks like to you:
  • What does community look like to me? In-person? Digital?
  • What are some communities that I could be a part of based on shared interests?


Try to identify what friends you connect with most:

  • Which friends do you connect with the most? Why?
  • Should I start making a weekly or monthly time to hang out more with this friend?


Or you could start making new connections at the park, an event, at school. Anywhere. On the flip side, give people grace when they might be feeling lonely. Their distance and bad behavior may be symptoms of a more significant issue they are internalizing. Better yet, ask them if they need help with anything. You could brighten their day.

If you or someone else you know ever starts feeling loneliness in the worst way, breathe. Realize that often it’s a temporary phase that can be resolved by leaning on old connections or creating new ones. Of course, dealing with loneliness is a personal process. Take your time.

There is no shame in feeling lonely. However, we should remember to do our best to avoid the type of loneliness that affects physical and mental health because there is so much more life to live.

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way!

Thanks for reading,

~Katheryn

Note: This article is a summary and review of a piece done by Freakonomics Podcast. The source can be found here: https://freakonomics.com/podcast/loneliness/.

 

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About the blogger

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Todd is currently a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Akron.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Dr. Houston has been a photojournalist, an Executive Director/CEO of an international non-profit organization, a clinician, published author, researcher, and an academic. This professional journey has shaped a world-view that embraces diversity and supports engagement across cultures.

Dr. Houston has a passion for ensuring that others have an opportunity to fully express themselves.

Combining his journalism background with more than two decades of focused work with children and adults impacted by hearing loss, Dr. Houston has co-created a company that is committed to producing a range of content that informs and inspires.

Through the 3C Digital Media Network, Dr. Houston will bring together a diverse array of voices who can tell their stories and inspire others to be their very best selves.

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