Why Cancel Culture is Toxic

Sara M. Cortés
3 min readMay 26, 2021

Cancel culture has been described as “the phenomenon of promoting the ‘“canceling’” of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies”.

The term comes from call out culture while being a form of boycotting. Its ideal consequences are the loss of reputation as well as the loss of income and nowadays, fame. These “ideal” consequences are not always true. Cancel culture has been going on throughout human history. In ancient civilizations, people were commonly punished for behaving outside the norm and not following society’s expectations. It is evident that our society has evolved greatly from those times with us now tolerating different opinions. Why then why should we go back to disregarding free speech and punishing those who differ from us?

As Elon Musk said, we should cancel cancel culture. With its foundation being sort of reasonable, cancel culture has evolved to being more than toxic. It has been popularized by “gen z”. The problem with normalizing cancellations in such a young generation is that it starts to spread to not only celebrities, but all the way to their peers and equals. Highschool is a tough time for students in which they explore the ideas of wrong and right. This exploration is necessary for them to develop moral limits, but what happens when they are no longer allowed to explore through their behavior? Many teenagers are facing cancellations from their friends leading to the extreme consequences of bullying. Teenagers often experience traumas in social interactions due to their fragile mindset and cancellations that may not always be correct are an unhealthy and not objective way for them to be punished.

Even if cancel culture was limited to just celebrities, it would be far from being effective. Cancellations usually come from opinions that are constantly repeated without thinking. Some celebrities have been cancelled for being mean, but at some point, who isn’t? It is absurd how someone who spent their whole life building a career and making sacrifices can lose all of that for just being human. Here we are not talking about extremes such as intended racism, but about how not being as nice as someone expects you to be. All of us have good and bad days., We shouldn’t let one mistake ruin a lifetime.

Cancel culture has been getting out of hand lately. It is now not only limited to celebrities but also anything that can be interpreted as being famous. Even the innocent books written by Dr Seuss are now being cancelled because of people that take them too seriously even though they are just children’s books. Disney classics started to be cancelled as well as “Space Jam”. This has clearly gotten out of control. Even “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben’s” have gone through cancellation for portraying a logo with a black person on it. They were then forced to change it in order to maintain their reputation.

Cancel culture is also silencing open debate. An article in The Conversation explains how, “While prefacing their comments with support for current racial and social justice movements, the signatories argue there has been a weakening of the norms of open debate in favor of dogma, coercion and ideological conformity. They perceive an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” One reviewer argued that the following, “Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.”