Alright, folks. My name is Meredith, and if this is the first time you’re reading anything on this fabulous platform by me, I want to make it known that I’m a big supporter of open and healthy conversations about uncomfortable topics in an effort to make them less uncomfortable. Hence, I’m here to open the floor to you all with my stance on cancel culture, and I truly mean it when I say that. My goal here is to extend an invitation to anyone reading this, into a longer conversation. If you feel differently, or want me to see things from a different perspective, please enlighten me. We can learn from each other more than we ever utilize.
In light of various situations in this music scene, and further, in this digital era, the idea that “cancel culture” is one adopted by all is one that I find incredibly toxic. As a young person who considers herself to be extremely plugged in, I tend to feel suffocated by the pressure to always be informed. I think there is something wonderful to be said for the fact that we have seemingly transformed from a society that systematically blamed victims, to one that hears them and rallies behind them. However, I would be lying if I said the implications that accompany this aren’t sometimes problematic.
To start, I want to stress the importance of looking into things before “cancelling” someone. The idea that you should believe something purely because someone posts it online is flat out ridiculous. I’m sure some of you will disagree with me, and I’m okay with that. However, I believe in finding the truth and in supporting it. There is not always hard proof for everything, but do at least a little bit of research before forming an opinion and moreover, before sharing information on it. I wouldn’t ask you to present on a topic in front of thousands of people, if you had never even heard of the topic before. In principle, this is the same thing. You have more power than you know just by virtue of having a Twitter account, and I urge you to think objectively about the ways in which you use that power.
To snowball from that, I want you to never feel guilty about hunting for the truth. You are allowed to want to know more information before writing off someone in question. This does not make you a bad person, and more importantly, it does not make you a supporter of abusive behavior. It means you are thinking, it means you are looking at the situation at hand from a balanced perspective, and I’m proud of you for that. There is a gaping, absolutely GIANT gap between what it means to support/sympathize with abusers, and wanting to know more about a situation before taking a side.
This is something I struggle with at great length. I find myself asking whether or not I’m in poor character, purely because I refuse to blindly follow the leads of those I follow online. This is the very essence of what makes this cultural narrative so toxic. We should not be promoting the idea that you should feel bad about yourself, or question your own character, for thinking. If I, at 22 years old, am having these self-doubts, imagine what this is doing to young, impressionable fans. We cut people out and shame them for thinking for themselves, or for disagreeing with the majority on these topics within the mere seconds after they’ve been brought to light in the first place. What kind of dictatorship is that? The music scene I got into when I was younger would’ve never stood for that. Come on, there are literal songs about the patriarchy and how fucked it is. Should we not treat this situation the same way? I want to stop shaming people into thinking a certain way, and I want to allow them to find out how they feel for themselves. It is 2019, and in so many ways we are miles ahead of where we were. This is one of those things that has seemed to have slipped through our fingers, and we desperately need to do better.
I think the second huge part of “cancel culture” is the idea that people are incapable of change. This part is not nearly as one-size-fits-all as the first portion of this piece, rather it is something that is extremely subjective. However, it is how “cancel culture” earned its name. We are quick to shun people for their mistakes, without allowing any room for education or growth. There are inarguable situations where this does not apply, and it is justifiable to no longer accept people into this music scene. I am in 100% agreement with that. However, applying that school of thought to every situation is unfair. This goes along with doing more research before forming an opinion, but again, I want to urge you to think before you shout about the ways in which you feel. It is okay to take time to figure out where you stand on things, and figure out whether or not you think the person in question has changed or is capable of doing so.
Generally speaking, and without pointing fingers at anyone, I think the problem at the core of this narrative is simple: we need to take the hostility out of the equation. Allow people to ask questions in order to form a clearer opinion. Allow people to have a differing opinion on a situation than you, and moreover- try to learn from their perspective. You don’t have to agree, that’s the beauty of it. However, there might be something in where they are coming from that can add to your growth. None of us are perfect, we are all just trying to be better. It is much, much easier to grow with the help of your peers than it is when their backs are turned.
I am leaving this open-ended. I do not want to be the only voice in this conversation, because it is not just a problem that I face. We are all dealing with this as fans of music, and as humans in this world of growing digital freedom. We have megaphones in the forms of screens, they are attached to our hands at the disposal of our thumbs and impulsive minds. Don’t let that go unnoticed.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you,