We live in a world which, on several levels, is presented in binaries. Intolerance seems to be at the crux of the ideologies of a significant chunk of so-called liberals. Liberalism emerged as a political doctrine that essentially believed in - to put it very simply - every person’s right to have an opinion that stems from their personal experiences - to live and let live.
From JK Rowling’s contentious and transphobic tweet kickstarting a rage-fest amongst several youth circles over the internet to, casual conversations such as “Amit supports BJP, he’s cancelled bro”, the idea of accepting an opinion different from one’s own seems to be lost.
A common argument that I come across is that of JK Rowling’s apparent power to shape the mindset of several young minds across the world. Let me ask you a question - how many times have you changed something you staunchly believe in because a popular icon said so? To elaborate, I would like to bring in the theory of the ‘third person effect’, a part of which states that a person is likely to overestimate the impact the media has on others. In the end, the environment in which a person is raised shapes the way they approach hot button issues.
Quite often, the reactions that certain statements elicit are not tantamount to the severity of the message conveyed. The emergence of cancel culture, or, what can be labelled ‘modern-day social ostracism’ is only a subsection of the amount of intolerance floating around the world. ‘Hate’ is not just the property of ‘conservative right wingers’ but also that of proud ‘liberals’.
Not only does ‘cancelling’ someone die down after the culture finds a new victim and by virtue of that has a very minute impact on the target, but I also believe that it is an incredibly irrational practice. Does this mean that people are not allowed to have views different from yours? What really makes your views better than the person who is being ostracised?
There also seems to be a basic lack of understanding of the fact that in a world that provides such diverse experiences to everyone in it, it is virtually impossible to find people with the exact same views as you. Moreover, the hypocrisy of shutting down radical views with radical measures is often bemusing.
I would say that Cancel Culture is no less than McCarthyism - while not of the same degree, it definitely mirrors the past on the opposite end of the spectrum. The notion of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is subjective.
My argument does not suggest that people quit expressing their opinions, if anything, it encourages it - whether it be the left or the right-wing. As much as I wish we could live in a utopian world where racism, homophobia, sexism and the array of social issues ravaging our society ceases to exist, it is not pragmatic to believe that it could potentially exist.
This is not me ‘cancelling’ Cancel Culture, but me expressing where I believe it is erroneous. After all, unpopular opinions, especially on a dimension as volatile as social media, can not possibly fail to anticipate the consequences of their words. Moreover, what is evidently a reaction to hate speech should not be confused with free speech being attacked by ‘liberals’.
It would not be wise of me to expect changing minds, after all, that would go against the entire ‘disquisition’ above. If anything, I look forward to this piece getting slandered - as it does nothing but prove my point - the single greatest commonality among the human species is the fact that we are very very different from one another.