Why cancel culture is so bad for our mental health

Cancel culture centres for wellness and health

Social media and many online communities and platforms are rife with the term ‘cancel culture’, particularly in recent years.

Cancel culture or ‘cancelling’ is markedly different from other forms of passive rejecting behaviours (such as ghosting or gas lighting) and is a much more direct way of cancelling out a person, group, organization or culture.

What is cancelling culture?

Broadly, cancel culture or cancelling is a complex individual act that spreads to groups and can cause significant harm.

Consequences

Celebrities are at high risk of cancelling culture and getting ‘cancelled’ can happen to anyone – particularly when someone in the public eye, such as J.K, Rowling, Britney Spears and even members of the UK royal family, say (or do) something wrong.

Cancellation

Very often, when a person gets cancelled – people stop supporting them, and the cancelers actions automatically put an individual at risk of other harmful and toxic situations such as:

  • Public ridicule (usually driven by fear, hatred and anger)
  • Offensive and hateful comments and remarks (particularly on social media)
  • Experiencing shame and a lack of justice
  • Being at the whim of other people’s opinions, political or otherwise
  • Social rejection
  • Collective bullying – particularly on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety

What is the cancellation process?

cancel culture and wellness

There are two parties involved in any cancelling episode; the canceler and the person, group, organization or culture that gets cancelled.

Powertrip

According to researchers, there are three main psychological processes involved in the cancel culture and cancelling process, they apply:

  • Identifying and becoming aware of an offence, misdemeanor or wrongdoing, and judging it to be highly significant
  • Experiencing intense negative emotions
  • Actively engaging in punitive behaviors that may be harmful or upsetting to the wrongdoer

Why people get cancelled

Cancelling occurs when the cancelled entity’s actions or behaviors, whether they are direct or indirect, get deemed as morally wrong.

All this happens in incidences where a person engages in particular behaviors or upholds strong beliefs about specific topics, including:

  • Racism
  • Following a specific political group or upholding controversial beliefs
  • Engaging in acts of animal cruelty
  • Defending world views that may get thought of as offensive and wrong to society

Observations

Whether an indiscretion is real or perceived, cancelling occurs when the cancelled entity’s behaviour gets viewed as morally wrong or socially unacceptable in the eyes of the canceler.

Cultural opinion

An indiscretion can cover anything from upholding specific cultural opinions through to violating intensely- held political values; the canceler may also observe particular actions or behaviors that he or she feels are unacceptable such as:

  • Sharing or liking a politically incorrect tweet, comment or online conversation
  • Sharing (or writing) an article that may be viewed as toxic or induces controversy, hurt or other negative consequences
  • The abuse of power (mainly if the cancelled entity is in the public eye, such as President Trump)
  • Having a strong opinion about specific subjects or topics that may cause harm or offence

It can happen to anyone.

Non-celebrities are also at risk of getting cancelled, particularly those in business. 

For example, a restaurant owner who serves horse or rabbit meat at his or her establishment may unwittingly join the cancel culture club.

In this case, the restaurant owner has violated firmly held values around animal rights – the canceler (or group of cancelers) may also become:

  • Angry
  • Outraged
  • Disgusted
  • Fearful

Rejection

social media and shaming

Another element to cancel culture is public rejection. All this can result in name-calling, bullying, shame and depression.

Other cancelling behaviors may involve:

  • Getting the person fired from their job
  • Ruining their reputation by bringing up past mistakes, demanding they apologize, and other harmful behaviors that may cause shame.

Mental health implications

There are a whole host of reasons as to why ”getting cancelled” is terrible for our mental health.

Firstly, and as the adage goes, ”to err is to be human” and, unfortunately, cultivating a cancelled culture leaves little room for mistakes and even less room for redemption.

Forgiveness

If someone makes a whopping mistake – people often stop supporting them, there is also a lack of forgiveness among communities and friends.

Research suggests that anxiety and depression are at an all-time high because of canceled culture – people who get cancelled also feel isolated and lonely and feel as though no -one will accept them.

A lack of forgiveness is terrible for the cancelled and for the person doing the cancelling as it cultivates the fixed notion that we should behave and be perfect all of the time; cancellation also offers little hope for those seeking redemption.

Has someone done something wrong? Stop supporting them!

Research shows that a canceled culture has an abrupt resolution to problems; it teaches us that if someone else has done something wrong, we should stop supporting them.

All this is irrespective of whether people apologize or show genuine remorse for their bad behavior.

Essentially, we all make mistakes throughout life. One of the problems with cancelling culture is that it runs along a perfection paradigm.

If someone makes a mistake, they should be tossed out of society, get called out on their behavior, and get forever punished!

Statistics

Research conducted by ”Town Hall Poll” has reported that since 2017, 58% of American citizens have started to self-censor influential people online.

For example, the claims made against Ellen DeGeneres about bullying on her show saw a decrease in her popularity and to her getting censored.

One thing that is for sure is that bullying should not get tolerated in any way, shape or form- however, even after DeGeneres made a public apology, the country was still up in arms.

Downside

The implications of having a cancelled culture mean that people cannot correct their behavior and are unable to free themselves of past indiscretions, all of which leaves hardly any room for growth.

If canceled culture continues to cultivate punishments on those hoping to redeem themselves – this leaves no room for resolution, all of which makes cancel culture part of the original problem.

For example, if a drug addict seeks recovery from addiction but at the same time gets constantly judged and ridiculed for his or her habit, then how are they supposed to get clean?

Cancel culture is part of the problem

cancel culture

Cancel culture often forms part of the problem – since getting cancelled does little to help the problem; it serves to keep the issue alive!

If someone holds rigid worldviews on a particular subject and then gets cancelled for said views, they are unlikely to get educated and cannot correct themselves or learn more about the subject at hand.

On the flip side, cancel culture also helps to debunk bewildering and rude comments made by people online, all of which is necessary to combat bullying, fake news and social injustice.

Anxiety and depression

Cancel culture has both positive and negative aspects, and it is crucial that before we start cancelling people out-that, we have all the facts at our disposal.

Mental health is a particular concern for practitioners regarding cancelled culture since isolation, bullying, and an overall lack of support can induce or add another dimension to preexisting mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Therefore, we must demonstrate understanding, respect and compassion to those around us regardless of how widely different their opinions might be. 

The future of mental health depends on it.


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