“As soon as he has spoken with éclat, he is a committed person watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, who’s affectations must now enter into his account.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I recently stumbled upon an article on the internet detailing the ‘canceling‘ of a certain TikTok star due to some comments she made towards her chef. The advent of ‘cancel culture’, at least the widespread nature of it in the current media, is a direct result of the development and proliferation of the internet social media. It is something that I think is highly toxic and frankly quite dangerous.
None of us are the finished product: we will continue until the day we die to make mistakes, to learn from them, and to make more mistakes. However the permanence of the digital world is such that we can be brought to trial for things we have said or done in years past, which may not accurately reflect our views or persona in the present moment. I am sure you yourself would find it unfair to be judged and sentenced on the actions and beliefs you held 2 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. I admit, some faults are worthy of retrospective action, however by and large we should be free to be wrong, to grow, to change our opinion with new information — to be human. The d permeance of the digital world and its inherent risks make it difficult and risky to be authentic in public, as anything against the opinion of both present AND future societies can be cropped, mutilated and paraded for our own humiliation and the entertainment of the masses. I worry we only have seen the tip of the iceberg with regards to the power of mass media to direct the lens through which society and the larger public sees certain individuals, ideas, and institutions. For the benefits of amplification we get through the internet and wider technology, we have sacrificed much that is yet to be seen.
“The more neatly you fit into society, the less free you actually are.”
It should be the task of the modern individual to cultivate themselves, to freely change opinion and belief, and to strive towards the truth with complete disregard of the cultural opinion. It can be detrimental to completely turn one’s back on social media and the world, however too much exposure and catering to the masses will erode your ability to make judgements with your own moral compass. And as we have seen with cancel culture, your choices now may be called for questioning 25 years in the future.
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinions, it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson