Johnson City, TN

Cancel Culture - Is it Real

John M. Dabbs

We've seen the demonstrations. BLM and other protests walking the streets in Johnson City. The ETSU basketball players kneeling during the national anthem. What's next? Is cancel culture going to take root in Johnson City?

(Photo by Camilo jimenez on Unsplash)

Some announce a "cancel culture" has arrived. Is this a refuting of our beliefs and standards? How are people faring amid the rhetoric?

Cancel culture

Cancel culture, the promotion of “canceling” people, brands, shows, and movies because some people find them offensive (problematic actions, or statements/ideologies).

"This isn't a new concept. The roots of cancel culture have been present throughout human history. Societies have punished people for behaving outside of perceived social norms for centuries, she said, and this is just another variation. Cancel culture is an extension of or a contemporary evolution of a much bolder set of social processes that we can see in the form of banishment.... [They] are designed to reinforce the set of norms.” - Dr. Jill McCorkel, professor of sociology and criminology, Villanova University. (in an interview with The New York Post)

Are there different standards

There are different standards for segments of our society. A few people call out and "cancel" others through social media for remarks. Are they ignoring others? Does it matter that much which circle you are in? Recently, we've seen measured outrage over a Saturday Night Live segment. The segment suggested Israel was vaccinating only Jews against COVID-19 within its borders. Was this an antisemitic dig, or simp ignorance? Were they unaware of the large Arabic population within Israel? Many may not realize that while Israel is 74% Jewish, it has a healthy (21%) Arab population (another 5% comprises non-Jewish, non-Arabic people).

(Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay)

Piling on

Social media has become a powerful medium for people who want to pile on to the "cancel culture movement". Facebook and Twitter have both singled out people for their remarks. They've become their own "cops" and labeling posts as misleading or untrue. These actions have placed politicians, celebrities, and companies under the microscope.

(Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash)

We've even seen Dr. Seuss come under attack recently. One of the most beloved and popular authors of Children's books, Dr. Seuss is known for his rhymes and characters. This week, his estate announced it would no longer sell six of his books. These reportedly contained "offensive imagery." These actions have created a debate on dealing with outdated images and language. Changing times have created seemly insensitive depictions of racial, ethnic, cultural, and even gender differences in past literature.

How would you fare under the magnifying glass of political correctness? Many people are de-platformed, like President Donald Trump. Others who are divisive or threatening (such as state-sponsored terrorists) do not get this treatment. Is it because of the political climate? The online mob-rule is a problem. It leaves little recourse and effectively snuffs out those whom they do not agree with. Do we actually want such power being wielded by companies? They may have a right to work their business for their profit... they are canceling out free speech. We may not like it - but we do not have to tune in either.

Online forensic investigators

Many who would "cancel" others have taken a deep-dive into social media archives. They search for missteps and statements to use against their prey. Should we use the past for character assassination against someone? What if they have no other history or did, but their trend does not support your attack? People change - for the good and sometimes for the worse.

Media and politics

Trump appears to be king of the cancel culture. This is according to the Washington Post, the democratic party, and other progressive media outlets. The truth is Nancy Pelosi, and the democrats are the ones running a cancel culture on American history. This truth is from the purported views of the GOP and conservative media outlets. It's nice to know where groups stand. Here, it appears, both are calling out the other. This would appear to make them both guilty in what should be an open dialog. The people of the world have made mistakes. The people of the United States are no different. We all have a history where we did something we are not proud to admit.

Is cancel culture bringing a resurgence in hate groups

Modern times have shown riots, and demonstrations filled with both hate and violence. We have also seen peaceful demonstrations. While we clearly remember those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021... Do we remember others? The left and right of our political spectrum point to the rioting and civil unrest during the presidency of their political opponent (U.S.).

The policies cited as the cause for these riots or protests are not always the underlying cause. In the 18th century, the U.S. had six riots/rebellions. There were 87 riots and rebellions in the U.S. during the 19th century - including the Civil War. The 20th century saw well over 200 riots and rebellions in the United States, and in this century, we are already over 50. (

The hate groups have always been here. There are more people now than ever before. The percentages are about the same. Social media may give such groups are more visible than ever before. The rest of us are also more visible and have a larger voice now than before. The economy has direct ties to a rise in hate speech. As jobs are lost, people blame others. Many see others as the blame for their own lack of success and often generalize these beliefs and attribute them to groups.

The world impact locally

While the cancel culture doesn't appear to be having a direct impact on our local community at the moment, social media does. Social media is carrying on the fight of political divisiveness and segregating us into groups.

That is the problem. We must fight against language which seeks to segregate us and look for our commonalities. It is our combined strengths that make us unique and strong people. Separate we are nothing - together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Don't sweat the small stuff. As it is written - love your neighbor.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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