The Road Paved with Good Intentions
The last decade has borne witness to a rise of various social justice movements seeking to defend marginalized members of society falling short of the mainstream societal standards. The war bells against prejudice, lookism, racism, sexism, were ringing and it had seemed that the people have finally become “woke” to their shortcomings. Since it is well-known where the road paved with good intentions leads, it is surprising, is it (?), that people have not stumbled, at least midway through, in realization of their surroundings.
Consequently, cancel culture was born. As a way of holding someone, who might be in a superior position than yourself, accountable for their (mis-)deeds and words. An admirable notion, which yielded terrific results in relation to rejecting “cultural figures or works that spread harmful ideas” (Romano, 2021), especially when considering its appearance in African-American empowerment movements and other more recent occurrences. Nevertheless, as Carr (2020) had observed “oversimplification, emotionalism, tendentiousness, tribalism” tended to prevail on the internet, and considering that the “tribal man has no point of view” (McLuhan, as cited in Cuenco, 2021), due to him only wanting to prove that his “political tribe” is right, it had devolved into cancelling everyone and everything not adhering to the politically correct norms of today’s world. Thus, statues of important figureheads rolled, Rowling was cancelled yet again, as were other persons with controversial opinions, favorite childhood cartoon characters got sidelined, and comedy was scrapped due to the “racial slurs”. Simultaneously, cultural “appropriation” seems to be tightening its rope around writers’ creative outlets.
Therefore, all these modes of fighting for human rights, raise questions whether people have gone too far and are censoring and further alienating each other so that they can be politically correct, and not give anyone offence. Euphemisms, or soft language, are pervading people’s speeches, everyone is afraid of committing a faux pas and, paradoxically, everyone is refusing to step into another’s shoes. According to Hankins (2021), and the studies he listed, “substantial minorities don’t want to engage socially with students who don’t share their opinions and think it’s okay to silence views they believe are wrong”. It is discouraging to think that the reality of debates, broadening each other’s horizons, and respecting one another, despite differing perspectives, might remain in the past, in the name of not offending anyone. Even though “many markers of social progress such as gender equality and minority rights once offended mainstream sensibilities” (McBain, 2018); thus, making many furious, uncomfortable, and offended, but enlightened, as well.
It is important that we start realizing that without honest human interaction, appropriate education, the ability to freely express ourselves, and realization that someone might be profiting from keeping us secluded in our little tribes, as the algorithms of big companies are doing, we might end up in danger of gaining superficial outlook of the world, while isolating ourselves from each other further, which might culminate in us becoming susceptible to various systems of manipulation. Not to mention everything we could, and might, lose, if we continue walking down this path. Politics has never yielded the results we wanted, there is no reason why it would now, when used, amongst, and against each other.
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