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Sunday, September 13

You've Been Cancelled

Cancel culture - what a modern classic this is proving to be. The straw man against it goes something like this. 

A temporary argument against...

The hyper sensitive online activist types, censure people for minor thought crimes, piling on to try to do damage, while ACTUAL NAZIS get into power in government.

There's a lot about the above which is not true, but there's an element of truth in it.

At its worst, stirring up an outrage for what amounts to passing expressions of opinion by individuals is not particularly constructive, especially when it involves mining their timeline for that particular tweet in which they were a dick. When that outrage is then turned into a public humiliation, or an attack on their livelihood, to which the particular tweet or similar was not directly connected, then it seems like a form of bullying. People are going to have different opinions, and pile-ons are not society at its best.

For a better perspective on this, read So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. In fact read all of his books, he's great.

But I've come to agree with it...

Earlier in this blog post... like a couple of sentences ago, I spoke up against cancel culture, and now I'll speak in favour of it. I hope I won't be taken out of context.

My own view about cancel culture is something like this.

If you're publicly being a dick, then the public may choose to filter out your dickishness.

Where this applies to someone's job is where this gets tricky. Anyone whose job involved NOT being a dick, may lose their job over actually being a dick, and that's harsh, but probably fair.

A good example of this is the firing of Rebecca Long Bailey over a tweet that seemed to some to be anti-semitic. While it's arguable whether she had anti-semitic feelings, or even biases when she tweeted, the fact that she is a politician in a party under fire for this sort of thing, meant she should have known better and was acting recklessly

The free speechers...

There are those who argue for free speech, in a situation where it's not freedom of the individual to campaign to make life better, or freedom to criticise the government, but more freedom to be generally harsh or nasty to people. The argument goes something like "I can't be put in prison for what I say". This is true up to the point where your verbal actions are themselves used as assault on an individual or protected group, and you can be punished for that.

The next argument goes, "Don't have a go at me for what I'm saying, if you don't like it, it's your problem - you could not listen".

In fairness, the second half of that is not really being debated. Those who speak up against someone else's freedom of speech being used by them to be a dick, are generally not so much saying that they don't have the freedom to speak so much as saying that they're being a dick. When I use my freedom of speech to criticise what you're saying, then if YOU don't like it, you can not listen to it.

Free speechers hate being cancelled...

I have the right to say what I like. If you don't like it, then don't listen. What do you mean you've blocked me? How dare you react to what I'm saying by deciding not to listen to me...

It all comes down to Rule 1

Wil Wheaton is right yet again. Rule 1 is "don't be a dick".

When I look at the examples I've seen of cancelling, the majority of them come down to someone who's acting in an increasingly unlikeable way being asked to go and do it away from our nice people.

But cancelling doesn't make it better

Tiring though it is, having belligerent arsehole cluttering up our timelines and news feeds, none of them choose to change their ways when cancelled. They essentially double-down, taking their followers with them to new heights of arse-mongery.

That said, I've been heartily blocking people whose output is disgusting, rather than engaging with them.

You can't fix these problems online. As the world becomes more connected via non-human online channels, we're perhaps doomed to become more entrenched in the most stupid of our opinions and least able to rationalise our way to some middle ground.

Hoo-fuckin-ray! 


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