Say something, do something, or be someone I don’t like and I’ll flame you, unfollow you, or even block you. If I REALLY don’t like what you said, I may seek to enlist others to ruin your career or even cancel you from our culture.
I reserve the right not to expose myself to ideas that challenge my worldview. If you cross that line, I reserve the right to destroy you. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a famous celebrity or a long-lost friend from elementary school.
Meanwhile, I also reserve the right to be completely hypocritical about how and when I apply these standards, if they’re violated by political, religious, or cultural heroes of mine and it causes me too much cognitive dissonance to apply my standards to them, I’ll ignore and defend them to my last tweet.
This is the mindset of what some have called “Cancel Culture” or what I’ve called for years the Unfollow, Unfriend Culture. Social media, with it’s ability to block or delete someone with a single click, has simplified this, as have prevalent cultural mindsets that subdivide human beings into real and false tribes. Either agree with me 100 percent or I’m instantly clicking you out of my life.
What all of this really is, in my humble opinion, is the mindset of an infantile ego. It’s a small child stamping her feet to get her way. It is not the mindset that creates a compassionate, free, or democratic society where dialogue happens. It’s a recipe to further and further divide us into smaller and smaller circles ending with us being alone and ruled by that childish ego.
We’ve given this brand of ego the ability to create its own despotic fiefdom in our minds.
Is this the enlightened society we want? Do you REALLY want to disown your cousin or your best friend from second grade because he or she voted for someone different or fails one of your cultural litmus tests? What of their humanity? What of yours?
Is it really sound judgment to dismiss people that way? Think how complex and contradictory you are. Shouldn’t they be given the same slack?
I absolutely believe this mindset is an existential threat to critical thinking, freedom, and the compassionate society we must be building in the 21st century. I run several Facebook pages. I’ve never blocked one person, even when they’ve been disrespectful to me. Instead, I try to remind them of their humanity and mine and reestablish that connection. I’ve been instantly blocked on Twitter for daring to disagree, but I’ve never blocked one person. I simply don’t believe in it. Free speech gives other people the right to disagree even with my most cherished ideals. I never forget their humanity or that freedom because my ego is bruised.
This kind of culture only persists because we allow it to. If the social norm was to think of everyone you encounter as a free human being who is where they are in their journey based on their experiences just like us, maybe we’d have more compassion and understanding for their position.
I want to close today with an affirmation of sorts; a kind of pledge. Are you willing?
Affirmation: I refuse to participate in a culture that demeans, dismisses, and cancels other human beings. I’m beautiful, but far from perfect myself. I choose to see that beauty and accept that imperfection in others. I don’t know everything and I haven’t experienced everything. I accept that others can look at life and reach different, reasonable positions from mine. I reserve the right to dialogue respectfully with others in an attempt to persuade them, in the best tradition of a free society. However, I refuse to strip them of their humanity or diminish mine in that process. A sane, enlightened world is possible and I will do my part to bring that world to life.
I love and respect each and every one of you. No matter how similar or disparate our experiences or our views. Namaste and Aloha. I bow to greatness in you and I come to you with respect