How Effective Is Cancelling A Person?

Cancel culture is the latest buzzword nowadays. It is a way to call our small and big celebrities on their behaviour, views, misdeeds etc. Recently, we have seen several famous people who were cancelled for various reasons like their past tweets, behaviour, views and opinions etc. I became aware of this cancellation culture during the very public dispute between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. While Johnny Depp was dropped from major movie franchises, many were calling for the cancellation of Amber Heard. This was when I became aware of the act of cancelling celebrities and what it entails.

Many famous stars and public figures were cancelled in the past years, for example, actors Lea Michele, Chris Pratt, Ellen DeGeneres, Shia LeBeouf, author J K Rowling, Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain, YouTubers Jeffree Starr, Shane Dawson, James Charles, David Dobrik and his vlog squad, musicians like Marilyn Manson, Lil Nas X, and many more.

Before I start telling you about my grouse with this cancel culture, I would like to explicitly state that I do not condone the wrong deeds of any of these celebrities, YouTubers, musicians etc. Many of them deserve harsher punishments for their actions. In fact, I am happy to see some of these famous personalities get their comeuppance.

Having made that clear, I also want to question what we aim to achieve by cancelling them. Some of the people listed above have done real-world damage, for which they should be legally prosecuted in court. Whether it be bullying, slandering others image, perjury, harassment, endangering other lives, harassing minors etc. When one has done such heinous acts, is cancelling them an apt punishment. Do they not deserve a stricter legal binding punishment? 

All these people who were cancelled were public figures, celebrities that thrive on publicity and staying in the public eye. So it makes sense to cancel them and cut off the celebrity worship that they enjoy so much. It is like cutting off oxygen for some of them, yet we also have people who thrive on negative publicity. People like James Charles and Jeffree Starr have made an art out of issuing apologies every time they are caught and continuing with their degenerate behaviour. People like Piers Morgan and JK Rowling do not care for their cancellation. They continue on with life as if nothing happened.

So that brings us back to the very pertinent question of, ‘How effective is cancel culture?’

Are We Truly Independent

Independence is one of the most coveted aspects of our lives. For many of us, independence can be considered a perk that is bestowed upon the blessed few mortals. What is independence? Most people would say that it is the lack of control over our life, freedom to make decisions and choices. But, I feel that we all are missing the single most important aspect of independence. It is the lack of dependence on anything or for anything. You might ask me, what is the difference? And I will say, there is a lot of difference.

If independence were only a matter of freedom to make our decisions and to choose, then it becomes an external force that we have to fight. To remove the control of others is something that we fight outwardly and against others. However, when we talk about independence as a lack of any dependencies, then the fight becomes an internal struggle. Now, we have to fight ourselves to overcome these impediments, and that is not an easy fight to win.

When I speak of dependencies, it includes various types of them. It can be a financial dependency, emotional, substance abuse, physical dependency etc. One might have the deepest pockets and a steely grip on all aspects of their life. Yet, being a slave to approval from loved ones and general public opinions can cripple our mind. Something as simple as being dependent on coffee, to start the day, has a far-reaching effect that most don’t realize. A day without coffee can make you grumpy, slow and generally irritated. But we laugh off such dependencies. Some of us can’t function without constant reassurance and approval from friends and family. I may be a free spirit that is waiting to fly, but my dad/husband/obligations/debt is holding back the money I need.

It is time we all take a closer look at our life and analyse; are we really independent? Have we been living the life of a slave, a glorified slave, all this time?

Your Life is Your Journey

Since childhood, we are programmed to listen to the elders in the family. This is a good thing because the voice of experience is wiser than the curiosity of young minds. I benefited a lot from following their advice and will forever be indebted to all the grown- ups in my life for guiding me onto the right path. However, looking back at all the years, all those friends and acquaintances and all the experiences, I realized that many of us simply existed and at least fifty percent of our life was lived by someone else.

“When you grow up you can do whatever you want.”, is a standard dialogue that resonated in every house. And “Good children don’t argue they do whatever they are told to do!”, is another tag line that was attached to every sermon. We religiously followed every instruction to the dot. For some people, this eventually becomes a habit. Even after they are fully grown adults, they can’t think on their own. Every decision needs to be discussed. If by any chance, they have to think on their own, fear grips them and self-doubt and nervousness makes the decision making process pure hell. I’ll say good for them, if that is the way they prefer to live.  

If you notice, you will find people who give free advices and lecture others to do everything their way and people who follow these advices. What happens to those who want to do what they think is best for themselves? These people like to think on their own, not afraid to make mistakes and don’t feel ashamed to learn from experience. Don’t get me wrong, they do take advices from time to time whenever they feel the need to so but they don’t depend entirely on others to make every decision for them.

When one enforces their opinions on to others, or forces their decision on others, they are living the other person’s life. They snatched the other person’s right to choose what to do. Now this other person has to live with the consequences of those decision. if the results are good, then they get addicted to the support and if the results are bad they will forever blame the adviser and never take responsibility for those consequences. Isn’t it?

 I admire those free independent spirited persons who like to live their life their way. A friend of mine, let’s call her A, advised another friend, B, to begin her day listening to devotional music and it will dispel all her troubles. B replied that she does not believe in spirituality. Since that day A made it her life’s sole task to get B involved in spirituality even though B constantly scraps out A’s attempts. I wondered why she won’t give up. It’s her life, her wish.

In another incident, an elderly lady walked up to a younger lady and asked “Where is your son? Why didn’t you bring him to the party?”. To this the younger lady replied that he has school work to do and has decided to stay back at home. The older lady gave the young lady a long lecture on parenting and importance of socializing and that she should have forced him to come to the party. I couldn’t help but laugh.

If you are one of those people whose life has been controlled by dominating persons around you, and if you really want to take matters into your hands then you have my full encouragement. It’s never too late to go ahead and live it up. Don’t let them tell you that you are too old to watch cartoons. Oh! No one told that to you? Well, I was. I told them they are right and continued watching. Here is a list of things I heard the control freaks say to others:

  • Your children are into their teens now, stop wearing jeans and shirts. You have to wear sarees so that you look like their mother. Next time you come to the party make sure you are wearing a saree or else…
  • Girls cannot do a certain profession e.g. mechanical engineering, computer hardware engineering, orthopedics etc. These professions are better suited for men. Girls can’t manage it.
  • Tell me when you going out shopping, I will come along with you. You will not be able to choose the right products. You will waste all your money.
  • What is your child doing? Why don’t you send him for football training or swimming classes? (even though the child is not interested or is attending some other classes)
  • If the child is doing some school work, they say “Why is he/she sitting with books all the time? Ask them to come out and socialize or go out and play.” And if they are playing, they say” Ask him/her to stop playing and focus on studies after exams he can play.”

The list goes on endlessly. The more we allow others to make choices for us the more we lose control over our life and we become puppets in their hands. There is a danger that all decisions made are not to your advantage. This is like you sit down to play a game of chess and your opponent is playing his game and your game too. Obviously he would make your moves to his advantage. Right?

God has given us this one life and it has to be lived by us, not others. Each one has their own life to live. One can’t go about …I will live my life and I will live your life too. We learn from our mistakes, when we fall we learn to get up and the next time a similar situation arises we make a smarter move. Some times what goes for the goose does not necessarily go well for the gander. In effect your life is your journey, enjoy every moment of it and live it to the last second.

Our inherent urge to control

I recently read an old blog about our need to control people and situations around us. It was an article by a psychologist Dr Perry in his blog Makeitultra Psychology. It was a well written blog about everyone’s natural urge to have control over people around them and where this urge stems from. This article forced me to rethink my own behaviour and my attitude to the various situations and reaction to the consequences.

Not shockingly, even I had a habit to trying to control situations. I, however, masked this tendency to control under the guise of affection, care and guidance. When I observed the behaviour of others in my family and society, I see that it is a common thread. When you are an Indian, it is taken for granted that our parents have complete control on our life till we marry. Post marriage, the control shifts into the hands of our spouse. I am not speaking from a woman’s perspective, these control issues affect both men and women equally.

We often mask this tendency to control under the guise of affection. A mother has complete control over what her child eats, does and wears till a certain age. Once the child reaches the age to question this control and they start rebelling, then there will be frictions in the relationship. Some mother’s even resort to emotional blackmail to gain back any modicum of control in her child’s life. Most Indians and even Asians in general can relate to this situation.

I am not exempting fathers or siblings from this pattern of behaviour. While a father likes to have complete control on our educational choices, the jobs we take up, the investments we make etc, siblings exercise control on our social life, who we associate with etc. This is not a conscious effort on their part to control us. It is more out of our society’s standard that dictates this behaviour pattern. Anyone who stays from this pattern is labeled as an irresponsible parent or sibling. The society takes it upon itself to correct the situation till any and all semblance of freedom is removed.

The situation might seem dire and oppressive, but when it is so widespread and prevalent, no one questions it. There is a small wave of change coming about among the educated group s in major cities, but this change is small and far between. The youngsters are starting to fight back this oppressive attitude. Even some parents are seeing the flaw in the system and they have tried to give a free hand to their children wherever possible. Film and art fraternity have contributed majorly to highlight this issue with comedy, satire and even dramatic plays and movies on this subject.

The more that people speak on the issue and discuss it openly, the more will the change spread. It is essential to realize our mistake before it get out of hand. However, we should also be aware and alert toward the negative aspects of complete lack of control. With the rising crime rate, extremism, and the social media influence, there is always a need to control and monitor the children of the society. Strike the right balance and exercise control on yourself before one can try to control others.