Posted in Discussions

Discussion: The Inefficiency of Cancel Culture and Alternative Solutions

“This is how it all begins.”

First line in I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Hi, guys. I’ve debated a lot with myself whether or not to write this post, but I came to the conclusion that I had too much to say to just stay quiet. I have a background in communication and I have seen so many communicative problems with cancel culture that I wanted to offer my input. To start off, I quickly want to define what it is I’m referring to when I say cancel culture:

Cancel culture is mostly a social media phenomenon where people “cancel” or withdraw their support for someone/something in a very public manner because of something the person/company did or said. It very often involves public shaming or bullying of that person/company in different ways.

In this post, I’m going to discuss the effects of cancel culture with a communication perspective and why cancelling someone is the worst way to solve a problem. First, however, I want to you to, please, forget about whatever topic we’re cancelling people over this week. This post will NOT reflect my opinions on anything other than the use of cancelling to solve issues.

How I See Cancelling Used

From what I’ve seen, the method seems to start on Twitter where people call out a person for behaviour or an opinion they don’t agree with. The ball rolls very quickly after that as Twitter is great if you want a message spread fast. If the person doesn’t correct their mistake or apologize immediately, they will get cancelled. Sometimes, it doesn’t even help to apologize.

That is one part of it. Another side to cancel culture is about attacking the people who don’t cancel that problematic person. I see so many tweets telling people to unfollow and stop supporting someone (as if those are naturally synonyms). They are often very aggressive about it and thereby pushing other people to follow along. You see, these tweets often include threats about you being cancelled too, if you don’t comply. Being cancelled seems to mean that it’s okay to bully you, which you obviously want to avoid.

The purpose of cancelling seems to be to change that one person’s opinion and maybe even the similar opinion of others. I suspect they also want to create a more lasting change in society by showing that that opinion/behavior is not okay.

How Cancel Culture is Inefficient

In my experience, “cancellers” are not helping their cause. They often see an issue as binary, as if you don’t have the exact same opinion as them, then you’re against them and what they’re fighting for. That eliminates any discussion that might have been had because they refuse to listen and learn about nuances and gray areas. I often see conversations shut down because one side is trying to argue how cancelling isn’t solving anything. It’s the equivalent of bickering about battle strategy with your allies while the real enemy escapes. That becomes an even bigger problem if we’re shooting at our own allies. The real fight is taking place somewhere else.

Refusing to engage in conversations and discussions will not change anything about society. It only helps YOU. And let me be clear: If you decide to unfollow someone or stop supporting them because of your own personal reasons, then that’s totally fine. If they’re ruining your mental health or you just don’t like to engage with them, then you don’t have to of course *whispers* there’s just no reason to announce your unfollow if that’s the reason.

But back to those who believe they’re creating change. The unfollow and harassment of the person they disagree with, also indicates that there are no conversations taking place between the two parties. The very thing that could have changed the person’s opinion. Instead, they attack which just doesn’t help. When we as humans are attacked we naturally get defensive and will defend our opinion with everything we’ve got. Not because it makes sense but because we see it as an attack on our entire self. You have to be very self-aware to not go down that route. Also, try to remember the last time someone changed your opinion by yelling at you. Not an effective method.

What To Do Instead

I think a part of why cancel culture exists is because people feel a need to “do something” but feel sort of powerless, which I totally understand. Pressing that unfollow is an easy way to feel like you’ve actually taken action. Then the harassment comes along because unfollowing wasn’t quite enough.

But yeah, that’s the easy way and as we’ve established, not very effective. If people feel a need to create change then that’s much harder because they need to talk to people they disagree with (the horror!!). As someone with a communication degree, I’m often frustrated with the fact that communication isn’t a mandatory subject in schools because, damn, do people need it! It would solve so many problems before they even start. So I’m now going to list off a few pointers on how to have a genuine discussion/conversation:

  • Get off Twitter! 280 characters are not enough to express anything properly. You have a higher risk of coming off as rude and harsh which will kill any conversation. The best way to discuss something would be in person, of course, but I understand how that’s not always possible. Most other social media platforms have unlimited characters so those would always be better than Twitter. If you can have the discussion privately, that would be a major plus so that no one else can interfere.
  • Enter the discussion with the intention of learning something. Probably the most important point. A discussion is an exchange of ideas. It’s not a lecture where one party tell the other how wrong they are. If that’s your mindset, you might as well save yourself the trouble and avoid the discussion. But that won’t solve anything, of course. Everyone needs to enter the discussion with the awareness that they don’t know everything. Something one party brings to the table might be a gamechanger for other.
  • Listen. In connection with the previous point, every party needs to listen in order to understand the other. Understanding where people are coming from and why they hold a certain opinion will help immensely when trying to create common ground. When people feel understood, they are more likely to accept any suggestions you make.
  • Be nice and respectful. Yeah, I also think it’s sad that we need a point like this, but have you seen Twitter? I’m not going to teach you how to be those things. But again, people are more likely to accept your suggestions if they like you.

These are some very general things to be aware of but every discussion is different so this list is not exhaustive. And even if you can check off all of these, the other party might not be willing to. If you still want to engage in a discussion, I can only recommend that you put your ego aside for a bit and just listen and understand that other party. Let them take control of the situation to begin with. And other times, one just has to accept that there’s no conversation to be had and walk away. I know that doing this won’t solve everything, but it will always be a necessary starting point.

In Conclusion

This is all very, very hard! But no one said change would be easy. There are also several other problems with cancel culture that I haven’t touched upon in this post, but that would simply have made this too long. I only focused on the communicative problems because those have been the most frustrating for me to watch unfold. The most important take away from this post should be that screaming into the void on Twitter isn’t changing anything. It only creates the toxic environment on Twitter that we all hate.

I hope this was helpful. I’m not the most popular blogger but I sincerly hope this reaches someone who will have use of it. Please share your opinions on the topic in the comments, whether you agree or disagree. I would love to continue the discussion.

Posted in Fun Lists

Tropes I like in Books

“Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.”

First line in Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Today I wanted to talk about a quite popular topic I guess: book tropes. Tropes are certain elements or themes that appear in a wide range of books and many tropes are even adherent to specific genres.

Tropes aren’t necessarily bad but some can feel overused and unoriginal. That is not always the case so I wanted to discuss some of the tropes I really like to see in books. They are the things that grab my attention when reading the synopsis of a book and ultimately makes me want to read it. For each trope I mention, I’ll also give you some book recommendations in case you’re also a fan of that specific trope.

The Chosen One

Definition: A character embodies the Chosen One trope by being the only one who can solve a problem e.g. slay the dragon, save the world from total destruction, overturn the corrupt government. They can be tasked with this through a prophecy or because they possess some ability or skill set that no one else does.

Why I like it: This is a very unpopular trope at the moment, but I still really enjoy reading about a chosen one. I like reading about how the character handles the pressure of whatever task he/she needs to complete. It gets very psychological because the character questions themselves about who they really are and what their morality is like.

A LOT of books contain the chosen one trope but here are a few I really enjoyed:

A Strong Friendship

Definition: A friendship between two or more characters that makes you wish you were friends with them too. It’s deep, wholesome and central to the plot.

Why I like it: I will always prefer a strong friendship to a romantic relationship in my books. Characters sanity and logical sense often goes out the window when they are in a relationship. I don’t want that. I want characters who care for and understand each other but still insult the other on a daily basis. They need to keep each other grounded after all.

Here are some examples of beautiful friendships:

Royalty Out of Their Element

Definition: I’m going with a very broad definition here. A member of a royal family that is somehow thrust out of their comfort zone. Examples are leaving their home to go on a quest, being kidnapped, suddenly being forced to make life or death decisions for their kingdom.

Why I like it: This is really just a fancy way of saying that I like royalty in general in my books. I like how a royal person can start of by being a bit entitled and naïve about the world and then learn through their mistakes. With a bit of development these royals often display strong leadership skills and maybe some intelligence.

Additionally, I really prefer my books to be quite political and a royal main character is just the best way to achieve just that.

Here are some books with awesome royals:

Medieval European Setting in Fantasy

Definition: The story takes place in a setting reminiscent of Europe in the Middle Ages in terms of political structure, architecture, way of life etc. This does not mean that everything is exactly the same but that the author has used it for inspiration and can change whatever they like.

Why I like it: I’m European and have spent a lot of time studying Europe. A fantasy story set in Europe is familiar and easy for me to get into. The Middle Ages is also just a time of great turmoil which can be a foundation for many conflicts.

Books set in a medieval-Europe-inspired world (there’s a lot but here are 6):

Hate-to-love romance

Definition: Two characters despise/want to kill each other for justifiable reasons but then realize that their strong feelings are actually love. The characters are often forced to spend time together in a situation that makes them see the other character in a different light e.g. a dangerous mission, homework assignment or they are trapped together.

Why I like it: When I read about a romance, I need it to be passionate and fiery. In my experience that most often occur when love blossoms from hate.

Here are some books where characters hate each other before they make out (naturally, slight spoiler):

Tyrannical Government

Definition: A tyranny or a corrupt government that functions as the main obstacle for the main character. It’s often embodied by a single person (e.g. president, ruler, king) that needs to be removed for our heroes to win.

Why I like it: As mentioned earlier, I find it fascinating when books revolve around politics. Even though it often appears in fantasy books, these political themes are what connects the books to our real world. It gives me something to think about. I also just like seeing how these villains abuse their power to their own gain. It’s a different kind of power in fantasy book where the villain often has some kinds of great magical abilities.

Here are some books with governments that are seriously bad:

That was a long one. Do you like some of the same tropes as me? Or did I mention tropes that you absolutely despise? Let’s chat in the comments.

Happy reading!