Who’s Canceled?

In the culture of mass internet use and influencers, what does ‘canceling’ really mean?


Marissa McElreath

“You’re canceled”. “He’s canceled”, “she’s canceled”, “they’re canceled.” These are all phrases our generation has become familiar with. 

‘You’re canceled’ is a slang term that originates from the song, ‘Your Love is Canceled’ created by Nile Rodgers in 1981. The term is created in the song when comparing a breakup to the cancellation of a TV show and continued to be used in that same context. Today, the term means that a social media influencers’ fame or career is claimed to be over or blacklisted by fans and followers. With social media use and extremism of politics rising, there are a significant number of influencers who have been ‘canceled’ over the past few years. Some view it as a rightfully given punishment while others see it as an unfairly pointed finger. Some people even doubt the existence of ‘canceling’ and the culture surrounding it. 

A survey conducted by Pew Research in September of  2020 that asked 10,093 adults from the U.S. about ‘cancel culture found that the more in touch a person is with politics, the more familiar that person is with the term ‘cancel,’ with either party being equally familiar with the term ‘canceling.’ So is ‘canceling’ people based solely on politics? According to some students within our school, no. People can and often do get ‘canceled’ based on their political views. Chris Amaya, a senior at Copper Hills said, “Maybe you get canceled for who you hang out with, whether that be (the) left side or right side.” 

However, people don’t get ‘canceled’ because of politics alone. When asked if politics or political views were the reason for getting ‘canceled’, Ethan George, a junior at Copper Hills, said, “Politics do play a factor into some ‘canceling,’ but most of the time it’s public run or community based (beyond politics).” So, is getting canceled actually based on how someone contributes and interacts with their community aside from politics? If we look into some influencers that have gotten canceled over the past few years, we would see a common pattern where they are ‘canceled’ due to how they’ve harmed or wronged their community. Whether that be through their actions or ideals, they all have a common factor of community. 

Some people question why cancel culture is toxic and not considered just holding people accountable. Social media platforms can serve as something like a highway of miscommunication. Situations can easily get blown out of proportion or the information related on these platforms can be inaccurate all together. There have been situations where influencers have been rightfully accused of their wrong doings but that’s not every case. There are a lot of situations where people get ‘canceled’ based on an action they did years ago. Jenna Marbles is a good example of someone who got canceled for mistakes she fixed years prior to her being officially ‘canceled’. If the action was a repeating one over the years then that’d be understandable, but the majority of the influencers attacked for these mistakes have shown obvious growth away from their wrongdoings. 

When we ‘cancel’ people based on things they’ve obviously grown away from, we’re promoting the idea that people can’t grow or change. This further promotes the idea that we can attack public figures for every mistake they make, even the smaller ones that just make them human.

Luckily, however, all of this is on social media. It is not something that has to affect our daily lives unless we let it. We forget this a lot because of how terrible the media paints society to be, but there is constant good in the world. We need to stray away from social media and our phones and recognize the world for what it truly is, flaws and all. All this isn’t to say that change shouldn’t be enacted. Communities grow and thrive on change but we can’t tear each other down for being human to the degree we do on social media and call it effective change.