Let’s Cancel Cancel Culture.
I’m just throwing this out there.
But can we maybe lay off the need to draw and quarter every single person who says something or does something or said something or did something that you or someone you know did not or does not like or finds offensive?
Was that confusing?
So is my growing fear of typing.
What if I just proclaim my own offense to the onslaught of rushing to judgment and unforgiving reactions? Do I get to cancel all of those people who rush to judgment and have unforgiving reactions, then, if I find those responses offensive?
Or are we going to sit in this place where being offended only counts for those who say it the loudest for the rest of time?
The bad news…I just lost half my audience.
The good news…I just gained a ton of new readers. Sorry, loud people, there is actually a much larger, though also much quieter, audience who will now cheer me on (just silently).
That’s how we roll these days, isn’t it? In a land of extremes? You are either on my side or you are absolutely deserving of every horrible thing that happens to you?
Which is a super simple summary of why cancel culture does not work.
The truth is, I'm just exhausted.
I'm exhausted from waking up every day and seeing another front page full of people or companies or brands that I am being demanded to be pissed off with. Spoiler alert, I’ve stopped paying attention. Keeping track of the boycotts became too mentally draining. Was that the goal? Insistence to the point where I finally just put my fingers in my ears and started singing, “lalala, I can’t heeeeeaaaaar you”?
Achieved. Frankly, I’ve mostly stopped watching the news, altogether. Unless Buzzfeed articles on amazing kitchen gadgets count.
I'm exhausted by the lack of grace, the lack of understanding, the lack of permission for people to have a past, the lack of room for improvement, and the lack of a learning space. I’m exhausted by the double standards and I’m exhausted by the snowballs born out of mere perception of infraction.
I rarely engage. I used to engage, though minimally, in my (probably incorrect) opinion. Each time I did engage, I would kick myself immediately upon realizing how incredibly useless it was to attempt to logic most folks back to reality. You know the old saying…just kidding, I can’t say the old saying as it is likely too offensive.
As I was saying…
Why am I perched on my soapbox on this fine day? I know it's dangerous to climb on any box at my age and current coordination status (which is: lack of). And yet, here I am.
Over the last few months, I have been following a bit of an “event” in the land of college gymnastics. This event has just parked itself under my skin and festered. So, yes, please, join me on my box, my logic fest, and my festering.
I am a huge follower of college gymnastics. I am a huge follower of any gymnastics, really, but college gymnastics gets a ton of play on television so I am fully invested from January to March. And, yes, I know college students are like the most super~dooperest woke people in the world. And they should be. Let them. Let them fight the good fight while they are young and full of energy and free time. Let them do the hard work and the protests. Let them make the signs and write the emails and do it all on two hours of sleep while still looking fresh.
Should I (a fifty year old) be bothered by the wokeness of these youngsters? Probably not. But now and then (and, yes, even in my own home where a college student currently resides), I do want to stand up and say “Hi, life-experienced adult here…real quick…exactly, what is our goal, in the end…?”
Anyway…back to the hubbub.
A few months ago, a story came out from one of the top college gymnastics teams about an incident of racism. This was obviously not great and was also fairly shocking as the team in question pretty much skywrites its policies on equality and love and fairness. The story was about how a (white) first year gymnast was heard singing along to a rift that included a racially insensitive word. Yes, she sang all of the words, even the racially insensitive ones. The song was being played on a public streaming platform. The singing of all the words upset her minority teammates.
The story becomes blurry beyond those basic facts because no one knows the actual facts except those who were there and, yes, the teenage infractor has not been given (nor taken) a public opportunity to explain (more on that later). No, not later. She’s under 18. The two teammates who have explained publicly are over 18. Maybe more later.
Still, all is blurry.
Were they upset that she used the racially insensitive word? Yes. Were they upset that she was confused as to why they were upset when they were also singing along but did not skip the racially insensitive word? Unclear. Were they upset because she (under 18, two days into her first away-from-the-safety-net-of-home experience) started crying and trying to explain why she thought it was fine? Yes. Were they upset because she wanted them to understand that she really did not mean anything malicious or hurtful? Unclear. Were they upset at the public streaming platform for playing the song with the racially insensitive word in the first place? Unclear.
Again, much of the story is blurry.
Unblurry? That the entirety of the thousands of folks that then began blasting the initial event and the events that followed were not there.
What happened next was a fairly quick transfer, for the offending first year student (who was two days into her first away-from-the-safety-net-of-home experience) to another university.
Next, both universities, both coaching staffs, and the not-an-adult-yet student began the joy of getting absolutely destroyed by the Gymternet, a forum that used to be a super fun cyber club dedicated to “oohing” and “aahing” during the competitive gymnastics seasons but has since become dedicated to anger and maliciousness..
Hi, life-experienced adult here…real quick…exactly, what is our goal, here…?
Is the only answer to the above situation to burn down both schools after having the offending young woman thrown off the side of a building? What will that do? And, because raking two universities over the coals wasn’t enough, the Gymternet took it even further with chatter given to a third university. Why? Because the third hosted a meet with the transfer school days after accepting the student and that meet happened to be its own annual love and acceptance fest and wasn’t that ironic??? So, I guess now we have to burn down that school as well. I suppose that third school should have gone back in time and rescinded acceptance of a schedule put together years prior by the NCAA in anticipation of the melee of Social Media, 2022 Version.
If anyone is willing to slip out from behind their keyboards and explain this all to me, please do.
And, while you are out, maybe read about the intention of the transfer coach’s invitation. As it turns out, it centered more on helping a baby adult through a very difficult learning experience while not completely destroying her psyche for the rest of her life than it did with the perceived approval of her errant singalong.
But hey, sometimes the formula to destruction is just easier: establish a wrong, destroy all involved with zero facts, wave your triumphant virtual signaling flag while no one learns anything at all.
Here’s the thing.
Most of us? We are actually too lazy to lean toward malice. Look around. See how most of society has their heads down, staring at their phones? See the drivers next to you at stoplights staring into space, oblivious to anyone around them? Or the folks in check out lines studying the candy? I can confidently promise you that most of humanity is really just not even thinking about ways to be offensive. And I don’t mean that pejoratively. We are just too busy juggling our actual lives to also fit in “be intentionally awful.”
Maybe, prior to reaching for the cancellation button while on some sick high, take a pause and grab some compassion instead.
Even now, as I write this blog, I put myself at risk of silencing. That is terrifying.
I actually have a lot of potentially good ideas and funny observations. Yet, each time I write or tweet or post or even compliment someone in that check out line, I do so with the knowledge that it may be interpreted completely incorrectly. One slip and that will be it for this writer. I could be canceled by a complete stranger. And it would have to be a complete stranger because those who know me know that I have nary a malicious bone in my body. Caddy bones? Sure, I am a lady, after all. My faux pas nearly always emerge from pure innocence. Or an inability to use idioms correctly. Or naivety.
But, see, none of that would matter to those with the loudest keyboards or voices.
As I was saying…I’m just exhausted.
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