It has finally happened….we are officially living outside the zeitgeist of the young. And it’s not just our respective ages that make it so but the age of the children we have. Case-in-point, the ‘cancel’ culture that we read about obsessively in the New York Times this weekend (‘Tales From the Teenage Cancel Culture: What’s cancel culture really like? Ask a teenager. They know’) All we kept thinking about was the laundry list of the things we need to remember to cancel… credit cards….Showtime on Amazon now that ‘The Affair’ is over (WE CRIED)…that subscription makeup, clothes, whatever service; BUT never people. Right?
Evolution of ‘Cancelling’ People
Truth is the same cycle of alienation, mistakes, sadness, awkwardness of youth has traveled through all of our lives. But the way in which social media, new media, all media, just amplify the pain these days is unsettling. The way in which the mistakes of old wouldn’t go farther than one’s school or small community of work, family, friends; it now goes worldwide in a few clicks. And it’s so much easier to be cruel. Cruelty and a lack of empathy is easier from one’s living room. In fact, it’s also worth reading the New York Times magazine article about ISIS training children to learn hate and how to kill (‘How Does The Human Soul Survive Atrocity’) At some point, empathy can just… evaporate.
It’s hard enough that many teens naturally see life in black and white. Remember how quickly you dismissed someone? But there wasn’t the facility to broadcast a hot-headed decision. Besides the isolation, there is a suggestion that this public ‘cancelling’ can also breed pockets of isolation solidarity…which can support those cancelled or quickly cause them to stand their ground even when they maybe vacillated on an initial position.
Why Not Embrace the Provocation
There is another side to the loud noise around us provocating and then turning us away from one another and that’s an opportunity to listen. Unfortunately social media only allows for lobbing thoughts into the ether and waiting for digital blowback (often mostly in the form of trolls…and not the cute kind we use to put on our pencil tops). The sad thing is we all have that friend who says outrageous things but we still care about them. And we used to even enjoy debating them rather than the immediate ‘cancel’ response.
Back to IRL
Which is why we need more than ever to ensure we have a life offline. That our kids spend time talking, arguing, thinking, BORED. And that we do too. There is a convergence between this rigid type of thinking and a culture of lies that we are drowning in. We see that truth is a spectrum just like all the people we know. And we need to teach our kids to consider it all and know when something is wrong, untrue and when we need to give someone another chance. We all regret cancelling something at some point…