I’ve written in the past of how polarised we have become & how that polarisation is fuelled by many for their own agendas. Increased views. Pushing products. Fame. Whatever the reason, getting people outraged or being outraged is a highly successful way to accomplish a goal.
A story that is currently unfolding as I write this is around an “influencer” who goes around trying to frame white women for doing wrong, jumping on the now popular meme “Karen”, a term used for white women who do awful things which usually stem from a bigoted mindset, and in doing so ended up doxxing a woman IRL.
That tweet putting this woman on blast has recorded over 82K retweets and over 176K likes. This just shows the power of outrage and how it fuels social media in many ways, particularly on Twitter.
Watching how outrage culture morphed to the point that it is today has been both terrifying and fascinating to watch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that I too have been caught up in it at one time or another and that is what makes it so terrifying. It takes so much work to see if something is a ruse versus when it’s a real issue worth fighting about.
The rise of cancel culture
What could be said to have risen from the birth of Outrage Culture is Cancel Culture. This is another wave that swept up social media and has also grown into a behemoth that is hard to describe or put labels on.
Cancel culture, I used to believe, was driven by righting wrongs and putting a stop to anyone who is deemed to have done something socially unacceptable. Issues arise everywhere from inappropriate jokes, sexual assault, racism and more and are dug up and presented for the public to judge.
If the consensus is that they are in the wrong, they are in a sense “cancelled”, which is to be shunned by society. Any brands affiliated with them remove themselves to avoid blowback or do so due to public pressure and thereafter society moves on to the next person.
It is prolific on social media, which is evident by the fact that almost daily someone is “falling” when you look at the latest hashtags trending locally. Cancel culture was something that was driven by “leftist” politics with a modicum of success, but for the most part the accused is dragged through the mud for a time & then as is the fickle nature of online, the world moves on.
Right wing followers saw the power of cancel culture and they too began to use it as a weapon to bludgeon those that called out their beliefs. Popular figures had their past thrown out into the open for the world to judge with the intention of silencing their voices.
Staying quiet around sexual harassment, wearing blackface in younger days, saying racial slurs. What it turned everything into was a mudslinging contest which resulted in a race to the bottom. People learnt to post things out of context and blatantly omit nuances to paint someone in a clearly bad light. With how fast social media moves, by the time innocent people could correct things, it was too late and the online world had moved on.
Is cancel culture a necessary evil?
I’ve been deliberating for some time how we got to the point we have with Cancel Culture and if it was a good thing, and that is where my train of thought was going. That line of thinking and my general view to Cancel Culture came from a place of privilege and then I was asked not focus on why it has become so toxic but why the need to cancel people online still prevails.
I started to think more about this and then I realised when you have no other avenue to deal with a problem, the anger, frustration and hurt has to be let out somewhere. We see this happen in gaming time and time again, on Reddit when gamers have no other option but to put a company on blast before the problem is corrected.
Gaming itself has had a reckoning in recent days, with countless women coming forward to detail the sexual, emotional and verbal abuse they’ve experienced in gaming culture. Reading the litany of stories is sobering and a reminder of how anti-women gaming culture can be. Those stories often detail how the issues were brought up through proper channels and were dismissed or outright ignored.
Its been two years since Cecilia D’Anastasio broke the story around the sexist culture that permeated Riot Games. How many of those raised issues were swept under the rug, aggressively dismissed and in some cases retaliated upon by management at Riot Games?
Racism is also an issue that has always plagued gaming culture and something I have written about at length. It took #BlackLivesMatter going global more than once before gaming studios came out in support against racism and started taking active steps to combat it. In those instances, I too felt there was no avenue to challenge these issues but the frustrations boil over and what else can you do but turn to social media in a cry for help?
Gender-based violence is a pandemic that has ravaged the women in our country and when you look at the statistics on how reported crimes are handled, the despair is overwhelming. Of the over 2 300 calls registered by the police department around GBV, only 148 suspects were charged. That is 6.43%. (Source) Those are just suspsects charged, not even successfully jailed.
I do not presume to know what those affected by GBV feel whatsoever, but when you see the statistics and the stories that come out about how nothing is done, you begin to understand why Cancel Culture is where it is today.
When you look at how hard black people have had to shout to be heard and respected and even then, the most people do is pay lip service, you begin to understand the anger that is felt and expressed on social media. Cancel culture is here because society has failed the oppressed at every step and every turn.
You look at LGBTIQA+ communities and how every day so many are fighting for their lives, protesting to be viewed as equals and yet despite all the literal blood & tears, there are still a multitude of countries who do not recognise them, many of those on our own continent.
From my place of privilege I wanted to debate a symptom instead of acknowledging the disease that led us to this point. I am no saint and every day I’m trying to learn more and do better but that’s not enough. Men are not doing enough and the world is broken because of us.
When gaming clips are posted of women being harassed on voice comms, why is it that all the other men in the video stay silent or laugh nervously? Those same men are the ones clamouring “Not All Men” and victim-blaming.
White people have not done enough to help society. White people that stay silent but post a black square on social media thinking that they have played their role. They believe because the worst thing they’ve done is say nigga on a Kendrick track in their bedroom, they’re absolved of all the crimes. Those same people are out here screaming “All Lives Matter” and discussing race using imaginary colours.
The inaction of so many of us, myself included, is why Cancel Culture exists and why it remains. We need to dismantle a system that does not care for people of colour and especially does not care for women.
If you don’t want politics in your games, stand up and actually speak out. Call out friends with bad behaviours. Don’t just silently disagree with sexist or racist actions you see around you.
Gaming culture is so prolific in the world, we cannot live in our digital bubbles and pretend we have no influence on the real world. What we allow in gaming has real world consequences whether you want to believe it or not. Stop being outraged at Cancel Culture until you help address the inequalities and injustices that it stems from.
Last Updated: June 26, 2020