It’s More Than Just Cancel Culture

Imagine a world where the thoughts of just a few people become the reality we all share. Good or bad, all of their ideas are realized and we are forced to follow along. Utter chaos? 1984? No, 2022.

Whenever I think of social action, I instinctively think of the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests. After all, that’s what I’ve been taught in history class. This depiction holds true for most of us. But that version of history is rapidly changing. In my world, the “action” in social action has become digitally combustible and its reach has become instantly global.

I am a sophomore in high school, and my generation is often portrayed as championing a form of action known as “woke” activism. In the same breath, we are typically characterized by pundits, celebrities, and politicians as arrogant and narrow-minded. But I think that we are the symptom of a deeper problem.

In the past year, we have seen the country gripped by forms of action like cancel culture, which seeks to diminish a person’s public standing for something that they did or said. While some targets of cancel culture are truly at fault, many are guilty of little more than being politically incorrect. Cancel culture is only a piece of how my generation is being changed.

I am writing this because people who are not immersed in this culture cannot truly understand how it affects those of us who are. At our age, we are extremely malleable. And we are at risk. When public discourse is debased, it isn’t just political values that are twisted beyond recognition. Moral principles can be too.

Let’s look at Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets star who refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Irving’s stance makes no sense to me—a sense that the government shouldn’t tell people what to do with their bodies. But people have begun tearing into Irving personally, and for reasons having nothing to do with his opinions on vaccination. Many have taken their disagreement with Irving’s political decisions as a license to attack his moral integrity.

Disagree with him all you like on the vaccination matter, and you won’t change the fact that Irving secretly bought a house for George Floyd’s family. Under the banner of activism, some loud voices have convinced a significant portion of our country that one controversial stance obviates everything else Irving is and has done.

Judging and canceling a person so completely based on one single decision is unreasonable. But it’s becoming more and more prevalent.

“Woke” activism targets this weakness. A broader tendency to overwhelm logic with emotional appeals. Political influencers consistently use catchy phrases supported by selective evidence. As young people, we are inclined to follow calls for revolution instead of appeals to reason. I’ve seen friends and classmates changed by the words of individuals armed with no more than a camera, studio lighting, and a divisive opinion.

This emotionally charged mode of conveying information has created a generation unaccustomed to critical thinking. Our loss of logic gives way to a mob mentality.

Dr. Seuss has recently been pulled back into the spotlight for his depictions of African, Asian, and Arabian peoples. The books which included these cartoons were pulled from production by Theodore Geisel’s trust. They’ve since been removed from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. As an Asian-American, I personally saw the drawings in question as racist and thought the removal of certain books was justified. However, some “activists” would lead us to believe that the life work and impact of Dr. Suess must be wholly rejected. They decide to recreate their own overly simplified story of the people they target.

How do we fix this mess? I’m not calling for social media platforms to restrict political speech. Schools don’t need to crack down on free expression. Parents shouldn’t moderate their kid’s social media. Instead, we should all take active steps to resist the worst aspects of “woke” activism.

As we begin the new year, there should be one word that guides us: Reason. We must start by resisting the urge to make quick judgments on important issues. We must think things through and look at the whole picture. I know that most of my generation think we are informed. But what is the value of all that information if we are so easily manipulated?

We have to make an effort to think harder now. If we don’t, how will we make constructive decisions later in life, when the consequences are greater? The principles of the Civil Rights Movements and Anti-War protests haven’t left us yet. We are all capable of harnessing them. All we need is logic. 

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1 thought on “It’s More Than Just Cancel Culture”

  1. RANDY F. GOLLION

    I’m a 69-year-old recently retired, college-educated citizen, laying in rehab from a slip on the ice and subsequent fractured hip surgery. I read the blog post/op-ed article by Winston Chu. It blew me away. Too many people are too quick on the draw in playing critic. I don’t think it’s just his generation, because I know we baby boomers rely too much on our gut instinct to make a fair decision on what someone else says or does. I blame the environment, All those television sitcoms and cinematic movies we were exposed to as adolescents in the ’50s and early ’60s. The color barrier and women and gay rights movements had yet to be played out. So, boomers are still a work in motion.

    Winston Chu is a teenager, yet packed with the wisdom of a Supreme Court justice. I’d seriously consider voting for him for president, sometime in the future. That speaks very highly of his parents and the education system that surrounds him and shapes our young people.

    Our present world can be as scary place, as our future is unknown. I am certain that the younger generation will make swifter progress in keeping our societies worldwide on the civil side of the scale. Not an easy task. If an average senior citizen like me, can be educated, as expressed in his article, I see no reason why reason shouldn’t guide us in making those important decisions that lie ahead for everyone.

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