I’ve been thinking about #CancelCulture. We’ve seen this phenomenon spiral into a frenzy over the last few years. It seems to have spun entirely off its axis over the previous sixty days. Conservatives have pushed back by voting with their pocketbooks. While I respect the premise of challenging cancel culture, I don’t think that boycotting is the answer.
It’s divisive to take any position on cancel culture. It’s especially so when you take the position I will espouse here. Both sides are wrong. Allow me to explain.
Wrong is a strong statement. I know it sounds like a lecture. By wrong, I mean ineffective. Canceling people because they say words or take positions you are uncomfortable with is the textbook demonstration of not defeating the weakness of the claims you are canceling. If I say something stupid, insensitive, factually incorrect, etc., you should be able to conquer my ignorance with your counterclaim. This is the basic structure of arguments.
I provide a claim and support it with what I consider to be substantial evidence. You offer a counterclaim and support it with what you think to be significant evidence. We go back and forth until one of us has demonstrated the superior set of claims and proof. Failing that, we confirm that each position is solid enough to stand as a reasonable point of view.
Why cancel me? Why wouldn’t you rather defeat me in a battle of wits?
It’s interesting to note that cancel culture is losing cachet. I’ve seen a new trend on specific social media sites now referring to it as #ConsequenceCulture. The idea that you need to admonish me with a social consequence because of my speech or position on an issue reeks of moral superiority. I’m curious to see how the rebranding goes for the ‘Cancelers and Lords of Consequences.’ I suspect removing the veneer of cancel and replacing it with consequence will do more harm than good.
Boycotting is equally ineffective. Sure, voting with your pocketbook has a short-term impact on businesses. If your business model cannot adapt, this will turn into a long-term crash, likely resulting in your business closing. In that regard, boycotting closes struggling businesses. It doesn’t take down giants. They adapt and use the messaging from the social boycott to rebrand. It often gives them a bump with new business from like-minded customers. Think of Nike or Apple. They love being seen as packaging their products with a social message. Boycotting them only serves to reinforce the messaging they want to deliver.
The better alternative is to create competition. Canceling can’t and won’t occur when a viable competitor exists. If I cancel you while you have a viable option, I drove you straight into my competitor’s arms. I hurt my business and helped him. At the same time, boycotting doesn’t create competition. It merely means people have stopped doing “X.” It doesn’t translate into people doing “Y.”
For me, the solution is simple. Don’t cancel; don’t boycott. Create a viable alternative. This gives you the platform to spread your message where I can do nothing to stop you. Maybe, I’m oversimplifying here. If you think so, you’ll have to prove me wrong.
As always, this has been the World According to Chris. Please hit the like button or leave a reply.