Cancel Culture Through Mom-colored Lenses

And….cut! A director says to end a scene, and as a result, silence any dialogue. These days, individuals are screaming “Cut!” across social media, whenever there is a disagreement or point of contention. It’s part of the movement to “cancel”—and in effect silence— anything and anyone we deem to be unmatched with our viewpoints. In a particularly divisive year, “cancel culture” seems to be the go-to solution for dealing with differences

Now, is there a point where self-preservation, mental health, and emotional safety should take precedence over maintaining a relationship that goes against those things? I think yes. There are issues that we subjectively condemn because of our backgrounds, life experiences, and upbringing. I believe no one else has the right to discount your convictions and personal assessment of what is healthy in your life. In those scenarios, maybe going separate ways from a person or brand is the logical solution. 

While it’s vital to have boundaries for intolerance, being fueled by a cancel-culture mentality can affect how we parent.

Most of the time, the core of cancel culture is about passing judgment based on a certain set of perceived standards. The problem is, judgment often leads to shaming. Being quick to shame someone based on one issue and concluding that he or she is no longer of worth, is not the kind of attitude toward people I want my kids to see.

What type of precedent does cancel culture set for the next generation? That mindset can transfer into how we respond to our children when they do wrong. I wonder, where is the room for grace? 

The troublesome outcome of cancel culture is the propensity to shut it all down. It’s not enough to agree to disagree. Canceling someone’s viewpoint entails cutting that person out of meaningful dialogue, any attempt at understanding, and life in general. But what does that teach our children? It sends the message that in response to facing something challenging, whether it be a person or perspective, they can simply declare “canceled” and move on.

Instead, we should set an example to our kids by focusing on the wrong behavior itself instead of grouping that behavior with someone’s entire existence. You can make bad choices, but that doesn’t mean you are a bad person. We should be teaching our children their behavior may be problematic at times, but that doesn’t mean THEY are a problem. 

Pandemic aside, it’s also an election year: Hello, drama, controversy, and division.

On a daily basis, I’ve witnessed social media being used as a platform for online shaming. Admittedly, I’ve clicked the “unfriend” button a few times. Intertwined with the shaming is the threat of disassociation from anyone who stands on the opposing side. As parents, we know that little eyes and ears are always watching and listening. I don’t want my children to see group shaming and ostracizing people as an acceptable resort to handling differences.

So where is the balance? Admittedly, I have yet to find a definite answer, but I’m striving to approach these situations by listening first and examining patterns of behavior, before taking to social media. It has not been easy.

In this heated political season, cancel culture has become a controversial topic. Some defend it as a way of taking control of your life (what you like/dislike, support/don’t support, etc), while others argue cancel culture is social censorship and practices intolerance. The definition states that cancel culture is “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

I 100% think public figures need to be held accountable for inappropriate behaviors and harmful opinions. But I challenge us (myself, included) as reasonable minds, to not-so-hastily establish that line between what is and isn’t tolerable. We absolutely have the right to determine if something someone said or done can be acceptable or not. But we also have a responsibility to manage our response to that.

As we take to the polls, I caution us against voting based on one issue, but encourage us to look at the entire representation of one’s character and actions over time.  

This buzz term, “cancel culture,” fails to concern itself with the fact that cutting out someone doesn’t mean that person, opinion, or ideology simply ceases to exist. In some ways, maybe we are just attempting to divert our eyes and look away.

I’m a believer in finding opportunities to educate, learning through compassionate conversation, and rational dialogue that allows for personal growth. That can make all the difference in sharpening our character. Sometimes it takes having our beliefs tested and being able to defend them rationally, to truly grow as a person. 

I am so thankful that God has never canceled me, even when I’ve been all too deserving and in the wrong. I mess up daily: just ask my kids. Let’s remember to try offering forgiveness and the chance for people to change. Make room for grace. Perhaps we need to get back to the basics and learn to communicate better. With the right approach, we can teach and inform rather than belittle and expose.

My kids do and say things I disagree with all the time. When they do, I want them to know they can come to me and have honest dialogue about it. When they make mistakes, I hope they can be used as teachable moments for growth instead of shame.

Rather than canceling people, maybe we can recognize that sometimes people can change and heal if given the opportunity. We can set the stage for the next generation by showing them the best way to develop character is to stand up for your beliefs, challenge what is right, confront uncomfortable situations, and do better.

Jollene Hastings
Jollene has been married to her husband of 7 years and has two young boys. She grew up on the coasts (CA and NJ), but moved to the Midwest for college. After graduating from journalism school at Mizzou, she moved to KC and has fully embraced the BBQ, sports, and arts scene the city offers. Her and her husband have a medical supplies company, but she is primarily a SAHM and CEO of staying busy. Being a foodie, she enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants, party planning, and eating all the desserts. Her other interests include: traveling, Pinterest-ing, fashion, volunteering, music arts, bargain shopping, and taking 100 pictures of her boys--daily. She is grateful for family, adventures with her sons, and a loving Lord.