Two perfectly innocent words when combined have become toxic: Cancel culture.
The easiest way to become ‘cancelled’ is to post something sexist, racist, or trans/homophobic online. In the olden days, we called this ‘trolling’ and implored everyone: Don’t feed the trolls. These days, because online life is the only life we have, no dodgy stone must go unturned.
But how effective is the practice of cancelling someone who you don’t agree with or whose views you find offensive? Most trolls thrive on being cancelled. If there’s no audience, there’s no point in their being online. Each time you bite back at Katie Hopkins, you justify the Uber Troll calling her a respected British journalist (as opposed to a self-publicising waste of skin cells).
Another argument against online cancellation is that it simply sends the trolls underground. Free speech sites like Parler provide ready homes to hate. Poke the trolls enough and you get insurrection.
In Rebuilding Alexandra Small, I explore cancel culture. When a TV couple split, it’s Megan Macmillan who finds herself out of favour, while Clive hosts their popular weekend show solo. Like Alexandra Small, Megan finds ways to rebuild her life.
What do you think? Should we cancel those whose views we find abhorrent online, or fight their words in other ways?