Too Sensitive? Political Correctness & Cancel Culture

Image by Geralt on Pixabay

If I held a competition, should every competitor get a prize? So that everyone can be a winner and no one has to feel bad? I teach a classroom and see a child who can draw well. Am I allowed to praise this child as an artist, or should I withhold my applause? To not accidentally offend the pupils who cannot draw.

It is a shame; the answers to these questions are straightforward to me. I can’t believe some institutions need to ponder questions like this. No prizes for the losers! And if you can’t draw, ask for help or suffer in silence.

Hi, my name is Jason, and I regret to inform you that I will get cancelled. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how; what I do know is that I will say or do something that will offend many people. Ensure you subscribe to my newsletter to ensure you don’t miss it.

Why Have We Become so Touchy?

It’s challenging to balance “mindfulness” and free speech. We all have access to free speech, but not really. You can talk, but if your words don’t align with popular opinion, prepare to get screwed. Over recent years I have become familiar with the term “political correctness”, referring to refraining from forms of expression that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Do you know what a “snowflake” is? It is a derogatory term used to describe one who has an over-inflated sense of uniqueness, a grand sense of entitlement; they are easily offended and do not take well to criticism. When I often see people complaining on the internet, It reeks of unproductive narcissism, complaining because they want to feel better about themselves and how “woke” they are, all while receiving victim privileges. We even have comedians like Jimmy Kimmel being reported to the police for a joke; can you imagine how that conversation went?

Younger generations have placed a greater emphasis on emotional well-being over their physical well being. In modern western societies, we are less likely to face hardships that will impact us physically, such as illness, war, hunger, etc. The generations before us would have had to go through these things; worrying about emotions during these harsher times would be considered trivial. Things are better now; our quality of life is increasing, healthcare technologies are on the rise, and the threat of nuclear annihilation keeps most of the world wrapped up in a metastable illusion of peace.

We live in an age of enhanced communication technologies, and our lives have been transformed into consumable media. We can share intimate details of our lives and experiences with levels of transparency that has never before been possible in the entirety of human history; it’s easier than ever for us humans to form empathetic connections.

Whether you look at the news, read the paper, or look at social media, you’ll see people offended. Prepare yourself for the rise of the politically correct militia.

Times have changed, and So Have our Attitudes.

Thanks to political correctness, prejudice and discriminatory attitudes or behaviours have been sanctioned by society. They are far less acceptable now than ever, resetting the standards of civility and respect in people’s day-to-day interactions.

A few decades ago, it was customary to think that certain groups of people were superior, more entitled than others. Assigning offensive and demeaning titles to those you viewed as “less than” was considered normal.

People can be highly insensitive. If you were to google the “Minnesota experimental school for imbeciles”, you would find a detailed report written or published in 1881. It perfectly reflects the insensitivity toward people who suffer from intellectual disabilities, referring to the people as imbeciles, idiots, and feeble-minded.

Comedy suffers a lot from political correctness; some say comedy should have no restrictions, but I disagree. Douchebags like me shouldn’t be given access to unrestricted comedy; it won’t take much effort to ruin your day.

Is a joke always just a joke? Derogatory humour refers to jokes that come at the expense of a specific individual, social or cultural group. Of course, one should be capable of looking in the mirror and laughing; but sexist and racist jokes, for example, can be used to validate prejudiced attitudes whilst keeping the offence wrapped up in a cloak of fun and frivolity.

Cancel culture or call-out culture; some call it a culture of empathy; I don’t care what it’s called. To cancel someone means to stop giving support to that person. A form of ostracism forces people out of social and professional circles and often involves boycotting their services.

Cancel culture allows marginalized people to seek accountability when the justice system fails. The rich and powerful are less likely to be convicted of criminal deeds, but they still have to face the public’s wrath, affecting their livelihood.

Cancelling someone or a corporation isn’t exactly a new behaviour; boycotting has been an effective catalyst for social change throughout history. An attention economy exists, deprive somebody of your time and patronage, and it can affect your intended target in negative ways.

Society is slowly maturing its liberal moral agenda, attitudes that gradually encourage the acceptance of opinions and behaviours that differ from our own. We should embrace the shift in cultural norms motivated by a commitment to political correctness, but can it get to a point where it becomes toxic?

Our Progressive ideals Have a Toxic Side.

I am scared of being cancelled. Do or say something wrong, and you’ll face public backlash fuelled by politically progressive social media. It takes the form of celebrity hunting season, a quest to end the career of anyone who dares push the moral boundaries of society.

No matter what you say or do, there will be an army of critics waiting somewhere. When offended, the typical response that people have is to try and make a person shut up or question their right to speak in the first place.

We can be quick to dismiss valid arguments if we view them as coming from a place of privilege. Victimhood grants a sense of entitlement, enabling people to remove someone else’s right to speak. It may seem like a commitment to social equality; in many cases, it looks to be a form of ideological suppression, and shame is a very potent weapon.

We want to become more tolerant to prevent the marginalization of vulnerable cultures and social groups, but in doing so, have we become less tolerant of diverging voices?

Cancel culture facilitates online bullying; undoubtedly, it can incite violence and threats that far outweigh the severity of the original offence. People will threaten to kill you over the internet; they turn crazy once they get behind a computer screen because they feel free from the consequences.

Being cancelled labels you as an outsider; it puts a target on your head, giving people an excuse to talk bad about you and feel good for it. One mistake will cause people to question your entire life and self-worth. The people who do the calling out want an excuse to take the moral high ground and act righteous, gracefully opening the door and inviting a mass of people to participate in a public shaming exercise. Is cancelling someone true justice if the social media retaliation ends up being disproportionally more offensive than the exposed behaviour of the offender?

Have you ever heard of concept creep? It describes the expansion of concepts of harm and pathology; the range of things people are getting offended by is broadening. Concepts such as bullying, abuse, trauma, mental illness, and addiction have widened their boundaries to include a broader scope of experiences. Concept creep will get dangerous if we allow ourselves to get offended by relatively trivial everyday behaviours.

Cultural oversensitivity also interferes with honest, open and constructive dialogue between social identity groups. Political correctness may need a shift in tone to support those it was intended to protect. It makes sense that political correctness will aid those who’ve faced historical oppression, but it may not be this straightforward.

When the majority feel suppressed, a trickledown effect inhibits minorities from speaking out. Minorities will be less likely to speak because political correctness feeds into an atmosphere where people would rather tiptoe around important issues and each other. Our culture, tightly regulated by political correctness, has conditioned people to fear being judged and blamed and worry about how they will be regarded as representatives of their social identity groups. If people are afraid to address issues openly, they draw private conclusions instead, which may never be challenged or addressed. Consequently, resentment, distrust, and social tension will gradually build up, which is terrible.

--

--

--

Autistic and Opinionated

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Meet the students and teacher who registered their senior class to vote

On Abortion, Bill Weld is blinded to science

INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY 2020

Trump’s Operational Levels, part 3:

Talking to Myself, #4: Quid Pro Quo

We are a Banana Republic

My Two Opposing Echo Chambers

Worried About Our Democracy? Me too.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jason Maverick

Jason Maverick

Autistic and Opinionated

More from Medium

The Supreme Court Takes on Public ED

“Where Are You (Really) From?”

I GOT A BRAND MARK ON MY FOREHEAD

Speculative Objectivism As A Tempered Response’s to Reality’s Innate Vagueness