Traversing Cancel Culture: What You Need to Know
As global Muslims living in today’s digital space, we are always part of the evolving multitude of conversations touching on diverse issues. With such infinite opportunities to be heard and be vocal, at times we may find ourselves trapped in an abyss of virtual hate which could easily manifest in online communities beyond our immediate network of family and friends. Such amplifications could potentially snowball into participating in an online bandwagon that spews and even encourages (targeted) hate, with real repercussions beyond the virtual dimensions.
Delivering Hate With A Swift Click
Have we ever been part of an online hate campaign to cancel someone? It takes more than just unfollowing someone on their social media accounts. Or, blocking their accounts. Perhaps, we have unconsciously participated by trolling, for instance, repeatedly leaving mean comments in response to a post we found disagreeable. It might even feel especially easy when it is someone we have never met or talked to, such as a celebrity so far removed from our daily realities. Deplatforming anyone seems harmless; out of mind, out of sight it seems.
Since we are the arbiters of such values and judgments, are we infallible and not flawed?
The situation is made worse when instantaneous, unfettered opinions that contribute to an information overload hijacks the online narrative. It leads to reducing an individual to a single post or incident. As easy as it is to troll in calling someone out, have we taken the necessary, yet often overlooked or underestimated, step to get the right context before jumping on someone’s throat online?
Distorted context is a dangerous road to travel on. With the act of cancelling being performative on our part, have we taken the time to reflect on what it might do to the individual being targeted?
And, when an online apology is issued by the said individual as it is instinctual to do so when facing backlash, do we readily accept it; more so as a form of instant gratification to satiate our thirst to be seen as ‘right’?
Careful What You Wish For
The irony of it all.
Take a moment to reflect the following: Aren’t we ‘cancelling’ ourselves when we do any of the above?
‘How do you mean?’ you might ask.
Essentially, we choose, whether consciously or subconsciously, to shut down conversations, engagement of minds through discussions, and the peeling of layers of ideas through debates on points of disagreement. By participating in cancel culture, we choose to not only remove the opportunity of the targeted individuals to defend themselves, much less share their voices; we are effectively taking away chances for us to grow and check our own biases in life.
Words are powerful. Words are akin to bullets that could hurt someone else. When an individual deliberately engages in controversy, it is expected to be faced with backlash and criticisms. However, do we opt to ‘punish’ the alleged errant here and now? Do we immediately indulge in cancelling the individual by shutting down debates — at best a meaningless act as it stigmatises conversations and discussions in the long term?
Be Brave Online And Offline
“Look me in the eye and say that to my face.”
How many times have we thought that to ourselves after reading certain random comments dipped in lava of nastiness directed at us on our social media accounts? How do we feel when the tables are turned?
Simple: It hurts.
Since we perceive our online accounts as an extension of ourselves and being, we cannot help but be fixated on such negativity with aching discomfort. What are we doing to ourselves when we encourage and participate in cancel culture? We are just as complicit when we do nothing to help rectify the situation. We owe it to ourselves to choose to do the right thing online and offline.
As we traverse and negotiate our way in the complex and unforgivable digital terrain, keep in mind the following:
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِٱلْعَدْلِ وَٱلْإِحْسَـٰنِ وَإِيتَآئِ ذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱلْبَغْىِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Indeed, Allah commands justice, grace, as well as courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.
[Surah An-Nahl 16:90]
Gotta agree that cancel culture is definitely happening everywhere be it either offline or online. I would classify those who are not receptive to feedback or asked for feedback but still “run the show” according to what they want as extremely toxic and incompetent personnel in my organisation. I hope your organisation does not have such people.
I often see posts from the app Muslim Pro that seem to propagate ideas promoted by the current selected authoritarian regime. Very happy to see something that question if we aren’t loosing our freedom, our freedom to be ourselves. Thanks
This writer is really bold and really know what we (as a reader) wants. Why isn’t it on Instagram? This should be make known to all.
Jazakallahu khyran. Whether online or offline, there should be the fear of Almighty Allah in us every time.
i love how well this article is written. so far i have not seen any article covering such topic. this is refreshing and it illuminated my mind.
Thank you, we had just hit an impasse when algorithm’s intervened. Much appreciated & timely Correlating Coincidence ‘CC’ on Cancel Culture thank you
I’m impressed by this article “cancel culture”which speaks volumes about widely held perceptions. I’m frequently reminded that life is about the quality of our journey
I wish there are more like this writer. We all should try to follow Allah’s commands in the above verse of Quran-Hakim
Alhamdulillah, I was directed to this website and this place is amazing! The similar minded people feels really great, no picture , no average funny comment, no meme Alhamdulillah! Can’t really express in word how nice it would be to team up together for a bigger revolutionary purpose, only if Allah wills! SubbhanaAllaah!
My friend shared with me this article and i got to agree with her and this article. On our first day back to work in office, we faced cancel culture by our superior who think too highly of himself. It was so prominent as there were close to 0 eye contact during meeting. It’s frustrating when our voices were unheard and were not even acknowledge. I thank Allah for giving the strength cause work is work and i am not there to make friends or whatsoever. For some reason, i am annoyed that writer wrote this article and it is close knitted to what we are facing at work.
Dont get me wrong. I am annoyed in a positive way. I really love this article and its beauty.