Cancel Culture & Our Mental Perception by Paola Fernandez

“Cancel Culture” habits die hard. Every outraged response, every spiteful comment liked, every video made in response to a cancellation affects our mental health. 

Cancel Culture is more than holding individuals accountable. It directly interferes with our mental health due to our response. Constantly being saturated with petty commentary towards a cancellation can make us become irritable. Feeling entitled to behaving in a righteous manner is what causes that irritability and if our social media feeds give us similar commentary, we ingest those comments and bring them into our real world, our everyday life, our relationships, and our overall perception. 

Cancel culture has lost its meaning throughout the years. It first began to hold others morally accountable and to foster an understanding that actions and words do matter, and they can hurt deeply. Striving to be better is something altruistic that humans can achieve. However, with great power comes great responsibility. 

Cancellation power is getting abused. Now a mere mistake can be seen as malicious behavior instead of recognizing that humans are flawed, and intentions are on a case-by-case basis. In turn, this has caused a deep decline in our mental health. It has impaired our judgment and our reality. What we learn online we take into the real world. As individuals, we start to act out. Irritability negatively affects our interpersonal relationships. We become less tolerant of others and start to develop an all-or-nothing mentality. 

“All-or-nothing thinking” is commonly described as a cognitive distortion with people who deal with anxiety or depression. However, I do believe “all-or-nothing” can be applied outside of mental illnesses. It is a common way of overgeneralizing the way we view situations. 

Being heavily involved in who and who does not get canceled can be a catalyst of an all-or-nothing mentality. We start to see things as black-and-white and never look at exceptions or circumstances regarding a cancellation. We start to disregard context. We may read a tweet or look at a headline and say “this person is immoral” without giving time to see how things play out. We feel a genuine distaste for someone we don’t know on a personal level. We start to feel entitled and start to feel hate in our hearts. We believe we have the power to cancel anyone and anything that makes a genuine mistake.  

In my Cancel Culture series, I have stated before that this does not excuse accountability. Accountability is important and it is a way for us, as a collective, to be better and do better. It is a way for us to change and grow. Society changes with time. Rules change. Every society has its own set of rules that we, as humans, adapt to.

Getting drunk on the power of taking someone’s reputation away can make us fall into cognitive distortions. These cognitive distortions can impair our perception and make our minds assume the worst of people instead of the good. We start to feel dissatisfied that people aren’t meeting our expectations. Instant gratification gained online translates into our real-world expectations. 

We don’t tolerate people as they are. We view them as an end to justify the means. We start to assume their character without getting to know them. We don’t give each other chances.

Holding expectations onto other people can hurt our interpersonal relationships. This is not to be confused with boundaries. Boundaries are a healthy expectation for respect and comfortability. Boundaries are subjective and personal. One person’s boundary may not be the same as another person’s. However, it does not hold unrealistic expectations onto people we meet. Boundaries set the limits we can and cannot cross. It does not distort someone’s character based on one mistake.

Examining and taking breaks from social media helps us be in touch with our reality. There are no distractions. There are no outsider voices persuading what you think or feel. There is no emotional catalyst. It is just you, your thoughts, and the people who matter to you. 

Paola is a collector of all trades. She loves philosophy, music, design, writing, sociology. Living in Miami, she feels at home next to a palm tree and a couple of mojitos. As a Digital Communications/Sociology undergraduate, she incorporates her writing and design with sociological teachings. She is a big believer in duality and hopes to be a powerhouse in what she does. Instagram: @paology_

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