After the devastating news that Caroline Flack committed suicide yesterday, the online world is evaluating the nature of ‘Cancel Culture’ and why it needs to be stopped.
In an extension of ‘Call Out Culture’, today’s society has become guilty of cancelling well-known individuals who have done (or been accused of) something that is morally wrong or problematic.
This nature of ‘Cancel Culture’ is something that used to be reserved for online influencers, already a part of the social media world. YouTubers such as Manny MUA, Jeffree Star and James Charles have been ‘cancelled’ more times than can be counted, and it was only in March last year when the hashtag #ShaneDawsonIsOverParty was trending on Twitter after false accusations of animal abuse. These social media crusades result in a ‘mob mentality’ that can have a serious impact on an individual’s mental health.
Now – with the help of the British Media – this notion of cancelling individuals has made it across the pond to the UK.
After being accused of assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton, Caroline Flack was on bail in the midst of a court case that her management have now described as a ‘Show Trial’. Alongside the criminal trial – in which she had pleaded not guilty – Flack was also standing trial in front of the tabloids, with those on social media acting as the jury.
Touching tributes paid to Caroline have mentioned the unfair treatment from the press and the barrage of abuse from online trolls, urging people to be kinder on social media. A Change.org petition has been created, asking the government to launch an enquiry into the British Press, something that is being branded as Leveson 2, or #CarolinesLaw which has been trending on Twitter.
Close friend of Caroline’s and the current presenter of Love Island, Laura Whitmore also pleaded for people to be kinder in a touching opening link of her 5Live show this morning.
She said: ‘To the press, the newspapers who create clickbait who demonise and tear down success, we’ve had enough…you don’t have to tear someone down to feel good about yourself”
Maybe a second Leveson (the investigation into the British Media that took place after the phone-hacking scandal in 2011) is what is needed to hold the press accountable for their attacks against individuals. We all know Caroline Flack hasn’t been the only person subject to this combination of abuse from both the press and online trolls, Meghan Markle and Jameela Jamil are just to name a few. But what do we do as a society to stop this boycotting of individuals online?
It was only this month at the 92nd Academy Awards when Joaquin Phoenix called out Cancel Culture when receiving his Oscar for Best Actor in Joker.
He said: “I think that’s when we’re at our best – when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other for our past mistakes but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity.”
And that is the issue in deciding an individual’s guilty verdict before being given the full story. ‘Cancel Culture’ offers no room for redemption and dehumanises it’s victims.
Where is the justice in deciding if someone is cancelled? Whether Caroline Flack was found guilty or not, it was not society’s call to make. The online world is quick to dismiss individuals, but it is important to remember that there is always someone on the other side of the screen.
As Obama said in 2019, “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”
If you’re struggling and need to talk to someone, Samaritans are always there. Click here to find out how to contact them.