“Perhaps, like me, you inwardly sigh with the breath of a thousand winds whenever you hear the words cancel culture, as mangled and distorted as the expression has become.” Yes…yes, I do inwardly sigh, Sophie Gilbert, and audibly, as well!
Sophie is a staff writer, who covers culture for The Atlantic, and who recently reviewed "THE CHAIR" on Netflix. Starring Sandra Oh, the near-perfect show elegantly skewers the subject of free speech on campus, but can just as easily translate into the workplace or any place for that matter.
While the label, cancel culture, seems to have relatively recently taken hold in the nation’s psyche, acts of social rejection like ostracism, boycotting, shunning, shaming, blacklisting, to name a few, have been around for centuries.
Americans and ‘Cancel Culture’: Where Some See Calls for Accountability, Others See Censorship, Punishment, reads the title of a feature on the Pew Research Center website.
People have challenged each other’s views for much of human history. But the internet – particularly social media – has changed how, when, and where these kinds of interactions occur.
And we in the hospitality industry have a fairly large target on our backs!
Last year around this time, travel shaming was so prevalent, that the New York Times did a piece titled, “Shh, We’re Heading Off On Vacation,” because so many people were afraid of being judged and tried in the court of public opinion for traveling during a pandemic.
During the recession of 2008, “Resort” became a dirty word due to the seemingly frivolous acts of a handful of businesses. Corporate travel for conferences and recognition events grew to a screeching halt in order to shame and punish the perceived offenders. As a result, hundreds of thousands of hospitality jobs were lost; and millions of dollars were spent in rebranding for optics sake, just so hotels could stay afloat.
The political climate in this country and around the world has only served to fuel this cancel culture mentality. Geez, I remember when, even if the candidate from the party you voted for didn’t get elected, there was still a sense that the best interest of the country was being served. Somewhere along the way, and I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, all that changed. It ceased to be about the greater good and became about disgracing and discrediting the party in office in order to tee up a win for the opposition in 4 years. WTF!
It’s like "we the people" are being canceled.
So, while we still enjoy freedom of speech, we owe it to each other to understand that our words do have power. Canceling is a dead-end…challenging can make all the difference in the world!