In this podcast, Amadon DellErba talks about today’s Cancel Culture / Call-Out Culture and how we can build a more Accountable Culture. In addition to his own thoughts on the subject, Amadon cites Ligaya Mishan’s New York Times article: “The Long and Tortured History of Cancel Culture.”
Amadon discusses the importance of confrontation and accountability, and how immature it is to ostracize people on the fringes of society. He also looks at scapegoating and the lack of education, rehabilitation, and compassion in our broken society.
In many ways, we are going backwards in our evolution by banishing troublemakers from the tribe. When much of the time they need to be brought into the circle, and shown more love, and more attention to change their wrong thinking. So when you're sitting behind your keyboard there, and someone online says something you consider to be wrong and it goes against your beliefs or your morals, instead of rallying your keyboard warrior friends to expose and banish this person from existence, take the time to educate and carefront them, to change their perspective. You see, it's easy to be a little keyboard warrior, and sit behind that screen and attack people, and to judge people. It's hard to truly support love and encourage someone to change their wrong-thinking.
“Nothing You Do Matters Unless What You Do Matters”
I’m Amadon DellErba and this is “Get Real or Die Trying”
How we doin’ tribe? Welcome to 2021. Happy New Year. This is my first podcast of the new year, Episode 31. Today I'm talking about “Accountable Culture versus Cancel Culture”
You know, I wanted to talk about “cancel culture” or what some define as “call-out culture.” You know, I think “cancel culture” is a real problem right now in this country; really all over the world. It doesn't work to create a culture or an environment where individuals are terrified to speak their minds and opinions.
Now today, I just want to be clear, “cancel culture” and misrepresentation are actually two different subjects. Now, they’re related, but I'm going to focus on the actual cultural phenomenon of more recent times of what we call “cancel culture.” And for those of you who may not be aware, let me define what culture is for you.
“Cancel culture” or “call-out culture” is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles, either online, on social media, in the real world, or both. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be “canceled.”
“I'm going to cancel you.”
What's interesting is, that the major definitions of this modern phenomena talk about removing support from someone. Merriam-Webster states “to stop giving support or to that person.”
alldictionary.com, in its popular culture dictionary section, defines “cancel culture” as “withdrawing support for, canceling, public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”
The expression “canceled culture” has mostly negative connotations to me and it is commonly used in debates on free speech and censorship that you see online. So what exactly does a cancellation consist of? And how does it differ from the exercise of free speech and robust critical debate? At a conceptual level the difference is clear.
Criticism marshals evidence and arguments in a rational effort to persuade. Canceling, by contrast, seeks to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, de-platform, or intimidate ideological opponents. It is about shaping the information battlefield, not seeking truth and its intent, or at least it's predictable outcome, is to coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority. Ostracism is never a good thing, people. Flawed or not, (because we're flawed actually) if a person makes a mistake or says something stupid, wouldn't the highest form of correction be to support them, to see why their viewpoint is wrong, help them change and rehabilitate their perspective? But no. We just “cancel” them completely. It's like we have some silly illusion that we're a word on a screen that we can just select and highlight and then hit the delete button. And we feel like we made the world a better place all of a sudden, because we remove such an atrocious person from their power and influence. And this doesn't just happen to famous or recognized people. This happens to everybody in their small circles.
Whether it's a famous person, or any person who is attacked in their circles of influence, large or small, this happens. People get canceled in the workplace. It could just be 10 or 15 people. It's not a fair or just way of truly helping someone and that's really the main difference for me. Yes, people need to be held accountable and be confronted. And I did a podcast on this “Carefrontation vs. Confrontation.”
But to cancel someone completely is a totally immature and ineffective way of helping that soul change. In fact, we just create a culture of sheep and people afraid to speak their mind or voice their opinions because they're afraid of being canceled. So today everybody is a “yes man.” “Cancel culture” is actually a tool used by the power elite to maintain control. And it's brilliant because it's masked under the guise that it's the people collectively rising up and canceling somebody, which in some case, it is. The mob mentality kicks in. But you’ve got to ask yourself, “who allows the message to spread?” The power, in control of the media, that's who allows it. They let people get canceled and their lives ruined from their ivory towers. Believe me, if they don't want someone canceled, they can stop that process. And if they do, they can allow it. These people are often pawns.
You got to look at it this way. And for some of the older people who are not on social media, not online as much, not involved in the fast paced cyber culture, they may not realize how this takes place so much in the world, but public figures, actors, writers, authors, people who have TV shows and as well as people who aren't famous can very quickly have the reputation have their whole life changed through this “cancel culture” process. And it's really not just, and what I'm getting at here is the spiritual perspective of holding someone accountable versus canceling them. We need to have a culture of accountability, which is a very different process than having a culture of canceling somebody.
An article by a “New York Times” author Ligaya Mishan goes into this more and I suggest you read it, but the title alone says a lot. This article is on the “New York Times” website. You can check it out, but the title is called: “The Long and Tortured History of Cancel Culture; the public shaming of those deemed moral transgressors has been around for ages. As practiced today, though, is the custom a radical form of citizen justice or merely a handmaiden to capitalism?” Check it out online.
So let's talk about ostracism some more because that's basically what “cancel culture” is, it’s ostracism. Ostracism was a procedure under Athenian democracy back in the day. Which any citizen could be expelled from the city state of Athens for 10 years. While some instances clearly express popular anger at the citizen, Ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or a potential tyrant. The word ostracism continues to be used for various cases of social-shunning to this day.
Preemptive silencing of what some consider radical thought. You know, this has happened to activists and change agents for centuries. The powers that be get them quick before they have a chance to take off, it's preemptive. So modern day “cancel culture” contributes to the polarization of American society, I feel. It's just a separation. It keeps adding to the lines of division and it does not lead to changes in opinion or heart, and does not bring about change in people. It causes division. In fact, it stifles progressive, alternative, and spiritually radical thoughts. It stifles conversations. You can't even go into a cafe today and have a conversation with people and express yourself and your opinions. I mean, you practically have to tiptoe around and be careful what you say to everybody. Everybody gets offended so easily. I mean, honestly, you can talk about not liking a color and it offends somebody and they'll cancel you because the proponents for the color of yellow will form a coalition against you. I mean it's absolutely absurd. The problem with this is that the “call-out culture’s” prevalence makes marginalized groups feel even more hesitant to speak out for what they feel is right. So minorities and alternative thinkers are silenced even more now by the mob of sheeple. You see public opinion is so brutal. And if you're an outspoken person, it's so hard to be heard.
According to Lisa Nakamura from the University of Michigan, a professor of media studies, she says that canceling someone is “a form of cultural boycott” and that the “cancel culture” is “the ultimate expression of agency, which is born of a desire for control, as people have limited power over what is presented to them on social media, and a need for accountability, which is not centralized.”
You see, people who have very little power and control of their physical reality around them in their real life, and the circumstances that they're dealing with. So they'd like to think that they can have some type of power and control online by canceling somebody by commenting, you know modern day people call them the online internet trolls. Lot of it has to do with this psychology of power and areas they think they have power. And the only little area they have power is to attack people from behind their keyboard. This relates to misrepresentation, but again, it's a different subject, which we'll probably do a podcast on in the future too.
You know, there are cultural connections, in my opinion, to the concept of the media using public figures as their scapegoat. I was thinking about this last night how, it's interesting, and I did some research on the history of the word scapegoat. Like where did that come from? You know, historically this is a term that came about because in the book of Leviticus, it talks about the fact that a goat was bestowed to high priests as a symbol of the sins of man, and that high priests would then sacrifice that goat to the Gods to save man from their sins. And so the goat itself, essentially it was saving man and would be sacrificed and that's the scapegoat. So a question we must ask ourselves in modern day reality is are we sacrificing people to the inferno of the media? And are the masses, (that are asses) are we sacrificing them to their public opinion?
Back to the “New York Times'', author Ligaya Mishan, because she touches on this actually, she says, “The modern scapegoat performs an equivalent function, uniting otherwise squabbling groups in enmity against a supposed transgressor who relieves, in the condemners of the burden of wrestling with their own wrongs. No longer is it acknowledged, however, tacitly or subconsciously, that the scapegoat, whether guilty or not of a particular offense, is ultimately a mere stand-in for the true culprits responsible for a society gone askew, ourselves and the system we’re complicit in. Instead, the scapegoat is demonized, forced to bear and incarnate everyone’s guilt, on top of their own.”
You see this happen all the time in modern day media and culture. Companies extinguish their CEOs. There's the fallout. There's the scapegoats. Instead of true change and accountability happening, they always find a scapegoat and they cancel that person's life. This is wrong for two reasons. It's not fair to the person they're canceling and it's not fair to the process, the due justice process of change that does need to take place. See nothing changes when you just find a scapegoat and cancel them. The process of actually rehabilitating the people involved and the wrong thinking in the wrongdoing never happens.
To make my point further about this and the historic origins of modern day actions and how they affect now from history, I'd like to read a quote from The URANTIA Book that stands out to me.
“All modern social institutions arise from the evolution of the primitive customs of your savage ancestors; the conventions of today are the modified and expanded customs of yesterday. What habit is to the individual, custom is to the group; and group customs develop into folkways or tribal traditions—mass conventions. From these early beginnings all of the institutions of present-day human society take their humble origin.”
Further on in The URANTIA Book, from Paper 68, it says,
“Vanity contributed mightily to the birth of society; but at the time of these revelations the devious strivings of a vainglorious generation threaten to swamp and submerge the whole complicated structure of a highly specialized civilization. Pleasure-want has long since superseded hunger-want; the legitimate social aims of self-maintenance are rapidly translating themselves into base and threatening forms of self-gratification. Self-maintenance builds society; unbridled self-gratification unfailingly destroys civilization.”
Wow. Let me just read that last part one more time. “...Unbridled self-gratification unfailingly destroys civilization.”
How can we improve the tangible and modern concept of “cancel culture?” Well, critical multiculturalism professor Anita Bright proposed “calling in rather than calling out.” I like that. In order to bring forward the former’s idea of accountability, but in a more humane, humble, and bridge-building light. Also clinical counselor Anna Richards, who specializes in conflict mediation says that, “learning to analyze our own motivations when offering criticism helps call out culture work productively.” It's an important fact that what are our motives when we call out somebody? Do we truly care about their well-being or are we just trying to impose an ego trip?
So let's replace “cancel culture” with “accountability culture,” “accountable culture.” You see, we are alive on this world in various cultures, and we may be subject, whether we realize it or not, to the culture and the external environment we find ourselves in. So someone who grows up in an inner city is going to have a very different viewpoint than someone who grew up on a rural sheep farm in the country. The gap of our cultural and social differences can easily be bridged by collective consciousness and embracing higher spiritual values and beliefs.
Connection to our Creator really does bridge all voids and that's an absolute. You see, I live in a subculture, a fully thriving community of 100 people in a micro society that functions, truly functions, on spiritual standards and laws. So instead of being canceled from my mistakes, I am held accountable and supported to change them. My spiritual elders, Gabriel of Urantia and Niánn Emerson Chase, who happen to be my parents, have created many systems to help with that process here. The University of Ascension Science & the Physics of Rebellion is that place where I live. You should check it out, uaspr.org.
But they've created processes for conflict resolution and carefronting people. And that process and those systems are very important. My spiritual teachers have created very effective and compassionate methods of assisting us, you know, in assisting people, in their personality- and soul-growth. We as human beings must come into a much higher place of compassion. And I really think that compassion is a key element here that's missing from “cancel culture” because I know that compassion works, because I live in a compassionate subculture. But the world and the culture at-large is not a compassionate place. It really it’s brutal.
So how do you change this where you are? Well, you begin by analyzing your life and your daily decisions, and you remove the actions that make you complicit to a culture that is not compassionate. You do not participate in the mindlessness of the mob mentality of social media. So the key takeaways that we must understand and practice the difference of accountability versus ostracizing somebody.
In many ways, we are going backwards in our evolution by banishing troublemakers from the tribe. When much of the time they need to be brought into the circle, and shown more love, and more attention to change their wrong thinking. So when you're sitting behind your keyboard there, and someone online says something you consider to be wrong and it goes against your beliefs or your morals, instead of rallying your keyboard warrior friends to expose and banish this person from existence, take the time to educate and carefront them, to change their perspective. You see, it's easy to be a little keyboard warrior, and sit behind that screen and attack people, and to judge people. It's hard to truly support love and encourage someone to change their wrong-thinking. And so we live in a world now that is just full of people attacking people. Like I said, you can't say anything, you can't express an opinion. The “cancel culture” is so strong, it's so dominant that if you say anything that goes against mainstream “sheeple” consciousness, everyone's going to come against you.
Like I said earlier in my podcast, the reason this is a problem is that it totally creates a culture of fear and “sheeple” and “yes men” and people who are afraid of speaking up and saying the truth, and speaking their mind. It's okay to have a difference of opinion. It's okay to have different political and spiritual views. That's why this country is supposed to be great; free speech. It's not okay to come against people for their different opinions, their different political views, their different spiritual views. It's not okay to cancel them. It is okay to hold someone accountable for the wrong moral actions, which does happen all the time.
So how do we raise our children? How do we live our lives? And how do we create a “Culture of Accountability” versus a “Cancel Culture?” It's a question that we all need to ask ourselves and we need to start practicing, and changing in our daily habits, in our social media, in our commenting, in our calling, in our conversations. We need to allow people the liberty to make mistakes and then help them see that and grow. We all make mistakes. We all say stupid things. If we are canceled every time we said something stupid or made a stupid mistake, we wouldn't exist. So we need to get away from the savage and primal way of doing things, and banishing people out of existence because they made mistakes.
Bring them in, help them change, educate them, show some love and compassion, approach it from a higher spiritual perspective, instead of being so quick to be a false keyboard warrior and cancel them. That's my message. Thanks for listening. Go forth. Be strong. Be good.
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