It might seem like a term out of the 90's cult movie hit, Hackers, but 'cancel culture' is really nothing new.

'Cancel culture' is the collective term for a phenomenon whereby an individual, or an organisation even, is said to be 'cancelled' because of something silly that they may have done or have posted online, or something that others find distasteful.

You can think of how the world reacts to celebrities like Michael Jackson or Louis CK or Woolworths etc etc. when they do something we don't like.

We threaten to boycott buying our almond milk for the next three months from that brand - or vow to never listen to that person's music ever again.

The idea behind cancel culture is that if you cancel the attention that is paid to somebody online - you kill their ability to make money, or exist even.

It's a form of modern public shaming - like what a public flogging or burning people at the stake used to be a long time ago; but unlike those historical examples - you can easily 'cancel' somebody from the comfort of your own home, or while standing in the queue at Woolies.

Nick Cave

When asked what he thought of cancel culture - rocker Nick Cave posted an insightful piece on his blog, which really does sum up the underlying collective emotion that facilitates such brutality within groups.

'Mercy is a value that should be at the heart of any functioning and tolerant society. Mercy ultimately acknowledges that we are all imperfect and in doing so allows us the oxygen to breathe — to feel protected within a society, through our mutual fallibility. Without mercy a society loses its soul, and devours itself.'
'Mercy allows us the ability to engage openly in free-ranging conversation — an expansion of collective discovery toward a common good. If mercy is our guide we have a safety net of mutual consideration, and we can, to quote Oscar Wilde, “play gracefully with ideas.”'
Nick Cave - The Red Hand Files - Issue #109 - What is mercy for you?
What do you think of cancel culture? FRANCES, LOS ANGELES, USA Dear Valerio and Frances, Mercy is a value that should be at the heart of any functioning and tolerant society. Mercy ultimately acknowledges that we are all imperfect and in doing so allows us the oxygen to breathe

I guess you can only be merciful towards others if you see those others as an important part of your community.

Whether it's a gaping generation gap, different political viewpoints, gender bias - there really does appear to be a lot these days that divides us.

As much as technology has brought us all seemingly together, it has also amplified our ability to clearly define who it is that we see as apart from us.

As this piece in the New York Times illustrates - cancel culture is a modern demonstration of power - and could actually be driving proper, freedom of expression off of social media and the Internet in general.

Read more:

Why ‘Cancel Culture’ Is a Distraction
A reporter’s last thoughts before putting the phrase to rest.
Prominent public figures fear ‘cancel culture’ is killing freedom of speech
Say the right thing when you speak now, or forever hold your peace: that’s one view of a new front in the ‘cancel culture’ wars
'Cancel culture’s refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas has an asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society. Compassion is the primary experience — the heart event — out of which emerges the genius and generosity of the imagination. Creativity is an act of love that can knock up against our most foundational beliefs, and in doing so brings forth fresh ways of seeing the world. This is both the function and glory of art and ideas. A force that finds its meaning in the cancellation of these difficult ideas hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.
But this is where we are. We are a culture in transition, and it may be that we are heading toward a more equal society — I don’t know — but what essential values will we forfeit in the process?
Love, Nick' - via