The idea that people too often pile onto others for bad behaviour, emerged only in the past few years but has become a ubiquitous phrase among English speakers.

Within the past several years, the idea that a person can be “canceled” — in other words, culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform or career — has become a polarising topic of debate. The rise of “cancel culture” and the idea of canceling someone coincides with a familiar pattern: A celebrity or another public figure does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fuelled by politically progressive social media, ensues. Then come the calls to cancel the person — that is, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer.

These are just a few of the answers that you will get to a simple question — What is this cancel culture thing, anyway?

  • Cancellation, properly understood, refers to an attack on someone’s employment and reputation by a determined collective of critics, based on an opinion or an action that is alleged to be disgraceful and disqualifying.
  • All cultures cancel; the question is for what, how widely, and through what means.
  • Cancellation is not exactly about free speech, but a liberal society should theoretically cancel less frequently than its rivals.
  • The internet has changed the way we cancel and extended cancellation’s reach.
  • The internet has also made it harder to figure out whether speech is getting freer or less free.
  • Celebrities are the easiest people to target, but the hardest people to cancel.
  • Cancel culture is most effective against people who are still rising in their fields, and it influences many people who do not actually get canceled.
  • The right and the left both cancel; it is just that today’s right is too weak to do it effectively.
  • The heat of the cancel-culture debate reflects the intersection of the internet as a medium for cancellation with the increasing power of left-wing moral norms as a justification for cancellation.

What is Culture and Why Does it Matter

Culture is our lifestyle. It incorporates our qualities, convictions, traditions, dialects, and customs. Culture is reflected in our history, in our legacy and by the way we express thoughts and imagination. Through our culture we develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth, and the ability to empathize and relate to each other. Direct benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self-esteem, skills development, social capital, and economic return.

Culture is our way of life. It includes our values, beliefs, customs, languages, and traditions. Culture is reflected in our history, in our heritage, and in how we express ideas and creativity. Our culture measures our quality of life, our vitality, and the health of our society. Through our culture, we develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth, and the ability to empathize and relate to each other. Direct benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self-esteem, skills development, social capital, and economic return.

Culture in our Everyday Lives

Whether you attend a free concert in the park, visit a museum, attend a school play, or sing in a choir, culture is present in many aspects of our daily lives. Culture is a key part of wellness and learning and can play a role in healing and social development.

The Arts

Artists and arts organisations are central to the creation of works of art, cultural events and festivals, products, and industries. Authors, theatre companies, dancers, musicians, film makers, businesses or teachers, artists and arts organisations are at the heart of many of the cultural creations that we enjoy.

Our Collective Heritage

Our historic and contemporary buildings, museums, monuments, libraries, burial sites and sacred places, archaeology, artefacts, and archives are all critical aspects in our culture and our heritage. Our living heritage – our traditions, customs, and practices – along with our natural heritage, add to the legacy of our ancestors that are part of the identity and cultural life that we share.

Culture and the Economy

Creative industries and enterprises are extremely significant aspects of our provincial and national economy. Wealth is generated by cultural workers, small businesses, sole proprietors, non-profit organisations, media and marketing companies, and cultural tourism industries. The creative economy relies on skilled cultural workers to create new ideas, enterprises, and industries. It also helps attract new immigrants and helps retain our present citizens.

Why is understanding culture important if we are community builders?

To build communities that are powerful enough to attain significant change, we need large numbers of people working together.

If cultural groups join forces, they will be more effective in reaching common goals, then if each group operates in isolation.

Each cultural group has unique strengths and perspectives that the larger community can benefit from.

We need a wide range of ideas, customs, and wisdom to solve problems and enrich community life. Bringing non-mainstream groups into the centre of civic activity can provide fresh perspectives and shed new light on tough problems.

Understanding cultures will help us overcome and prevent racial and ethnic divisions.

Racial and ethnic divisions result in misunderstandings, loss of opportunities, and sometimes violence. Racial and ethnic conflicts drain communities of financial and human resources; they distract cultural groups from resolving the key issues they have in common.

People from different cultures must be included in decision-making processes for programs or policies to be effective.

The people affected by a decision must be involved in formulating solutions–it’s a basic democratic principle. Without the input and support of all the groups involved, decision-making, implementation, and follow through are much less likely to occur.

An appreciation of cultural diversity goes together with a just and equitable society.

For example, research has shown that when students’ cultures are
understood and appreciated by teachers, the students do better in school. Students feel more accepted, they feel part of the school community, they work harder to achieve, and they are more successful in school.

If we do not learn about the influences that cultural groups have had on our mainstream history and culture, we are all missing out on an accurate view of our society and our communities.