Priscilla Song is currently a junior at Tenafly High School. She is the Junior Reporter of Mom & I Magazine and the Managing Editor of her school’s newspaper. She enjoys painting, writing for her school newspaper, volunteering, napping, and spending time with her friends and family. Her favorite hobby is travelling with her family and making videos of their trips. Priscilla is also a big K-Pop fan, and her favorite groups are IZ*ONE, NCT, and BLACKPINK. Although she is not completely certain of her career path, she hopes to pursue in the media or communications field in her future.
As justice for racial groups has taken a rise in today’s culture, the use of social media has changed the ways that activists do their part and how their opinions are voiced. The murder of George Floyd has taken over the news, and particular media has been used both against and for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
To start, the grounds on which the movement is characterized by a hashtag just summarizes the importance of media on racial justice and social issues. Especially during this time where almost everyone is online because of COVID-19 affecting the public’s ability to go to work and be outside, the news is accessible to any person in any age group. The video of the murder was able to gain such momentum with the public because of the use of hashtags and online shares. If this same event were to happen just 20 years ago when Instagram and Facebook weren’t invented, the abuse would only be seen from newspapers. The strength of movements such as #BLM is intensified from the rapid spread of how information on the internet is shared.
However, the fast-paced media also means that false news has the ability to be spread rapidly. Once anything is posted on Instagram or Twitter, it is out for the world to see. Internet footprints are hard to be erased, due to screenshots and screen recordings. People who are against certain organizations are then given advantages to spread fabricated evidence and fake news. Many people, myself included, are quick to believe anything they see on social media apps, whether it is posted on someone’s Instagram story or a Snapchat headline. Regardless of how easy it may be to take a follower’s word as truth, we should all get into the habit of fact checking everything, as a simple typo in an article or fabricated pictures can make or break someone’s career. This generation is big on “cancel culture”, which is a method of online shaming. The term is often used in situations of exposing an individual who has either shared a controversial opinion or been caught committing offensive behaviors in the past. It’s usually a celebrity or influencer that gets exposed in these online humiliations, as past actions and opinions are easily discovered by the public. This “cancel culture” is what well-known figures have to fear, as one mistake or slip of the mouth can cost their entire career. Once an individual is exposed for a wrongdoing or tendentious opinion, news is spread fast, and before they even wake up to see their denunciation online, they could already have lost thousands of followers, friends, and even career opportunities. For celebrities exposed, they could lose brand deals and the supporters to continue their career as public figures. For just a regular member of the public, their wrongdoings can be exposed to future colleges and workplaces. Once word is out on the internet, it’s on there and the individual’s record forever.
Consequently, I don’t believe that cancel culture should still be a relevant activity people take part in. Everyone makes mistakes and “cancelling” someone isn’t going to make them learn from their mistakes. Instead, it just normalizes shaming people for not knowing better and taking down their careers without educating them. Just like criminals, people who make mistakes should be punished for their wrongdoings, but also with the intent of educating and informing them on why their views or past actions are not ethical. As humans, we should all leave room for improvement in our lives, and give others that edge too. That being said, this generation is fearless and bold, standing up for what it believes in and not afraid to speak its minds. I am proud to be a part of it, but it also has room to improve its views on educating others with mistakes, as we are all humans who aren’t perfect.