Cancel Culture Talk

Event overview

On 20th December 2021, SACAC hosted a seminar on Cancel Culture. Students from ADPR and Photography department took part with great enthusiasm to learn more about this phenomenon, which is pervading every social circle and political and economic sectors in our everyday life. Sudarshan Rodriguez (CEO and Founder of RTL works) and Ariba Zaidi (Asst. Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Hussain College, Delhi) were the guest speakers of this event. They shared their insights on the cancel culture movement and addressed students’ questions in the latter half of the event.

Ariba Zaidi kicked off the discourse by giving a basic understanding of the topic. She mentioned how the cancel culture is an alternative to physical protests. At its core, it remains an expression of dissent, a blazing flame that social media has fanned by structurally organising these voices into echo chambers. However, this way of expression usually borders on intolerance; it reflects on how the idea of freedom is misinterpreted as the absence of any boundary and social responsibility. It is not to suggest that every form of dissent holds solely negative connotations since it will always be one of the critical elements for the ascent of any society. However, this particular way of contention in play is under scrutiny. However, to counter this menace in making it is highly required to promote a society of constructive discussions. To paraphrase Professor Zaidi - "Exchange of strong views should be there for sure, but you must do it under the light of introspection."

Going for a more historical context-based analytical approach, Sudarshan Rodriguez shed light on the origin of Cancel Culture, as he mentioned how the introduction of Web 2.0 in 2006 forever changed the way opinions are formed. It increased the value of every individual statement, as every personal social media account became a form of media unto itself. People began to raise their voices collectively against social injustices and other issues. Nevertheless, its empowering factors are being overshadowed by the disempowering ones. People are being trolled, harassed and a whole array of mental health imbalance is at play because of such incidents. He believes that we as a society have grown impatient and intolerant of any opposing views, with social media actively acting as a catalyst to intensify this whole process. What needs to be done is to become more self-regulatory, but this will not happen until we become self-aware. To make such a radical shift reality in society, as engaged and connected as ours, every individual has a moral obligation to challenge their views by reflecting on them and contrasting them with those in opposition to arrive at the optimum and most constructive conclusion.

The discussion was followed by QnA session with students and commenced with students and brought to light a number of politically salient misunderstandings about the roots of the cancel culture debate. Ultimately the exchanges that unfolded between speakers and the students led to incredible insight about the topic and the term “cancel culture” itself.

Written by Shubham Bhadala and Sausthab Purkait