Lessons from the unlikeliest places
This guest blog post was written by one of our interns, Esme (and only slightly edited by our writing crew.)
So, you’ve been canceled on social media? Cancel culture is where an individual is tossed out of their social and professional ties due to the individual expressing themselves in a way that is socially unacceptable. The world has seen many influential individuals get canceled in the last few years. For instance, Camila Cabello. Camila had an old Tumblr account and evidence of her resurfaced. Eminem has also been canceled among the Gen Z generation due to his song “Love the Way You Lie.” Ellen DeGeneres was canceled after several allegations that she fostered a toxic workplace. Hilaria Baldwin was canceled after she was accused of pretending to be of Spanish descent.
If cancel culture teaches us anything, it’s the phrase “what you say online stays online forever.” Our words on social media can have a deep impact on how the world perceives us, up to the point where it may cost you your reputation. Before sharing any content online, ask yourself, “would you like your grandmother, teacher, or the rest of the world to see this?”
In June of 2020, I was canceled. I am guilty of being involved in a group chat where socially unacceptable memes and jokes were being exchanged. We made racist and sexist jokes. Everyone in the chat understood that the content was not appropriate but we never knew our private messages would be exposed to the rest of the world. We all were aware that our messages were only just jokes, however, that is not what the rest of the world was perceiving when it was sent out in that context.
Due to my mistake of not thinking before sending something, I hurt a lot of people in my community with our insensitive jokes. As a result, I lost my full-ride scholarship, I was terminated from my internship and I lost people I cared about. My story was in the newspaper and nothing said about me was positive. The consequences of sending those callous messages are long-lasting and will follow me forever. The screenshots haunted me when I went to look for a new job, internship and scholarship. It’s the first search that comes up when you type my name into google. So please, think twice before sharing and sending any type of message online.
As someone, who has been canceled, writing this, I am here to tell you that although it may feel like it, it is not the end of the world. If you are in the process of being canceled, the first step is accountability. In order to start the process of repentance, you have to begin by taking responsibility for your actions and admit your errors no matter how hard it may be. There will be consequences that follow your actions. My biggest advice is to own up to your mistakes. Be honest and open about what happened. Make sure you are doing something to repair the damages. We cannot take words back but we can do something to become a better version of ourselves. Some of us tend to beat ourselves when we make serious mistakes, but we must learn to forgive and give ourselves the permission to move forward and make things right.
I advise a complete social media reset. A social media reset is a period of time where you limit or completely eliminate your time on social media. This provides you with the opportunity to step back and reflect/re-evaluate your life, values and what truly matters. This is a time to ground yourself and connect with the people around you in person.
The steps to reset:
- Remove the inappropriate content from your accounts and replace it with a heartfelt apology, owning up to what you did.
- Reach out to those to who you may need to apologize… Understand that not everyone will forgive you.
- Look for actions to demonstrate that you are truly sorry. This may take some digging but it has to come from within you. Focus on your education. How can you educate yourself to do better?
Smart Gen Society (SGS) is a great resource to utilize when social media issues arise. SGS helped me rebuild my social media presence in a smarter way. I have become very selective in regard to my friendships and privacy. Additionally, I had the opportunity to share my experiences. It is one thing to advise smart social media usage and it’s another thing to learn the hard way.