Lily is a well-being coach, speaker and journalist. You might have seen her videos from this Issue where she explains how cancel culture, as it is, doesn't always give much chance for people to be sorry for their mistakes. We were delighted to put your further questions to Lily and you can read her answers below.
Is it fair for people to cancel someone for just one mistake?
decisive_redcurrant, Michael Faraday School
Hi decisive_redcurrant and thanks for your great question. I personally don’t think it’s fair to cancel someone for just one mistake – we all make mistakes, it’s what makes us human! And above all, we all want to be allowed to make mistakes and be sorry for and be forgiven for them. That doesn’t mean you have to think/pretend that someone’s mistake is okay, you can still think it was very wrong and serious. It just means that they are allowed to make that mistake and learn and grow from it, rather than be cancelled altogether.
Do you think it is possible to stop cancel culture?
serious_night, New Horizons Children's Academy
Hey serious_night and thank you for this interesting question. I don’t think it is possible to stop cancel culture altogether, as there will always be people who like to operate with a mob mentality – i.e. people who like to gang up together on other people. But I would like to think that it’s possible to minimise the harm done with cancel culture, and hopefully make it so that most people don’t support it. And I think that will happen through more good conversations (and questions such as the one you’ve asked!).
Do you think some people should get punished less than other people for example famous people and if so why?
buzzing_grapefruit, New Horizons Children's Academy
Buzzing grapefruit adds:
I would just like to say something about what I think about cancel culture. I think cancelling culture is unfair; as Lily Silverton mentioned, people won’t really get to learn from their mistakes and to add onto that it’s just like sending a child to a corner every single time they are bad instead of telling them why it’s bad and giving them a chance.
Hi buzzing_grapefruit and thanks for your interesting question and for sharing your great thoughts on cancel culture – I love your example! My hope is that any ‘punishment’ is truly an opportunity for someone to learn and grow, rather than simply feeling like they’ve done something wrong and should be ashamed. But to answer your question, no, I believe everyone should be treated the same - regardless of whether or not they are famous. I think the way the media react to famous people - not allowing them any privacy and being very cruel in instances of cancel culture - is horrible. But equally, I don’t think someone should be given special "good" treatment just because they’re famous.
What makes you see cancel culture the way you do?
wondrous_orca, Cheam Common Junior Academy
Hi wondrous_orca and thank you for your question – it’s a very interesting one for me to answer as I’ve never really thought about it before… I see it this way as I believe that we learn best individually, and progress best as a society, through compassion and understanding. Through listening to other people’s views – even when we don’t agree with them! Cancel culture generally relies on fear and anger and I don’t think that’s healthy for anyone.
Is it ever appropriate to cancel someone instead of challenging them?
eager_reflection, Cheam Park Farm Primary
Hi eager_reflection and thank you for this great question. I think it depends on how you view cancelling someone – are you publicly humiliating someone anonymously on social media, or are you choosing - for your own mental health - to no longer be friends/interact with someone. I personally feel the two are very different. There’s a quote/saying that I love – "you can mute people in real life too – it’s called boundaries"– just like on your phone or computer, you can stop talking to someone if you need to. I like this idea that we can/should have more control over the kind of people we let into our lives. If someone is very negative or unpleasant then it may be the right move for you to cancel/cut them out. But in the interest of better understanding, challenging and being open to hearing different ideas and opinions is the best approach. If you can, I think it’s preferable to challenge/talk to someone first, but only if you feel your mental health will be okay with that.
Thank you to Lily Silverton for her brilliant answers to your questions. What have you learnt from reading them? Add your comments below!