I have an obsession with words, and the way people use words. When I was a younger man, and would hear someone use a word I didn't know, it was normally because they had a larger vocabulary than my own. Now when I hear someone use a word I don't know, I often find out that the word is just millennial slang. I've written about very "young" or repurposed words that I think we need to stop using, but mainly that was bred from me being irritated by stupid things teenagers say now.
Recently, I have seen the term "cancelled" being repurposed in an extremely worrying way. If you go on Twitter and search the word "cancelled", you'll find many angry tweets condemning certain people by "cancelling" them.
For example, here are a few tweets I just found:
"Cardi B is transphobic, if you stan her you're cancelled" -@pertiina
"If you're black and still support Donald Trump, you are forever cancelled" -@alejandro_dn98
"public transport is cancelled" -@moefiasco
Along with those tweets, I found a whole thread entitled "Why Selena Gomez is Cancelled" on a page belonging to @pocwomanist.
On the surface, the term "cancelled" being repurposed in this way doesn't look so bad. "Cancelling" Selena Gomez basically means "I will no longer endorse the things Selena Gomez does". What makes this term so worrying though is the vehemency behind the new usage of "cancelled", and the traditional definition too.
The traditional definition of "cancelled" is: no longer planned or scheduled; invalidated; removed. This definition is what makes the new usage of the word "cancelled" so terrifying. By saying that someone is "cancelled", you are now saying that they no longer matter and what happens to them should no longer matter. That sounds an awful lot like how genocides start.
I might sound crazy in my worries about people being "cancelled", but the way in which it is being used is putting a mark on the people being "cancelled". Also, the scarier thing is that the vast majority of people you will find using the term "cancelled" in this way are millennial "progressives". I'm not saying it's scary strictly because of that group; it's terrifying that any group is using a term that is negating the validity of another human life.
History has shown us that when a small group of hive-mind members rally behind words that basically remove the humanity of certain people, only bad things will come of it. "Cancelling" people or groups go completely opposite from values that Americans hold dear. I don't agree with all of my friends on their political views, ideas, or life choices, but I would never "cancel" them because they did something I don't like.
To me, identifying someone as "cancelled" mean they are nothing to you in your own mind; they're as good as dead.
The only next logical step from someone being deemed "cancelled" by a group is for them to actually receive physical or mental harm from that same group. "Cancelling" someone is akin to putting them on a faux hit-list.
Even more than that, "cancelling" someone is just such a childish ideal to hold. If someone says or does something that you don't like and your first thought is to forever invalidate them in your own mind, then you are a screaming, crying, childish brat.
Let's learn to get back to a time when we could love each other despite our differences. Let us look at someone doing something we don't like and handle it like adults, not like a petulant toddler. Please, let's cancel "cancelled".