In today's digital age, it has become all too easy to cancel individuals or organizations for their perceived wrongdoings. Within minutes, a wave of public condemnation can drastically alter someone's life, both in the present and for years to come. The permanence of online messages allows past actions to define individuals indefinitely without considering the possibility of growth, maturity, or learning. Instead of relying on cancel culture as a means of quick retribution, we should shift our focus towards a more constructive approach: revision culture. This alternative perspective offers genuine opportunities for people to evolve and for organizations to reform, fostering authentic change and personal growth.
Cancel culture, at its core, is about punishment. It seeks to deliver retribution for behaviors or statements that fail to meet societal standards. While this consequence may be warranted for those who show no remorse or acknowledgement of their actions' negative effects, it raises questions about individuals who genuinely express remorse. Take, for example, the case of Alexi McCammond, who, despite apologizing and deleting homophobic and racist tweets from her teenage years, was canceled from her position as editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue. In such instances, it becomes crucial to examine who is truly being held accountable: the 17-year-old who made regrettable comments, or the 27-year-old woman who has already expressed remorse on multiple occasions.
If cancel culture is not primarily about punishment, then is it about education? Does it provide space for individuals to learn from their mistakes and grow? Regrettably, ostracizing someone does not create an opportunity for education. Let's consider the case of the 13-year-old lacrosse player mentioned earlier. By canceling her and her entire family, society limits her chances to learn from her ignorance. She becomes isolated, losing valuable connections that could have facilitated positive development. This is where cancel culture reveals its laziness.
Enter revision culture, a paradigm shift that empowers society to transform toxic opinions and perspectives. Instead of canceling individuals, we can use these moments as catalysts for change. In the case of Alexi McCammond, she could have worked with national organizations to turn her publication into a platform for combating homophobia and racism. As for the lacrosse player, she could be connected with local Black leaders to engage in one-on-one conversations. Requiring her to volunteer with organizations supporting BIPOC youth and share her learning experiences with a panel of school administrators and local leaders could pave the way for her potential reinstatement on the team and in her school.
Admittedly, adopting a revision culture requires more effort, but it holds the promise of creating lasting change. Instead of fostering covert racism by forcing people to hide their prejudices, this approach encourages individuals to confront their own biases and potentially transform them. It avoids leaving people adrift without positive outlets, which could inadvertently nurture racism within certain social groups. By promoting dialogue, understanding, and growth, revision culture strives to bridge divides rather than exacerbate them.
Organizations have a crucial role in fostering a revision culture. There are a couple of key steps that can help establish this transformative approach.
Developing clear protocols is vital for organizations when addressing accusations of inappropriate behavior. Thorough investigations should be conducted before resorting to cancel culture. These protocols should specify how the organization will handle different situations, considering the severity of the behavior and the individual's level of remorse. Some cases may require immediate removal from the organization, while others may provide opportunities for rehabilitation. By establishing these protocols in advance, organizations can prevent impulsive actions and ensure a thoughtful and equitable response.
Creating genuine connections within networks and communities is essential for organizations embracing revision culture. Leaders should foster dialogue and interactions with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultivating an organizational culture that values learning from others. By building these connections, organizations gain valuable resources for change when toxic situations arise, promoting growth and understanding.