It’s no secret that cancel culture is prevalent in today’s society. Now, the debate that has arisen around cancel culture is the difference between holding people accountable for their actions and bullying them.
Unfortunately, many of these incidents lead to people being bullied off social media from the Twitter mob. One of the most recent victims was Nurse Holly, who deleted her TikTok account after the cancel culture mob attacked her.
The controversy began in January when TikTok user Nurse Holly posted a video promoting abstinence. The video claims that abstinence is the best method of preventing STDs. Many criticized Holly for sending this message to her 1.7 million followers. Some critiques were constructive, while others were absolutely vicious.
Holly issued a public apology to Buzzfeed News, and apologized for “any offense that was taken" as she "only wish[es] to promote positivity and healthy lifestyles." She took the video down after the backlash, but the video was still circulating around Twitter. This created a hate mob that tried to “cancel” Holly and bullied her to the point where she deleted her TikTok account. This wasn't holding people accountable for saying something wrong or giving constructive criticism. This is cancel culture at its worst.
The Toxicity of Cancel Culture
The most popular tweet criticizing Holly’s TikTok says, ‘if i go to get tested and the nurse tell me i should have waited till marriage SOMEONE is getting knocked tf out.”
The problem with this tweet is that Holly didn’t tell a patient getting tested for STDs that she should have waited for marriage — she just posted a TikTok suggesting that abstinence is the best way to prevent STDs, which is true. Other Twitter uses followed, some providing constructive criticism (which is fine), but many were also quick to jump on the hate train.
There’s a mob mentality in cancel culture, especially on Twitter. Twitter users think with their emotions before thinking about the consequences of their tweets. Some accused Holly of “shaming” others, even though she wasn’t shaming anyone in her original post. Others accused Holly of victim shaming because many young women contract STDs as a result of sexual abuse and rape. But Holly didn’t shame anyone in her original post. She just posted a fun TikTok.
Holly deleted her TikTok account after the bullying became too much. As Rob Henderson of Psychology Today writes, “Cancel culture reduces the social status of enemies. Plainly, if there is an activity that will elevate the status of oneself or one’s group, people will do it. One approach to elevation is to do something good. But doing something good requires effort and the possibility of failure.”
Cancel culture reduces the social status of enemies. Plainly, if there is an activity that will elevate the status of oneself or one’s group, people will do it.
Henderson continues, “Fortunately, another option exists: Broadcasting the bad behavior of others. This method works because social status is relative. One person losing social rank is the same as another gaining it. If you’re a 6 on the social-status ladder, working up to a 9 is hard. But scheming to bring a 9 down to a 3 is easier and more thrilling. It is much easier to unite people around bringing a 9 down to a 3 than to lift themselves up from a 6 to a 9.”
If this isn’t proof that cancel culture is nothing but bullying disguised as the desire to want to be righteous, I don’t know what is. Cancel culture isn't really about holding others accountable, it's about people trying to find power by tearing down and bullying those around them.
What about Accountability?
Many supporters of cancel culture say it’s just about holding people accountable. Renee Graham of the Boston Globe writes, “So much for ‘cancel culture,’ which generally means boycotting or ghosting someone who has said or done something racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, or otherwise deeply objectionable. When such people face repercussions, they’re the first to decry a world overrun by humorless, unforgiving, politically correct snowflakes on yet another witch hunt.”
The problem is when a mob of Twitter users bullies someone by taking their words out of context and demands that they be “canceled.”
Here's the thing: there’s a massive difference between holding truly horrible people like Harvey Weinstein accountable for their actions, and bullying a nurse off TikTok for making a post some thought was harmful. As I said before, there is nothing wrong with giving constructive criticism. The problem is when a mob of Twitter users bullies someone by taking their words out of context and demands that they be “canceled.” Those who participate in cancel culture need to take a good look in the mirror. You’re not being righteous, you’re just being a bully.
The Truth about Preventing STDs
It’s important to acknowledge two things. The first is that Holly did not intend to bully or shame anyone who participated in premarital sex in her TikTok, neither was she suggesting that those who do deserve to get STDs. The second is that abstinence is the most effective way of preventing STDs (it’s just not the most popular). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) agrees that “the surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex.”
The Center for Disease Control agrees that “the surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex.”
The CDC also recommends using condoms, having fewer sexual partners, getting the HPV vaccine, talking with your partner about STDs, and getting tested regularly. Abstinence may be the best way to prevent STDs, but there are also ways to practice safe sex that reduce your chances of contracting one.
There’s a huge difference between suggesting that abstinence or having fewer sexual partners is the best way to prevent STDs (it’s what my Ob/Gyn told me when I first visited her) and shaming those who participate in premarital or casual sex. Most of us can understand that, but that didn’t stop the Twitter cancel culture mob from going after Nurse Holly. There’s a difference between holding people accountable for their actions and bullying them into silence. Cancel culture is only getting worse, and acknowledging that it’s a problem is the first step to ending it.