Is it mob tribal mentality breeding polarisation? Or is it power to the people? Toppling one Weinsteiny, Unethical-brandy-tandy, Trumpy dickhead at a time? Or possibly, an actually innocent Johnny Depp?
Either way, Cancel Culture on the internet is happening at lightning speed and all the time. Facebook and Instagram algorithms are designed to engage its audiences in content that elicits strong emotional reactions, like the ‘aw’ of a cat video and you guessed it, the ‘gr’ of literally anything that will get you angry. All this in a bid to keep you engaged for longer to market you things for the ad dosh.
BUT HERE’S THE THING: Cancel culture by the masses has been around for ages. It’s not new. It’s a behaviour Homo sapiens evolved and have long used to keep the herd safe from individuals who pose threats.
One of my favourite earlier examples comes from the Ancient Athenians. Now if you thought I was going to give you a detailed and well-informed breakdown, exploring the complexities of contemporary online cancel culture… I’m not going to do that. You should watch Contrapoints on Youtube or something if you want to get that real-good content. Instead, I am going to zero in on comedy gold which was first introduced to me by the aforementioned Queen Bee herself. If you don’t know the gorg face and BRAINS of Contrapoints, you really should:
Ever heard of the word Ostracism? Or as google defines it, “to exclude from a society or group?” Well if you did google it, you may have looked at its number two definition, “In ancient Greece it was the temporary banishment from a city by popular vote.” And by “temporary banishment,” google and I mean TEN WHOLE YEARS. Which is terrible and hilarious when you think about it in actual practice. You could vote for anyone! Or as my Year 10 Humanities teacher would say: the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. And I would add: Politicians, celebrities and even your parents.
Voting began with an annual vote to see if the masses wanted to hold an ostracism. Ah I love democracy! If the answer was yes, votes to ostracise someone were cast by writing names on ostraka, which were little bits of pottery broken off from vases and other earthenware. If you were illiterate, you might’ve needed help at this point. The shards were then counted and the person whose name had the most ostraka had ten days to leave the city. The penalty if they returned too early? Death.
Image from Joy of Museums
This just in: Facebook posts, online petitions and dislike buttons are overrated! Give me the absolute drama of smashing a vase and etching someone’s name into some stone-cold pottery shard by candle light, followed by casting it as a vote with the satisfying chink of earthenware.
You’ve got to admit that it’s a pretty epic picture.
The only way I’d ever want to be cancelled.