Random Factor Social Suicide

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

We live in a world where widespread scrutiny exists over actions and everything is naked through the internet. The wide majority of people who have been ‘cancelled’ now likely didn’t expect their actions to give them persecution when they were first made. So, what are the chances it will happen to you?

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First, let me frame the issue. I am referring less to the ‘MeToo’ world of sexual harassment and violence, as these actions have been outright vilified for thousands of years. It is more likely the fact, in this case, that the individuals here consciously knew that they were doing a vilified act but rather assumed that no one would ever find out. So this misses the ‘random’ factor to the social suicide.

How is randomness defined, then? Well, the examples that I am referring to consist of actions that were not vilified at one point in time and are vilified later. A grand example of this is of comedians who make a joke that was considered to be tasteful in one era and distasteful in the next. This does include a random factor — it is reasonable to assume that a comedian making the joke initially did not recognize any vilification in the action. It was out there, open, and made for others.

This, of course, makes the topic much more controversial than that of MeToo. Many people (including myself) believe the politics at play when it comes to jokes can be embarrassing at best and downright dangerous at worst. But this article’s discussion point isn’t so much about controversy, and more so what I mentioned at the very beginning: could it happen to you?

Of course, it depends on where you are. If your comments tread the line now then they will certainly cross over later. On the other hand, being overly cautious can also get you — those at the center of the Identity storm find themselves stepping on more stones than the average person, constantly striving to be ‘politically correct’ when in the current environment politically correct is a moving target. So in this way, those more in the middle are less likely to be harmed. This makes logical sense — most people are in the average, and most people aren’t going to incriminate themselves.

It also depends on how much you let yourself show publicly. One of the reasons comedians got hit the worst is because they make these comments explicitly to public audiences. Those who make the jokes privately — who don’t share them on social media or, better yet, on the internet at all — have a layer of protection afforded to them that others might not. 

That being said, long-run changes are more permanent. Post identity politics the ideas of what is right to say and what is wrong will likely land somewhere in the middle. Of course, in the long-run we’re all dead. H. P. Lovecraft never lived to see himself commit social suicide, and it’s unlikely most of us we’ll either. So, the chances of being affected by this change is non-zero, but it is rare — and when it does happen, it’s fleeting. 

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