If there’s one thing I’m grateful for, it’s the fact that my parents always made me treat the internet like an armed bomb that could go off at any time. My father would tell me over and over again that anything I shared would exist forever. These words probably held me back from posting things online when I was sad or angry that could be unearthed today by someone with more time on their hands than me. Cancel culture wasn’t a thing when the World Wide Web was born.
As the war in Palestine continues to rage on, something that I have found increasingly surprising is the thousands of people calling for singers, actresses, and influencers to share their opinions about the matter and take sides or get cancelled, and I am honestly a bit bemused by it all. I mean, I’m all for people standing up for what they believe in, but honestly, it’s neither here nor there to me if the model who inspired me to buy narrow sunglasses has an opinion on Gaza. That’s not why I follow her.
It’s so strange to me that people seem to have such big expectations from figures who exist on their feed for very specific reasons that have nothing to do with international issues. Just because someone can sing something that touches you, it doesn’t mean that they know, understand, or indeed feel comfortable sharing their opinions on things that have nothing to do with their music. The people you choose to follow don’t owe you anything just because you’ve given them the currency of your like.
I think back to who my role models were. Yes, I loved Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but they existed in a very particular context. I wanted their hair, makeup, and low-cut jeans, but given they were both child stars with minimal schooling, I was never going to hold my breath to hear their opinions about foreign policy. That’s what someone like Hillary Clinton was for.
Also, does no one think about the anxiety that would come with making such public statements? It seems ironic to me that people have become so aware and focused on their own anxiety while being unable to understand that others might feel exactly the same way as them, if not worse. Getting hate from Jean Claude, who lives around the corner from your grandma, is hardly at the same level as getting thousands of nasty messages a day.
You don’t need a star to tell you what’s right or wrong. Or to support a cause. Pick up a book, watch a documentary, and make up your own mind. I know that it’s fast becoming a novelty, but perhaps you could actually listen to experts and research things yourself instead of trying to get backstories from 30-second TikToks. Putting pressure on others to take positions and put things out on the internet that they don’t know much about and will have to deal with for the rest of their careers – now, that’s behaviour that should be cancelled.