5.9k Share this

Cancel culture is so often a political thing, aligned with binding progressive dogmas, that we easily overlook its origin in a wholly apolitical setting. I mean the teenage bedroom circa 2010.

In that little hothouse of gossip, games, photos, texts, videos, peer pressure and youth culture, youngsters learned the ways of cancellation with a cheery exertion of personal power. Here’s what happened.

In the first decade of the third millennium, Web 2.0 took off. Google pushed out Netscape, new sites let customers review products, not just buy them, and marvelous tools unleashed unprecedented ways for people to fashion their identities, build a personal network and publicize their experiences and opinions. Remember the opening motto of YouTube: “Broadcast Yourself.”

That was the social impact of Web 2.0: the personal empowerment, the individual “customization.” In handing so much control to users over the “inputs” in their hours so that they could ever more diligently match consumptions and interactions to their preferences, Web 2.0 promised a more pleasing, less disagreeable engagement with the world. 

Users could limit themselves to congenial news sources, consumer goods and fellow human beings. The misfortune of turning on the TV or entering the public square and hearing odious (to you) opinions need no longer happen. You could shut out what affronts you. This was the oft-noted “Daily Me” more and more people constructed, a bubble of self-affirming contacts.

On the web
The web allows many people to shut down antagonists online and even encourages some people to do it offline.
Shutterstock

The kids loved it the most. They were the Digital Natives, Early Adopters with the free time and inquisitive energy to exploit the tools well in advance of the grown-ups. The first sentence of a Forbes story from late 2010 went, “The most interesting thing about Facebook’s top trends of 2010 . . . is how much the social network seems to be ruled by the activity of teenagers.”

They were experimenting and innovating while boomers were watching CBS News and paying bills by check just as they had in 1990. If an elder did buy a “handheld,” he turned to a junior for advice on how to use it. That same year, our outfitted teen sent more than 3,300 texts per month.

This added a powerful arsenal to the dynamics of youth society, an environment of up-and-down relations, sore confusions, needy egos and inventive cruelties. The millennial at home could go to her room, shut the door and log on, chat and text, send and receive, talk and watch and listen for hours. 

Young girl on cellphone
Many Gen Z’s agree with cancel culture and feeling the empowerment to call people out.
Shutterstock

And if a mean girl cut in and threw a slur, she could remove that offender with a simple click. If a news source peddled takes she didn’t like, she could block it, just as she could block unwanted text messages, too. Facebook offered lots of friends and an “unfriend” button as well.

This filtering process went on for hours a day for many years of their lives, years during which a person’s civic sense starts to form. In their little private worlds, millennials saw no reason they should have to put up with noxious persons and ideas. This is My Space — get out!

Very well, but they forgot a crucial distinction: The norms of the bedroom may run on comfort and affirmation, but the norms of public affairs run on the First Amendment. An open society cannot function without high levels of tolerance and citizens with thick skins.

Growing up in the Daily Me, millennials didn’t learn those habits of free speech, freedom of association and rights of privacy. Web 2.0 enabled them to shut down antagonists at home, and it induced them to believe they could do the same outside the home once they left school and joined the adult world.

And they do it now with zeal. According to a 2020 Morning Consult/Politico poll, 40% of millennials approve of cancel culture and 37% disapprove (the rest have no opinion). Only 26% of boomers approve, about half as many as disapprove (49%).

Millennials have been primed for this. It’s not political, really, it’s personal. They have merely transferred the mores of the wired teen bedroom to American society at large. 

And don’t expect Gen Z to rebel against cancel culture. They polled at nearly the same approve/disapprove rates as millennials. They are coming of age in the same bedrooms.

The only answer to this is a corps of mentors and a vigorous youth media that reinforce free speech, a pluralistic public square and genuine tolerance. From what we’ve seen, however, that upright defense of freedom is beyond the will or disposition of most college presidents, social-media CEOs, celebrities in sports and entertainment and journalists. The ultra-connected youth is, indeed, the 21st-century American pioneer.

Mark Bauerlein’s new book is “The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults.”

Source: NYPOST

5.9k Share this
You May Also Like

Walmart and Target Ring the Death Knell of Greedflation

It’s hard to believe that it was only last week that the…
The latest: Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins had complained to confidantes about being weary and not being able to tour a full schedule anymore, prior to his death at 50 in March. He was snapped last year in LA

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins was ‘tired of the whole game’ and schedule ahead of his death

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins had complained to confidantes about being weary…

Tyson Fury KICS OUT at taxi that refused to give him a ride on holiday

Swaying Tyson Fury struggles to stand as he KICKS OUT at a…
At least five catalytic converters found after Irving Park car crash just after reported theft, nationwide spike

At least five catalytic converters found after Irving Park car crash just after reported theft, nationwide spike

CHICAGO (CBS) — Catalytic converters were left all over the ground at…

Podcast Special with Bill O’Reilly and Devin Nunes

Host Alex Marlow has no monologue on today’s podcast, but he does…

Blackpool’s Marvin Ekpiteta apologises for historical homophobic social media posts

Blackpool’s Marvin Ekpiteta apologises for historic homophobic social media posts which have…
A second autopsy will now be carried out by an American pathologist looking into the deaths of three Americans at a luxury resort in the Bahamas

Families of three Americans found dead at Bahamas resort demand SECOND autopsy deaths still mystery

Families of three American tourists who died while on vacation at the…
Donald Trump pays $110,000 fine, but must submit paperwork to end contempt order

Donald Trump pays $110,000 fine, but must submit paperwork to end contempt order

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in…