4 tips to survive being cancelled on social media

TOUCH Cyber Wellness

4 tips to survive being cancelled on social media
Cancel culture refers to the phenomenon of using social media to publicly reject or boycott powerful and influential individuals or institutions who have said or done something offensive. 

The idea of being ‘cancelled’ has been around for a while but only rose to prominence through the #MeToo movement that went viral in 2017 [1]. Victims of sexual harassment and abuse were empowered to speak out against their abusers, many of whom held powerful positions in society. The movement was able to bring to attention the issue of sexual harassment and abuse as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

While cancel culture is a tool for social justice, it is not without its negative impacts. Cancel culture can often go too far and turn into cyberbullying, which is aimed at ostracising and condemning the target, rather than having healthy conversations to discuss differing opinions or helping someone learn from their mistakes.

This can have serious consequences for the individuals being targeted, including harm to their reputation, loss of employment, and threats to their safety and well-being. The effects can be even worse for teenagers as they are at the age where social connections are extremely important to them. Being ‘cancelled’ can cause them to struggle with trusting others and feeling a sense of belonging, resulting in anxiety and depression [2]. 

With the rise of cancel culture, the targets are no longer just public figures but anyone on the internet. 

If you find yourself being ‘cancelled’ or targeted online, it can be a very overwhelming situation. But remember that this is not the end of the world for you. In fact, there are laws in Singapore to protect you.

The Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) protects individuals from being harassed online. Under POHA, you can apply for a protection order and press charges if you are a victim of doxxing [3]. If what is said about you is false and has damaged your reputation, you may seek legal action under the Defamation Act [4].

Other than getting help from the law, here are four tips to cope with being ‘cancelled’ on social media:

Record evidence – If you are being harassed, the first thing you should do is to screenshot the harmful messages as evidence in the event you decide to take action against the perpetrators. Try to remain calm and refrain from retaliating as bullies tend to seek attention from their targets. Furthermore, responding hastily might only worsen the situation [5].

Assess the situation and act accordingly – Check if the people cancelling you on social media have a valid reason to do so. Ask a trusted friend or family member to point out your mistakes if you are unsure [6]. If you are in the wrong, you need own up to your mistakes and apologise to the affected parties. 

Take a break from social media – Constantly being online and reading the criticisms directed at you will only affect your mental health. Take a break from social media and turn off all notifications for peace of mind. Try other therapeutic activities such as journalling so that you can put your feelings down somewhere in a healthy way.

Seek help – Let your parents and teachers know about the situation. You might be asked questions such as who the bully is, how often the bullying happens, what the bully has been doing to target you, etc [4]. This is for the adults to get a better understanding of your situation and intervene accordingly. It is also important to surround yourself with friends and family who can support you and protect your mental health.

Remember, everyone deserves a chance to learn from their mistakes and move forward. If you are currently going through a tough time from being ‘cancelled’, keep in mind that you can recover from this experience. Practising good cyber etiquette and being mindful of what you say online can help prevent future incidents. 

TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW), through cutting-edge and relevant strategies, advocates respect, a balanced lifestyle and responsible use of digital technologies to help families grow together in the digital age.

1. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/cancelled-cancel-culture-law-explainer-1978766
2. https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teenage-cancel-culture/
3. https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/laws-penalties-doxxing-singapore-examples/ 
4. https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/what-if-someone-defames-me-over-a-blog-or-other-forms-of-social-networking-media/
5. https://cyberbullying.org/advice-for-adult-victims-of-cyberbullying 
6. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-mental-health-effects-of-cancel-culture-5119201