Cancel Culture and Bullying

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. If you haven’t, let me explain quickly. Dr. Seuss has some books with extremely racist imagery and his estate has decided not to publish them anymore. Mr. Potato Head has changed the brand to Potato Head and will sell the base set as gender neutral to make it possible to build any sort of family. Unfortunately, the press release forgot to mention they were still going to sell the legacy Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head.

All this has brought back cries of “Cancel Culture” (I talked about this back when a certain millionaire author felt cancelled. Part 1 and Part 2, I also talked about being problematic here.).

There’s a lot of stuff to unpack when it comes to Cancel Culture and I don’t have the energy to write a book about it. Instead I’ll tell you a story.

I’m a Geek or Nerd, whatever you want to call me. I live in pop culture and spend way more time reading about tech than is necessary for me. A few years ago, someone confronted me about how problematic the idea of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” was, considering their ancestors had been kidnapped and enslaved by real life pirates. (Pirates, corsairs, and privateers were a big part of the slave trade.)

I thought they were kidding; it wasn’t about real pirates, but just a silly internet meme based off cartoon versions. I swear I went through the full gamut of grief. I still have no idea why I was so attached to the damn thing.

In the end, a friend messaged me and said something like, “I get that you’re upset but maybe you should listen to the victim about what bothers them.” I’m sure it was better worded than that, but it’s what made me stop and think. I don’t have the right to question what hurts other people. With that and a cooler head, I realized that, yeah, the day was glorifying a group of people who stole people from their homes and families. Beyond that, they facilitated the complete erasure of multiple cultures. That’s stories, myths, religions, customs, food, etc, everything that makes people feel like people. That’s horrific, and if you don’t think so you need to think some more.

Being told that something hurts others when you thought it was part of you makes you feel like you’re the one to blame. It causes an internal struggle that makes you have to choose between something you think is part of you and another person’s pain. It’s guilt and sorrow and it’s completely on your shoulders.

It’s our responsibility as privileged people to listen to those who have been hurt and try to be compassionate. If something that hurts others is part of you, it might be time to consider if it’s that important and at the very least, admit that it’s a problem.

The calls of “Cancel Culture Gone MAD” and other bullshit is a self defence reflex, but it serves a major purpose, it’s a form of bullying.

Yelling and writing article after article about how sensitive people are and how they should just leave “culture” alone is a backlash that is meant to silence victims and make them question their own hurt. It’s also a way of bullying victims into having to defend their reasons for being hurt.

Next time you are confronted by something that makes you feel like you have to defend yourself against a victim, take the time to think about their point of view and why you have internalized something that was hurtful.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

What’s in a name?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

*Warning Incoming Rant and unpopular opinion*

So there’s been a big uproar lately when a gate attendant mocked a child’s name on social media. (News Story Here). At this point most people are going to be offended and think the gate agent should be fired right?

Unfortunately, most people I’ve seen comment have said the gate agent did something wrong but the parents of the child are really to blame. The name is Abcde (Pronounced Ab-sid-ee).

I’ve seen people say that the parents (actually they almost always say the mother which has its own series of issues) are setting up their child to be mocked. How could they do this to the poor girl?

To everyone who seems to be so offended by the name, are you okay? I’m sorry someone hurt you.

How is this name any different than other names that could get kids teased? Seriously how is this worse than Angus, Richard, or Moon-Unit? Names change, evolve, and some disappear.

One of the arguments I see is, “Stupid Americans who want attention.” It’s fascinating how if this was a child named Séraphin or Apple, people wouldn’t be half as offended.

From a (obviously sensitive and biased) parent, this strikes me as a weird combination of intellectual-snobism and moral superiority. There’s a lot of signs of intellectual decay in the US, but this isn’t one. It’s a random and odd name that has been around for over a century. Sure there are fewer than 500 people with the name at any one time and the child will constantly have to explain it’s not a mistake, but it’s still not a good reason to shame someone.

New Zealand has a law that stops names that could be dangerous, offensive, or confusing. This stops people from naming their child after an honorific, so Princess, Duke, Justice, Baron, etc. It also stops long names like, “Oh god why did my parents call me this?” or names that are too short or consist of one nonstandard character, “i” or “*” There are laws like it all over the world with various levels of success.

Again I’m biased. One of the first people I told Keladry’s name to (before she was born) said that it was very trendy and went on to tell me how they only wanted simple common names in case they wanted to be in the public eye later in life.

Beyond my daughter, I’m also the son of Camille and Yolande so I understand non-standard names and my opinion is to just be kind and speak up against bullying instead of encouraging it.

Names are sounds we use to identify each other. I can find something to tease someone about any name but that doesn’t mean I should. “If you didn’t want them to be teased you shouldn’t have called them a euphemism for toilet?” Poor John.

There was a time people would have mocked anyone called Elizabeth instead of Elisabeth. Get over yourself and stop thinking you’re better than a poor parent whose child was openly mocked for their name.

What a person’s name is, isn’t an excuse for ridicule and shame on anyone who thinks it is.

Éric

Showing Your Geekiness

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

– Elton, Love and Monsters, Doctor Who

I have spent more time trying be an adult and respectable than I’m proud to admit.

Read more