The Problem with a Reactive Culture

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There is a problem in today’s society. No duh! I hear ya say. Yeah, it is The other side who is causing all this strife and ruining our country! It’s the other person’s fault. This person is this type of despicable. It’s that person’s words that are so offensive. Our culture has become one of reactionary tribalism. 

Now I know I run the chance of ostracizing myself from some of my audience. This isn’t about whether I like our president or not. This is about how and why the reactionaries of the cancel culture are not achieving anything they claim to be after. In fact, there is a chance that they will make the matters worse.

Why the Cancel Culture is way off Base

Now the last 7 years or so there has been a rise of people who make it their primary objective to get anybody they don’t agree with shut down. They will dig up comments from 20 years ago and make a huge stink about what was at the time perfectly acceptable. 

Yeah, I hear the comeback. They are fighting injustices! Are they? By silencing people instead of helping them to understand. By screaming at people the Cancel culture isn’t winning any friends. Yeah, they have successfully scared big businesses that are in no way able to actually satisfy the hunger that the cancel culture has. The Big businesses that they have coerced into dropping images of the Land-o-lakes butter Indian, Aunt Jemima, and Uncle Ben for the sole purpose of dropping an image. At one-time people were proud to see a black man as the icon of a food package, the first Aunt Jemima was an ex-slave, and the Indians of Minnesota were honored to be represented. The Businesses that dropped them out of fear of losing business share. Did the cancel culture change the minds of anybody? No.

man holding telephone screaming

Why Screaming does not fix a problem

If you have watched any of the news you have seen people standing in front of restaurants and other establishments and they have bullhorns or just their voices and are screaming at the patrons of the restaurant telling them how bad and horrible they are. This is the most ineffectual way of changing a person’s mind. The reason is because of a great word called Psychological Reactance. In a nutshell, it is that part of your mind that instantly goes the opposite way of being told. Like being told not to think of an orange gorilla. What did you think of? That orange gorilla.

When you tell someone they are to stop being anything their mind is basically going to say F— You and do the opposite. When this happens there is no channel of communication open. Trying to use fear as a means to coerce never works for long. People get tired and they strike back. Now it may not be a violent strike but it will be resistance. Both sides are reacting and they are reacting in a way that discourages open dialog. Now are either side open for conversation? That I don’t know but at the moment it would appear that nobody really wants to talk.

Why Shutting People Down Doesn’t Work

The tactic of shutting a person down for something they said 10 years ago doesn’t work either. This is because you are not working to change a mind, you are working to just shut it up. IF there really was rampant racism running through society, it would be better to have an open and honest dialog with those you disagree with. Yet, Instead of coming to understand people, they are being silenced. 

There is an example of this happening right now over on Spotify. Recently they purchased  Joe Rogan and his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, for what is believed to be around $100 million dollars. Why did they purchase his show? Because his show was the most downloaded podcast. Why was Joe’s podcast so popular? Because he had honest dialogues. Not just with people who he agreed with but people he disagreed with. Yet now the Spotify employees are threatening to strike if they are not able to go against the original agreement.

man raising hands

The employees are not understanding that what Joe Rogan is actually doing is helping change minds and having honest dialog.

This is killing Communication. Canceling other people simply because you don’t agree. It creates prejudice instead of understanding. It kills free thought which, believe it or not, is what made this country so great. You can think a thought and not worry about being shot down.

Why being Reactive isn’t the Solution

Now I touched base a little as to why reacting to something isn’t the solution. To dive a little deeper I would like to use the example of the difference between reactive and responsive.

Take a medical condition, if a doctor says you had a reaction to a drug that is a bad thing. While if you are responding to the medication that means you are getting better. So living life in a reactive nature will never get you into a place where you are able to lead effectively. That what I see many of these people actually want they want to lead without earning the ability to lead. You can’t get something for nothing. If you do you effectively stole it and you will never be able to hold on to that for very long. There is no honor among thieves. 

Yet there are other reasons to not be reactive.

Fear mindset

Bullies and abusive spouses often use fear as a means to control people. First off you can’t control people. If you could, people would love North Korea and wouldn’t be trying to flee. Operating out of fear, that is trying to instill fear or threatening people can have short term results. Yet in the long term, these tactics do not work. People get tired of being under the pressure they leave. 

That is why people who are jealous can’t stay in a committed relationship. The other person gets tired of being accused of actions that they are not doing. Abused spouses eventually leave or the abuser gets so emboldened that they eventually kill.

man in black shirt and gray denim pants sitting on gray padded bench
Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

The fear mindset doesn’t allow for the growth of a relationship. Relationships have to have trust. If you are afraid you will not be able to have the relationship that is needed for true communication to exist.

Lack of Connection

Fear keeps people small. It doesn’t allow for people to expand in understanding. It keeps people from being able to fully connect with each other. The cancel culture wants to make a change but they are doing so in such an inefficient way. Look at how the cancel culture is working right now and compare that to Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Dr. King’s tactics made a change. It helped convince people that all the black community wants is a fair shake. Yet they couldn’t because even peacefully assembling there were people there to push back, who wound up being the better communicator of what is right? Dr. King and he didn’t throw a punch. Dr. King made a connection with the public. While the opposite side was the one who was violent.

To be able to make a connection you have to be even-tempered. Screaming at your son because he screwed up and dented the car isn’t going to compel him to tell you the next time he screws up. He is more likely to hide his mistakes than to own up to them. Why? Because there is a lack of connection. Without that connection, there is no communication. Without communication, there is no change. 

people standing near building

Now, are people going to want to change? That I don’t know. They may very well be ok with the status quo. If that is the case then you have to please your case again, and again. You lose the fight the first moment you throw a punch. 

There are times that I get into Twitter dust-ups. I do like to have heated discussions but I am the winner the moment that the other person starts calling me names. Because at that moment they have no more arguments. There is a saying 

Why raise your voice, when you should be reinforcing your argument?

All they can do from that point on is to use names and insults. Some people just block me and that is sad because they choose to not have a discussion, again that is a lack of communication.

The Scarcity Mindset

The scarcity mindset is so prevalent in the cancel culture. They focus on all the things that they don’t have instead of seeing all that they do have. They see all that is lost instead of all that is gained. 

Now many people want to ask if that means that they should stay in their current position? No, if they want to move up in status that is great they have that ability. That is actually what makes America great. You have the choice to stay on the poor side of town or if you want to hitch up your britches and start building your empire and become the richest man in the world guess what you can. Bill Gates wasn’t born the richest man in the world. Yet he was able to create something that everybody wanted and they bought it.

assorted map pieces
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

We all have the ability yet so many don’t. Why is that? Because they are focused on what they don’t have instead of what they do have.

Fixed Mindset

Many on both sides rely on talent and knowledge. They do not see the ability to grow from learning from hard work. When there is an idea that is different from their own they don’t approach the opposing idea with an intention to understand and find solutions. 

The cancel culture sees opposing ideas as needing to be silenced at what cost? The cost of being able to learn and grow. It keeps people small out of fear that if they become the tall poppy they will be cut down

Victim mindset

Now the cancel culture also is full of the worst mindset of all and that is the victim mindset. This mindset alone is all about the lack of power. Playing the victim removes all responsibility of your own power and hands that responsibility over to the person who they are offended by. People as a whole have no respect for a victim. They may feel sorry for the person and may try to help. But after a few tries, they give up helping because the victim mindset is one of no responsibility. The person helping eventually gives up because the victim actually doesn’t want help they want sympathy. 

There is no power when you are a victim. You give your power up to the person who you believe did you wrong. Though playing the victim is another example of a scarcity mindset. They don’t see that they actually have all the power to control their lives and to get out of whatever predicament they are in. So you see they don’t see the resource of their own autonomy and agency. They believe they are powerless

It’s about Control

Now with the cancel culture if you are free to talk as long as what you say is to their prescribed beliefs. If you step out of line you are attacked and discredited. This doesn’t expand any amount of knowledge. The fear of being excommunicated from the group is a huge fear people have. This harkens back to when people lived in tribes and if you were an outsider you want to fit in with the tribe.

Being kicked out of a tribe means that you could die. You don’t have the protection and security.of the whole tribe. That fear would at one time be horrible but these days people fail to see that being driven from a community won’t kill you. Yeah it is uncomfortable but you won’t die and you can find a community that will fit better. 

Yet this is where the Cancel culture gets it so wrong.If you drive a person from their tribe someone with a different viewpoint may be happy to take them into their fold. Then they lose more control than they gain.

Now this problem is actually on both sides. So many people react instead of responding to honest thoughts people who don’t understand actually ask. We as a whole would rather ridicule and scoff at these questions instead of answering. We fail to help build understanding and instead we push people to think they are incapable of having a good question when any question is worthy of answering.

Talk to others no matter how different the views. Have discussions and keep from yelling because the moment the other side starts slandering the other that is because they have lost the argument and have shut down the lines of communication.

How to change?

THe way you change your culture is starting with yourself. You have to do the hard work.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.

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