Cancel culture – a blessing or a curse?

Do we need to cancel cancel culture?

In this day and age, the idea of getting cancelled is something a lot of us have heard of, especially people who use social media. It seems as if there’s always someone who needs to be canceled. But what does that really mean?

The idea behind cancelling someone is that primarily celebrities or other public figures such as politicians get held accountable if they say or do something offensive. You can, of course, also “cancel” someone who isn’t famous, like a friend who has caused you offence, but the main idea of cancel culture is to effectively end the career of a well-known person and/or revoke them of their status because they did something offensive. This happens either through boycott or disciplinary actions, like firing someone. If you look at it like that, cancelling someone seems like a good way to achieve more social justice. It gives power to the people who have been harmed and can also serve as a way of combatting the major power imbalances between the public and public figures with far-reaching platforms and audiences.

However, there’s also lots of criticism regarding this topic. Especially more conservative politicians have voiced their concerns. They think that cancelling someone is nothing more than the attempt of a furious mob to silence others who might have something important to say. Then-President Trump for example described cancel culture as a political weapon which demands total submission from anyone who disagrees with the overall opinion of the wide public. He even stated that he thinks of it as a “growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought for so hard”.

But in reality, it actually takes a lot to end someone’s career and there are very few people who truly have been canceled. Some might have had to experience periods of time where they had to face more or less momentous criticism, but most of the time cancelled people won’t be cancelled forever. Some even come back stronger than before because they gained fame from it. Louis CK, a very famous comedian, got cancelled because he sexually intimidated multiple women. That, in fact, really seems like something you should be declared “over” for. Even though to some extent his career has been impacted negatively, he still has been nominated for a Grammy afterwards and it surprisingly even looks like these incidents found him a new audience.

Regardless, there are also people who fear getting cancelled. They are afraid to communicate their real feelings and opinions which can also be problematic. We are fortunately privileged enough to have the right of free speech in our country. Some say that cancel culture infringes on that right. In a functioning democracy people need to be willing to hear one another out even if they disagree, but we need to be aware that free speech does not include racism, homophobia, sexism or any other kind of violence.

Author: Christina Bello

Dear Diary …

Writing as a way of learning about yourself

The way we document the events of our lives has changed from a way of saving our private thoughts and memories to an action that is shared with the world. We switched from pen and paper to smartphone cameras and social media. However, there are still benefits to writing in a journal and expressing the mind with pen and paper.

… they said: “stop taking pictures”

Nowadays, with being constantly connected to others through social media, some people tend to think that the events in our lives, our greatest memories, are meant to be seen by other people on the internet. Other people also share pictures of their vacation, so we should do it as well, right? The answer is: it is up to you. The important thing is not to put pressure on yourself. Don’t allow the thought of taking the perfect picture for the internet to distract you from gaining pleasant memories.

Sitting down in the evening and writing in a diary is a good way of raising awareness of your actions throughout the day. Writing about your conversations can help to reflect on your relationships with others. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves how much impact our environment has on us.

… I think I haven’t done anything today

Through writing regularly, we can also track our productivity and overall, how we are living. Having nothing to write about can mean that we spent a lot of time doing something that might not be worth mentioning, like browsing through the internet for most of the day. We can reflect on that and figure out if it was just procrastination or exhaustion after events or tasks of the past days. Flipping to prior pages is enough to find out. While reading through those entries, we can also see if we spend most of our days living exactly the same or take the necessary time to meet friends, travel and make memories. Writing almost every day that we’ve spent eight to twelve hours working or studying and only having the energy left to lie around afterwards is what makes the contents on social media so interesting to us. Instead of experiencing certain things for ourselves, we rather watch how others do it.

… I’m feeling better now

Writing can be calming and ease the mind. We can be honest with ourselves and let our emotions flow into the paper. As already mentioned, diaries raise our awareness, not only of our actions but also of our feelings. Sometimes, we might think that the issue that is bothering us is not important to us. “Let’s forget it and not bother others with talking about it.” Our diaries will never be bothered. These abstract emotions get a physical form on paper and become visible. If the same issue is mentioned several times, we can do something about it.

The diary gives us the opportunity to learn about what makes us happy, what is overwhelming, and what should be changed in our lives. We get to know ourselves better and that’s why documenting daily events in your diary has way more advantages than sharing it online.

Author: Merve Cevic

Is Cancel Culture working?

Why Cancel Culture is Problematic

Cancelling people has become a widespread phenomenon in the last decade. Not only celebrities, but journalists, politicians, professors, artists and across the entire media and political landscape are affected. Cancelling an individual, however, often goes beyond simply pointing out mistakes they made. It is often imbued with ideological beliefs, posing a huge threat to constructive criticism and real progress.

Understanding the Debate

Cancel Culture can be seen as a position of moral high ground which is used by an individual or a group of people to oust someone from social or professional circles. It’s often connected to social media, as it poses as an easy way to publicly point out mistakes people have made. An example where social media was predominantly involved is the #MeToo movement of 2017, in which women were encouraged to come forward with stories about sexual harassment they have experienced. A prominent figure that was – justly – cancelled was Harvey Weinstein. The case of Weinstein clearly shows one of the advantages Cancel Culture provides: successfully seeking and often rightfully pointing out grievances.

The Shortcomings of Cancel Culture

Even though there are many instances where Cancel Culture came forth as useful, inspiring entire movements, it shouldn’t be treated uncritically. Especially on social media, cancellations can happen almost at lightspeed. Earlier that day someone was a genuine, down-to-earth celebrity and from one moment to another, they are someone to avoid. Cancellation instead of conversation seems to be the mantra of such debates. James Gunn, for example, was called out when a right-wing media personality discovered offensive tweets that he posted in 2009 and 2010. The outcry on Twitter was tremendous, leading Disney to fire the director in a response to the outrage. The media backlash was mostly led by progressive leftists despite having originated from the opposite side of the political spectrum. All of this happened without taking into consideration how Gunn’s position on the matter has changed since then, rendering his personal growth in the past ten years practically invisible. Even after having apologised for the tweets that he posted a decade ago, it took a lot of effort from various actors and actresses to get him rehired by Disney. Judging people based on things they did throughout their lives doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of what they stand for today. Another shortcoming is the actual lack of reach and consequences for people that have been cancelled. Kanye West, for instance, faced a massive backlash as well after publicly supporting Donald Trump and calling slavery “a choice”. Yet the outcries have had very little consequences for his career, his music, and his fashion.

What Cancel Culture Misses

Cancel Culture can be problematic because it’s often used as a weapon more than it’s used to point out grievances. However, this isn’t to say that it can’t be used to hold people accountable. The way it is often executed is just missing vital parts of any discussion: constructivism and engagement in good faith.  Sometimes, it can be more about destroying a person and making way for personal beliefs rather than constructive criticism based on facts.

Author: Samuel Brand

OK Millennials?

How the online fight between Gen Z and the Millennials escalated

Not far ago, in 2019, millennials were mocking the baby boomer generation by using the phrase “OK Boomer“. Now the tables have turned, and the Millennials are no longer the revolutionary generation making fun of the old established attitudes. Millennials are now the target of online jokes regarding their fashion by the younger generation, Gen Z. 

Would you describe your clothing style as trendy? If so, it is likely that you can be considered as a part of Gen Z. Or do you still love to wear your skinny jeans and side-parted hair like a typical millennial? These simple preferences regarding different fashion choices have divided the internet and led to a generational conflict on various online platforms. Whereas some Gen Zs have claimed that skinny jeans are now out of fashion and should be “cancelled“, some Millennials have fought back, protesting that no one can prescribe what to wear. This whole conflict escalated quickly, leading to hate songs and mocking videos. In my opinion, the people who took part in this online fight damaged the reputation of their generation. Especially for the Millennials, regarding their age, an online fight about fashion was not the most mature idea.

Millennials vs Gen

According to the Pew Research Centre, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is a Millennial. The generation afterwards, Gen Z, is classified between 1997 and 2012. This categorisation implies that you share experiences with other people of your generation, like major political events, the economic situation of your country or the cultural and social influences through popular culture. Millennials were often criticised in newspapers as lazy in their career, unable to commit to their relationships and even as Facebook addicted. Yet, they are seen as adaptable, tolerant and open-minded. If you compare these to the stereotypical characteristics of a Gen Z, many are relatively similar. Like Millennials, Gen Zs are connected through social media, using Instagram and TikTok. Critics perceive their multitasking abilities as a lack of focusing. Additionally, Gen Z shares the liberal tolerant political view but appears more vocal and active, as seen in the “Fridays for Future“ movement. Another difference is Gen Z’s preference in working, where not flexibility but independence is favoured. As you can see, these two differ in some areas, like fashion, but are not oppositional. 

Do you identify with your generation?

After the controversial online dispute, I asked myself if I really identify with my generation. Even though I am part of Generation Z, I often understand references only for 90s kids. So, it is possible to share certain attributes with the other generation. Especially for people born between two generations, it can be hard to be sorted into one. Besides this, you sometimes don’t want to be associated with your generation because your opinions aren’t mainstream. Of course, a generation unites lots of people, each individually and differently. It is important to remember that your generation doesn’t determine you. It is just a construct to analyse the social structures and the influences of the time you were raised.

Author: Sandra Haupt

The rise of TikTok

Lockdowns and quarantines have taken their toll on all of us – on some people more, on some people less. In the beginning, some people started doing home workouts like crazy just to give up on them the very next week. Others, apparently, got keen on cooking and baking but, eventually, they only made banana bread once in a while instead of further developing this hobby. And then, there were people, including myself, who downloaded an app out of self-isolation and boredom – an app that had been, at first, so passionately despised! The app, we tried so hard to avoid, suddenly takes up most of our screen time per day. So, what’s happening here?

Why is TikTok becoming so popular?

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by the company ByteDance. In China, it is also known as Douyin and the platform is used by tiktokers who make a variety of short videos that aren’t longer than 3 minutes. It became globally available in 2018 after merging with the lip-syncing app, which had already been quite popular among teenagers before.

Since then, TikTok has been downloaded 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play and a whopping 90% of tiktokers use the app multiple times during the day. The company targets especially Gen Z (people that are born between 1997 and 2012) and this generation will tell you that TikTok is a whole new subculture.

However, as social media becomes gradually involved in our daily life, statistics show that more and more adults, especially Millennials (people that are born between 1981 and 1996), find the app for themselves. If you ask them about TikTok they either hate it or they have a burning passion for it and here is why: a lot of Millennials still associate TikTok with While you could mainly find videos of underaged teenagers lip-syncing and dancing to pop songs on, TikTok developed a wider range of content, including lifestyle and most importantly comedy.

What you will mainly find on TikTok: Trends and inside jokes also known as memes

TikTok makes you feel like you are a part of something big and if you don’t participate in this platform, you will have the feeling of missing out on something. The difference between TikTok and other social media apps like Instagram or Twitter is significant. While users on Instagram and co follow and consume content of certain people with no fixed algorithms, TikTok is more like an engine that uses your interaction data to automatically show you what you want without having to follow anybody. The engagement among users is high and the content never ends. It’s like an artificial intelligence which is highly personalised, and it tells you: “You should watch this, I know you’ll like it” – and it is almost guaranteed that you will.

Watching a two-hour long movie? No. Spending 3 hours on TikTok? Yes.

While it sounds great to be flooded with new, refreshing content and no boredom in sight, TikTok has also faced many problems: allegations of a failing data protection system, cyber mobbing, no protection of minors and it censors content that is considered sensitive by the Chinese government. It got to the point where the U.S. feared that the app is being used for espionage and, thus, poses a national security risk. On August 2020, Donald Trump even tried to ban TikTok in the U.S. All in all, it can be said that if TikTok remains government approved in most countries, its future will stay bright and its community will keep on growing.

Author: Judith Pütz

eMAG’s Facebook dilemma

So, turns out Facebook might be a shady company. I know. Who’da thunk? While private users have begun to jump ship or at the very least to post memes about Mark Zuckerberg’s peculiar way to drink water, public pages – like eMAG – are having to make a pretty tough decision.

Yet another Facebook scandal

Alright, let’s start with a very brief, by no means, complete summary. Facebook is collecting user data, and this goes quite a bit deeper than what some people like to admit. Call logs, contact lists, even where people live. Pretty useful stuff, one might say. Would come in handy if you were to – oh, I don’t know – create ads to sway people’s opinion on stuff like the 2016 Brexit vote or certain presidential candidates in the US. Well, Cambridge Analytica found a way to collect this data and sold it to customers who in turn used it for… You can do the math. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from these practices in the senate hearing last month, but whether his company will change its data-guzzling ways is more than doubtful.

The convenience of networks

And this is where we all come in, actively this time. The development of Facebook’s user base hasn’t really changed all that much following the latest scandal, but a number of influential personalities have openly encouraged people to delete their account, for example Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Space X. So there is at least a chance that the already sub-optimal public opinion about Facebook could lead to people leaving. The problem is, where to?

You see, people have been concerned about Facebook for a long time, but we’re all so invested in its ecosystem that moving on from it seems like a huge step. You’d have to find services that can do everything you’ve found in Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. And ideally, they should have a user base as all-encompassing as these apps, too. Facebook is all about being convenient. Looking for capable alternatives and convincing your family, friends and colleagues to actually use them is anything but that.

Ties that bind

For eMAG the issue is similar, but with a slight twist. For us Facebook’s massive reach means that we can use those existing networks to get word going when we have a promotion event, a new article ready, or our latest issue around the corner. People who are interested share it and all of a sudden 200 people most of our team members have never seen know our release date. That’s just neat! But doesn’t that also mean that we encourage people to stick around on a platform that has done enough shady stuff to deserve being shunned indefinitely?

We’re not pretending that we’re as big as Kanye, but this definitely is a problem that every influencer and page administrator on Facebook needs to be aware of. If you use Facebook for promotion, you bind people to that system and it’s gotten really tough to justify that now.

To leave or not to leave…

So, this is where we’re at. If we quit Facebook, we take the moral high ground. We also throw away most of the promotion work we’ve done since the magazine’s inception. If we stay, we are able to reach a modest, but ever-growing number of readers and can hope to reach people outside the campus on a regular basis.

If you know of any alternatives, please drop us a line, through Facebook, if need be. Every social network has to start with just a handful of users. Maybe you are one of them. We’re definitely open for a service that respects its users.

Text & Picture: Andreas Böhm