“Think of the dumbest thing you did as a teenager. Now, imagine if that moment were preserved forever in the permanent record, available for anyone to see.”
I am so grateful that social media was not a thing when I was in High School or in college. My high school days were filled with me speaking my mind without concern or consequences. My college days were much of the same except I had a bigger platform and a bit more knowledge. I learned to control my temper, refine my speech, and choose my battles as I matured. But in the early years of young adulthood, that was not the case. I can’t imagine what it would be like to relive the craziest thing that I’ve ever said or done over and over on social media. I can’t imagine teenage Jonita, with her sharp tongue and unrelenting sense of right and wrong, navigating a Cancel Culture environment. The thought of there being a permanent digital record of some of the moments that you are not proud of is frightening but the reality that your future can be altered by it is terrifying, especially as a mother.
My two youngest children are 13 and 15 years old. Olivia is in Middle School (I’m convinced if you can survive middle school, you can survive anything) and Pierce is in high school. They attend the same private Christian school but separate campuses that connect by a beautiful courtyard. Most of the kids attend from kindergarten thru 12th grade. It sounds lovely and it is in many ways but there is a downside, everyone remembers everything. As a parent, these words haunted me, “Gone are the days when dumb, insensitive, or offensive teenage mishaps were forgotten or simply disappeared. Their extensive digital record makes Gen Z the most cancelable cohort, and that makes modern adolescence kind of nightmarish”.  I have heard countless stories of young people making stupid comments and it costs them opportunities. Recently, Pierce shared that there was a physical altercation at his school involving a student that is he is really close to and a group of boys. Apparently, this student used the “N” word in 6th grade as a dare and he is now in 10th grade. It’s a prime example of someone telling someone and the pack mentality kicked in. So, four years later this kid is physically defending himself in the boy’s restroom against 4 anger boys and later finds himself facing explosion. This is CANCEL CULTURE. He is facing a permanent mark on his record and the possibility of being forced to leave a school community that he has been in since elementary school. This is the problem with Cancel Culture, it does not leave room for grace and forgiveness.
This is hard, so hard to navigate. I found truth in the statement, Lukianoff and Schlott say, “parenting in the age of Cancel culture is incredibly difficult.” Amen and Amen! I don’t scare easily but this is terrifying. The reality is that we (parents) may not be able to stop cancel culture from affecting our children. Lukianoff and Schlott state, “there are so many factors outside the control of individual as parents-including the behavior of other people’s children, and the ever-lurking threat that they might target your kid with a cancellation campaign despite your best efforts.” We can not control other people’s children and we cannot fully safeguard our children from the impact of it. But we can work together as parents. “The more parents that band together to raise a cohort of anti-cancelers, the better.” We need to also understand the ways we contribute to it. “The result of cancel culture is a self-insulating generation. We adults contribute to this anxiety by staying silent-or even cheering- when young people are canceled for something they said or did in adolescence.” Unfortunately, I have heard parents make statements like, “They deserved it!” when referring to a child that has been canceled to a careless action. Shameful!!!
This book provided tangible solutions for me. I need something to put into action when facing something so awful, so damaging, and so malignant. I need some tools to fix this with, I need weapons to fight with. It is my responsibility as a parent to teach, nurture, and direct my child. I can help stop cancel culture by teaching my kids not to be perpetrators. I can model grace and forgiveness so that my children can extend it to others. I appreciate this statement, “Every parent can play a role in providing the framework for a generation of anti-cancelers to thrive. If we succeed, Cancel Culture will wither on the vine.” Lukianoff and Schlott provide a five-step plan to help mindful parents raise an anti-canceler. They share,
- Revive the golden rule.
- Encourage free, unstructured time.
- Emphasize the importance of friendships.
- Teach kids about differences.
- Practice what you preach.
I will print these steps, place them on my office wall, commit to memory, put into action, and pray that I have the ability to influence my children in an environment that is difficult to navigate. My goal is to cancel Cancel Culture!
 Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott, The Canceling of the American Mind (New, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2023), 211
 Ibid., 213.
 Ibid., 230.
 Ibid., 230.
 Ibid., 230.
 Ibid., 214.
 Ibid., 231.
 Ibid., 219.