12 votes

Amanda Palmer is getting dragged on Twitter - is this cancel culture?

I've seen some debate on here about 'cancel culture', and there is a pretty good example of it happening on Twitter more-or-less now (or I guess it's probably old news in internet-time).

Here is Amanda Palmer's Original thread:
https://twitter.com/amandapalmer/status/1197525096937771010

Here is the perspective of the "the guardian's music editor" (not actually the music editor, but she is the woman Amanda Palmer's tweets allude too as the music editor):
https://twitter.com/laurasnapes/status/1197572693081698310

(the actual music editor also weighed in https://twitter.com/ben_bt/status/1197568113535070208)

It's pretty clear that there is an internet pile-on going down. Here is just a few of many examples:
https://twitter.com/JEHANCOURF/status/1197645652605448193
https://twitter.com/BrandyLJensen/status/1197660203937914880

Palmer's husband Neil Gaiman isn't escaping scrutiny either:
https://twitter.com/harrrithon/status/1197594514564820992
https://twitter.com/ThosMcStakin/status/1197662487593635840

Some unrelated anti-Palmer stories cropping up:
https://twitter.com/bombastic_luv/status/1197765401691742208
https://twitter.com/TamikaVST/status/1197672824040828928
https://twitter.com/TamikaVST/status/1197674952591327237

So my question is: is this the cancel culture everyone is worried about? Is twitter going 'too far'? Or is Amanda Palmer getting what she deserved?

I'm honestly on the fence. Give me your thoughts.

34 comments

  1. [4]
    Grawlix
    (edited )
    Link
    Cancel Culture Isn't A Thing, You Snowflakes - Some More News But, to sum up, no, I don't think this is "cancel culture." She's not canceled. Almost nobody has been canceled, and those who have...

    Cancel Culture Isn't A Thing, You Snowflakes - Some More News

    But, to sum up, no, I don't think this is "cancel culture."

    1. She's not canceled. Almost nobody has been canceled, and those who have were as egregious as serial criminal offenders Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein (the latter of which is still living very comfortably). Maybe she lost a few patrons, but...

    2. She's being held accountable for the things she says. She tried to bully journalists at The Guardian, and it backfired. She's under extra scrutiny from the social justice crowd because she tried to hide her own privilege behind those causes, specifically. It's frustratingly common for people with the privilege of wealth and class to champion select progressive causes, but never question the kind of inequality they, personally, benefit from. She may sing about feminism, but she's whining that doing so ought to entitle her to free coverage and publicity in a major newspaper. Her entitlement and hypocrisy are being pointed out.

    3. She's not being canceled for long-forgotten statements or whatever, she's being criticized for what she said, now, and it only brought up skeletons in her closet because she's unapologetic. A meaningful apology really does go a long way, but she's just throwing a tantrum—and a very long one, where she should have stopped part way through realizing what she was saying.

    At worst, she might be on blast for a while. That's it. In a month or so it'll be like nothing ever happened, she'll still be touring, releasing music, and making a ludicrous amount of money from her patrons. MAYBE we'll get some kind of an apology, but who knows how sincere it will be. That's it.

    Amanda Palmer is, has been, and will continue to be doing just fine—and that's kind of the problem people are pointing out. She wasn't a victim here.

    20 votes
    1. [3]
      ibis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I generally agree with your points, but I have absolutely seen people refer to this kind of behaviour as ‘cancel culture’. Like everything else, it is a dynamic term that people tend to bend to...

      I generally agree with your points, but I have absolutely seen people refer to this kind of behaviour as ‘cancel culture’. Like everything else, it is a dynamic term that people tend to bend to mean what they want it to mean.

      I’m usually not very concerned about it when people hand-wring about the poor bigots who are being held accountable for their actions. But people who position themselves as the “sensible center” insist that mob justice on Twitter is a problem. I am genuinely on the fence about agreeing with them (in certain situations).

      I generally agree that, in perspective, people being mean to a semi-celebrity on twitter isn’t a big deal and she’ll no doubt be fine. But I do find it kind of uncomfortable the way that everyone suddenly decides she is fair game for harassment. This is partly because I don’t see her as having any real power, but maybe I’m underestimating the social capital she still has.

      I honestly don’t know if I should feel sorry for her as a largely “has been” artist struggling and crowd funding to stay relevant, or disparage her as a famous person married to another famous person who is going after journalists.

      I also somewhat disagree that she hasn’t all together been “cancelled”. A lot of what she does is made possible by crowd funding, and so attacks to her reputation are likely to impact her (I’ve seen people say that they are patrons and are dropping her). I have no doubt that this incident will, at the very least, quicken the decent of her career. (I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing, I guess I’m just bickering about semantics).

      People are calling her entitled, and I agree, but reading between the lines, she is also probably right that she is receiving less media support because she was blasted on social media for not paying her band a few years back. Again, I’m not saying she didn’t deserve it, but it sounds like the last time she was “cancelled” it did have a noticeable impact on her career.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        Grawlix
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Fair points all around! I was definitely referring to the gross exaggeration of what "cancel culture" is when I linked to the video and said that this isn't an example of it. No one's career is...

        Fair points all around!

        I was definitely referring to the gross exaggeration of what "cancel culture" is when I linked to the video and said that this isn't an example of it. No one's career is really in danger of being cancelled, excepting the extreme criminal examples I mentioned before.

        But, it would also be wrong to say that toxic harassment on the internet isn't a thing. It absolutely is—I just think it's a different problem entirely. Admittedly this is just an assumption, but how many people blasting Amanda Palmer were actually fans of hers, much less ones that financially supported her? Some, yes, definitely; but I would wager most are just bandwagoning.

        To go back to cancel culture, I guess we also have to consider what it would look like.

        If it means getting people to stop hiring or working with a person, Amanda Palmer pretty much did that to herself by avoiding paying people to perform with her (the infamous "beer and hugs" situation, after she raised a ton of money for the tour anyway). Even if we eliminate the accounts of her being unpleasant to work with as pure hearsay, would you want to work with Amanda Palmer?

        If it means not supporting an artist directly, then I just plain don't think it's a problem. If you wouldn't enjoy an album, or a book, or a movie, or whatever if it featured someone who made you uncomfortable, I don't think you're obligated to consume it and pay for it anyway. With music, I think that's especially relevant, given how directly personal it is with a singer/songwriter. It's not cancel culture, it's not a boycott, it's people not buying something they don't want.

        On a related note, that's what happened with Zak Smith in the indie RPG scene: he had been an all-around dickhead for years, the (ginormous) straw that broke the camel's back was multiple credible rape accusations, and since then he's been thoroughly unapologetic and only dug in his heels. He still has other careers, and he still has fans who want to pay for his work; he's effectively "canceled" in that publishers don't want to work with him and people don't want to financially support him anymore. I would shorthand it by saying he was "canceled," I would have mixed feelings about calling it "cancel culture" (though I could see the argument), but I would in no way see this as a problem. Maybe it's because a small hobby feels more communal, but, frankly, good riddance.

        6 votes
        1. ibis
          Link Parent
          Yep I absolutely agree that people have every right to abandon artists or celebrities for any reason. After thinking about it and reading the responses to this thread, I think you and other...

          Yep I absolutely agree that people have every right to abandon artists or celebrities for any reason.

          After thinking about it and reading the responses to this thread, I think you and other posters are right in that my issues regarding the situation don't really have anything to do with 'cancel culture'. I think she has been cancelled to some degree, but it isn't undeserved.

          Idk if there is a catchy name for what I don't like about this situation. Basically when social media emboldens people to be way meaner then the situation warrants, and the scale of social media means that that meanness is amplified exponentially. Because the target of the harassment did genuinely do something bad, everyone gets to feel morally righteous about piling onto them.

          When the issue is about misogyny or racism (etc.) I can at least sympathise with posters, because their anger is valid, even if making a single person the scape goat for society's bigotry maybe isn't fair. I feel like the wider conversation that is prompted by these kinds of twitter storms is important, and it's a conversation we really need to have to move forward.

          But regarding Amanda Palmer, I mostly feel like her mistakes were on a personal level, and most people are taking the opportunity to harass her because she is generally kind of lame. She has done just enough wrong that twitter can feel morally righteous about piling onto a woman.

          4 votes
  2. [8]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    I appreciate you raising this question, as I think this is an important topic (the idea of "cancel culture", not Amanda Palmer specifically), and not one I see much valuable discussion on. I'm not...

    I appreciate you raising this question, as I think this is an important topic (the idea of "cancel culture", not Amanda Palmer specifically), and not one I see much valuable discussion on.

    I'm not heavily in favor of "cancel culture" as a term, as I feel like it plays to the worst parts of two narratives:

    • When invoked, it is often used to dismiss legitimate and deserved criticism.
    • When countered, it often dismisses actual bullying, abuse, and harassment.

    The video that @Grawlix posted in their comment does a good job of demonstrating the issues with the first narrative. Many of the people who are "cancelled" don't actually end up cancelled, and many of the times "cancel culture" is named are in response to legitimate critiques of abhorrent behavior. It often seems like it's merely shorthand not for "cancellation" of any sort, but for someone who doesn't want to take responsibility for their words or actions.

    The second narrative, however, is one that I don't see a lot of discussion of, and it's where my issues with excuses for "cancel culture" lie (and I should qualify that I say this as someone who often agrees with the aforementioned legitimate critiques being given). Online harassment is a huge problem for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is the scale in which it operates. For any reasonably popular figure, there are enough people commenting on their behavior that invariably some will use abusive, harassing, or bullying tactics. These, of course, occur alongside those making legitimate critiques, so it's easy to see how the waters are always muddy.

    When one side alleges the criticisms are fair, and the other alleges that the outcry is harassment, it's very likely that both are right because so much discourse is happening that you can easily find examples of both valid and abusive posts. Furthermore, for the target of the discourse, the messaging skews heavily towards the perception of abuse, even if there is genuinely very little of it. Messages aimed at or about individuals don't arrive in neat little piles, sorted by whether or not they're abusive -- they come in a giant flow, all mixed together, but you can bet the abusive ones stand out more.

    I hate that I'm sounding very "both sides are the same!" with this argument, as that's not my intention, and I'm very much trying to avoid aligning this to any sort of political ideology because I think that's also another one of my issues with the term "cancel culture" in general. It seems to be primarily used by the right in talking about the left, but I'm someone who experienced a mild harassment moment that consisted mostly of right-aligned people trying to silence me because they thought I was a woman. Was this "cancel culture" from the right? It sure felt like it!

    I think because of the unfortunate partisan tilt it's acquired, we can't really adequately pull it apart as we should. If I come in here and affirm the idea that I think "cancel culture" is a real thing, I look like I'm buying into an alt-right talking point, but if I come in here and deny its existence, I'm permitting online abuse to go unchecked.

    Rather than dive into the Amanda Palmer case, I'm going to bring up one I came across recently that hasn't sat well with me. YouTuber Natalie Wynn, of the channel ContraPoints, recently faced a lot of backlash after her most recent video. In attempting to understand the controversy, I came across this tweet thread (article version -- thanks @tomf!). It was very well received on Twitter with 1.1K retweets, 2.5K likes, and plenty of supportive responses thanking the author for what they said.

    I bring up this particular example because it seems to me to be emblematic of the friction embedded within the larger idea of "cancel culture." Whether or not this particular person's complaints are valid, their communication of them is undeniably abusive. In reading through it, almost every one of my abuser-sense red flags went up. If I witnessed anyone act this way to someone else in real life, I would immediately encourage that individual to cut all ties and get out immediately, for their own safety. It's that bad.

    Yet it was also upheld and recirculated by thousands. Were those thousands sharing it as affirmation? Was this seized upon by people who just wanted to stir the pot? Whatever their motivations were doesn't really matter, as the outcome was that this was one of the complaints against Natalie that received the largest audience. Clearly the intended message is to confront Natalie about her perceived discrimination against non-binary people and association with someone considered by many to be transphobic. This is a legitimate critique, but it was conveyed using abuse as a mechanism, and then supported and spread within the surrounding community.

    So, which of those lenses should win out? Is this valid discourse or not? I think it depends on who you talk to and where you stand, which, to me, is the root of the problem with this whole thing. For years I've seen abuse championed as truth when it aligns with people's political beliefs, and I've seen mere critique called abuse when it doesn't. We seem to apply different standards to harassment for the purposes of political and social expediency, and I find that fundamentally unsettling. It also comes back to the scale problem, which can't be ignored because it's also foundational. When even one person says something mean, aggressive, or abusive, it undoubtedly has an effect on us, but when those types of messages can be amplified through networks, it gives them a social power that was unheard of before the internet. Imagine having someone openly abuse you, then watching as thousands of people endorse it and thousands more share it with their friends. No matter who you are or what you believe, that's an incredibly tough pill to swallow.

    I think our capability to socially harm others has never been greater, and I think little effort is being given to address our responsibility within that framework. It's no secret that sites that value engagement thrive on conflict, and Twitter no doubt loves when threads like the one I linked blow up. Is "cancel culture" just a symptom of a social network that has a vested financial interest in starting and stoking social fires? Is it a fault in us for secretly appreciating harassment when it's targeted at people we don't like? Do some people actually deserve the abuse or harassment they receive based on their abhorrent actions? I don't know.

    I genuinely don't know.

    7 votes
    1. [7]
      ibis
      Link Parent
      I read through some of the twitter thread you linked. I'm an outsider when it comes to the specific tiff that's going on here, so I can't comment on if the poster's argument is accurate/justified...

      I came across this tweet thread (article version -- thanks @tomf!). It was very well received on Twitter with 1.1K retweets, 2.5K likes, and plenty of supportive responses thanking the author for what they said.

      I bring up this particular example because it seems to me to be emblematic of the friction embedded within the larger idea of "cancel culture." Whether or not this particular person's complaints are valid, their communication of them is undeniably abusive. In reading through it, almost every one of my abuser-sense red flags went up. If I witnessed anyone act this way to someone else in real life, I would immediately encourage that individual to cut all ties and get out immediately, for their own safety. It's that bad.

      ...Is this valid discourse or not?

      I read through some of the twitter thread you linked. I'm an outsider when it comes to the specific tiff that's going on here, so I can't comment on if the poster's argument is accurate/justified or not.

      But in regards to 'abusive' discourse, I think some situations warrant anger, and that people should not be dismissed for displaying emotion when making an argument (even if that anger sounds abusive). Some of the content in the tweets include the outing of someone against their will - a situation that could have resulted in violence and death. Anger is a human response to injustice like that. The poster swears a lot, but otherwise makes a coherent argument that is based on concrete events/quotes that can be fact checked.

      Of course, there are plenty of situations where anger is not justified as well. But to be honest, I don't think swearing makes bigotry worse. If anything, I am more frustrated by bigotry when it is presented clinically with a performance of being 'reasonable' or 'factual'.

      I specifically chose the Palmer situation as an example because it is a personal tiff between two people. The only people who really should be angry about it is the journalist who has been harassed, and maybe people who might have been in a similar situation or who feel an emotional connection to the journalist. Anyone else who is getting abusive over this is probably isn't justified.

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Similarly, I know little about the Amanda Palmer situation which was why I avoided going into it specifically. If I had to give a brief comment on it, it would simply be that, if you're someone...

        Similarly, I know little about the Amanda Palmer situation which was why I avoided going into it specifically. If I had to give a brief comment on it, it would simply be that, if you're someone with a significant number of followers, then calling out a specific individual is something that should only be done with the most extreme caution. Naming and shaming someone, for whatever reason, to the million(!!!) people who subscribe to your tweets is something you absolutely cannot take back and that is absolutely likely to have significant repercussions. Of course, doing so doesn't warrant abuse. Often in these situations for me it doesn't boil down to which side is right and which side is wrong, as I often find myself thinking many people are acting irresponsibly all around. This is the impression I got from her situation.

        I also think you've brought up an important point here and in your other posts regarding people who aren't party to the disagreement piling on. Conflict becomes participatory rather than witnessed, causing singular interpersonal tiffs to blow up into all out culture wars. There's another layer here, in that such explosions are how attention is aggregated, so techniques like this can be used as hidden/subversive marketing. I hadn't heard of Amanda Palmer in years, and now I know all about what she's up to and how I could engage with her work. It's hard to know if that's her intention, but it's definitely the outcome regardless.

        With regard to speaking from anger, I agree that it is often warranted, and I agree that critiquing people for speaking from within their anger is often limiting and counterproductive. Unfortunately, I also think this principle gets overextended and a lot of abusive behavior gets excused because of it.

        The thread I linked is, to me, a perfect example of this. i didn't find it abusive simply because the author uses "fuck" a lot or is speaking with an angry tone. I found it abusive because it outright uses multiple abusive tactics:

        • Minimization of good qualities/amplification of flaws: This is often the "you can't do anything right/you're always messing things up" thrust of abusers. Abusers won't allow their victims to be whole human beings and instead hyperfocus on their "errors" because it helps with...

        • Justification of harm: While attacking, an abuser will often make their victim feel responsible for the damage. This is the "you deserve this" message embedded in their abuse, which coincides with...

        • Minimization of harm: They will often downplay their level of harm: "it didn't hurt THAT much." This can go even further and reach...

        • Reversal of harm: An abuser will often outright invert the attack to make themselves appear to be the victim. This is the "YOU are actually the one hurting ME" or "I'm hurting you only because you hurt me" tack that abusers take.

        • Controlling behavior: Abusers attempt to dictate the terms of their victim's life, often by delineating who they can or cannot associate with, or telling them what they actually believe or think even when it's contrary to their own self-disclosure.

        An important thing to remember with abusers is that "valid" complaints can often be a misdirection, as abusers are often great at manufacturing these seemingly legitimate reasons as justification for their abuse. They want to look reasonable, even sympathetic at times, because it helps their abuse go unchecked and unadressed.

        I won't pick apart the specifics of this person's complaint against Natalie, but I will note that, as a whole, it tripped every single one of the above flags for me. Significantly. If anyone is having trouble seeing that aspect, I highly encourage you to re-read and look for those specific elements. I also encourage you to re-read it as if this person were Natalie's friend, roommate, or romantic partner. Imagine this person sharing a physical space with Natalie, and let that texture your processing of what they have to say. I wasn't exaggerating when I said I would tell someone to get out for their own safety. It is unconditionally abusive to me.

        That said, you pointed out something that I think is very important and that I don't want to leave unaddressed. You brought up the detail of outing someone against their will, which is absolutely awful -- especially at the time that it happened (2006) and who it happened to (a public figure). This is abhorrent, however this is then used as a direct critique of Natalie specifically. She didn't do it, wasn't party to it, never endorsed it, and wasn't even aware of it when she briefly collaborated with the individual who did. This, to me, was actually another of the details that triggered my abuser-sense, as it felt less like an honest critique of Natalie and more like a way of finding the worst way to frame her so that the abuse can appear warranted (i.e. amplification of flaws, reversal of harm).

        Ultimately, this thread is merely one example in what has been a larger trend that has unsettled me for a long time now. My complaint isn't actually about this one particular thread but about the broad pattern of abusive behavior being valued and supported online. I've watched it happen for years, and it's what drove me off of social media years ago. Tildes is actually my return to internet discourse after a years-long break, because I was so tired of being a powerless witness to widespread harassment being cheered on by thousands.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          vivaria
          Link Parent
          Do you have any good resources for recognizing abusive tactics? Some of the categories you've listed remind me of those useful infographics on cognitive biases... In the sense that, certain...

          I found it abusive because it outright uses multiple abusive tactics:

          Do you have any good resources for recognizing abusive tactics? Some of the categories you've listed remind me of those useful infographics on cognitive biases... In the sense that, certain phrases seem like normal conversation unless you've trained yourself to spot them as what they are. And I feel like this is the sort of thing I'd want to practice looking out for (in both myself and others)!

          4 votes
          1. kfwyre
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I searched around and while I was able to find lots of different resources, I wasn't able to find a great sort of "one-stop shop" for this kind of stuff. The best one I found in my wanderings was...

            I searched around and while I was able to find lots of different resources, I wasn't able to find a great sort of "one-stop shop" for this kind of stuff.

            The best one I found in my wanderings was here.1 The linked checklist is good, but what I think is really valuable is the list of related posts at the bottom.2 Each one has a small snapshot of a tactic or technique, and most of them seem to be explained well. For example, take this one about "Off-Limits". This, I think, fits your idea of something that can seem normal but that can also be identified as abuser behavior in the right context.

            It's also important to remember that abuse often comes with a "rescuer" phase, which is something that was absent from my post but that is hugely important. It's often easy to recognize outright abusive behaviors, but abusers will often then "change course" and become loving, doting, or apologetic. Those, from an outside and even inside perspective, look great! He's changing his ways! She's making up for what she did! They're repairing the relationship! While this can and does happen in non-abusive relationships, in abusive ones it's another control tactic.

            For example, let's say an abuser, to make up for his abuse, buys their partner a bunch of lavish or thoughtful gifts. This is the rescuer phase, where the abuser is playing the role of a good partner. Their victim will likely feel genuine support and love. Unfortunately, this gives the abuser the ability to turn those gifts and affection into leverage. "I bought you that _____ that you wanted and you can't even ______." Or "If I didn't love you I wouldn't spend all my money on you." Or "No one else will treat you as good as I treat you."

            I think part of the reason I can't find a single great resource on abuse is that it's a complicated topic that takes a lot of different forms. As such, I encourage you to search around and absorb information from lots of different sources. As I was looking for sites, I kept finding a good piece here and a great thought there, but I couldn't find all the good stuff under one roof.


            1. Obligatory disclaimer that my mention of this site isn't an endorsement of this particular service (I know nothing about it).
            2. I wasn't able to find a better index of posts other than these assembled related links. The "Abuse" category on the main site is a collection of articles that felt less focused than the ones in this link. If anyone finds a better "menu" on the site, let me know.

            3 votes
        2. [3]
          ibis
          Link Parent
          Ok I think I have a much better idea of your point now, and I see that I misinterpreted your issues with the linked tweet thread. I thought you meant verbal abuse, but I think you are more...

          Ok I think I have a much better idea of your point now, and I see that I misinterpreted your issues with the linked tweet thread. I thought you meant verbal abuse, but I think you are more concerned about emotional abuse.

          The thing is, a pillar of emotion abuse is power. The abuser simply must hold some kind of power over their victim for their tactics to have any effect. Hypothetically, I could easily cover all the abuse tactics you raised in one rant about Donald Trump. Does that mean I'm abusing him? maybe verbally, but not emotionally. If Donald Trump was my friend, roommate, or romantic partner (ew) then yeah, I guess it means my rant could be emotional abuse. But the context is so different, I don't think it's a useful thought exercise!

          We discuss the errors that influential people make in the context of the harm it causes, because they wield the power to cause harm. Donald Trump might have good qualities as well - but that isn't relevant to me if he is causing me harm. I don't really care very much about Donald Trump the human being. I care about Donald Trump the president and media personality.

          I don't want to make a hard judgement regarding the thread you linked, but I do feel sympathetic to the poster. I don't think they care about Natalie the human being (although they do make some concessions on that topic). I think that they are angry at Natalie the social media influencer, and how she is using her social capital to harm their community. I understand Natalie's position that it is hard to be held up to such a high standard, especially since she didn't ever necessarily consider herself as 'leftist' in the first place. But that doesn't change the fact that now she has power, she will face more scrutiny, because her decisions have a real impact on the cultural spaces she inhabits.

          Regarding the outing of someone against their will, I think the main critique of Natalie is that she ignored it completely. She was specifically addressing the controversy regarding Buck Angel - she began by spending a long time talking about his good points, and then she characterised his problematic points as purely ideological. She did not bring up the issue of him outing someone against their will at all. To me, it seems like Natalie used her platform and her social capital to mis-characterise the controversy, and I can completely understand why someone with a smaller platform would find that extremely frustrating.

          4 votes
          1. kfwyre
            Link Parent
            Great points all around. Thanks for taking the time to engage with me, especially on such a fraught and nuanced topic. This is absolutely the kind of topic I wouldn't even attempt to engage with...

            Great points all around. Thanks for taking the time to engage with me, especially on such a fraught and nuanced topic. This is absolutely the kind of topic I wouldn't even attempt to engage with elsewhere on the internet out of fear that it would derail before it starts, so I don't take your responses for granted. I very much appreciate the thought and perspective you're bringing to the table, both with me and in your other comments here. I feel like we're both trying to pull on the same thread but from different angles.

            You're absolutely right that power is central to abuse, and you're absolutely right that most people speaking like this have no power over the people that they're speaking to in a strict sense, but I think that's where the problems of scale that I mentioned in my first post come in. This person didn't act in a vacuum and their words were amplified by people on Twitter, which does give them some power?

            Of course, we can say the same of Natalie, and I look at her much in the same way that I look at Amanda: whether or not she wanted to acquire the following she did, she now has it and has a commensurate responsibility to act with that in mind. I didn't focus on her not because she's above reproach or anything like that but simply because, when confronted with behavior I considered outright abusive, I did want that to escape scrutiny by changing focus, especially because that's a common way that abusers dodge accountability.

            I also don't want you to think I'm unsympathetic to the person who posted the tweet thread. I absolutely get where they are coming from. The person that spoke with that anger is no doubt in a difficult life situation. Furthermore, we know that abuse is often perpetuated by people that have experienced abuse and oppression themselves. One of its most insidious traits is that it can be invisible to the people perpetuating it because that is how they themselves were treated, though we have to be careful not to excuse it. When abuse is normalized it can be unconsciously executed, but the person executing the abuse is still responsible for their behavior. It's not that I fundamentally disagree with their assertions, as I saw many other people make many similar points that I think are valid, but the difference for me is that the other people didn't use abusive tactics to do so.

            Also, despite my criticisms of their messaging, I still wish the best for them. I don't want to simply "cancel" this individual just because they did a "bad thing." I want them to be able to experience a happy, comfortable, safe life, and based on their disclosure, they face many unfair roadblocks to these, many of which are out of their control. I get that. I'm sympathetic to it. I've been there myself. I just want this person and everyone else watching to know that abuse is not the way out of that.

            Your example of Donald Trump is prescient, because I think he's absolutely the most emblematic icon of this conversation. He's awful, abhorrent, and regularly triggers my abuser-sense so much that he has flat out broken the meter. He, probably more than anyone else, has normalized abusive practices online, and, consequently, abusive practices about him have exploded. He is widely considered "fair game" for the most vitriolic, spiteful takedowns, and as much as I agree with the thrust of all of those arguments, I still think they're abusive -- even though the target of them is awful, has done awful things, and is a widespread, continued source of harm, instability, and detriment for so many out there, myself included.

            He's as close to an evil cartoon caricature as we can come which makes complaints, even abusive ones, feel fair, but I worry when we shift others into that same framework. Ignoring Donald Trump as an outlier and lightning rod for the moment, I believe that most everyone has human complexity and depth to their lives. Most everyone has good traits and deserves their own individual dignity. Most everyone is flawed and will make mistakes, mess up, and hurt others in the process. When we focus only on that last part as a way of consuming or rewriting their entire character, we're reintegrating a form of objectification we've worked hard, for so long, to counter and dismantle.

            We turn people into constellations of their worst moments only, and then we turn around and tell them they deserve the widespread hate they're facing because of it. We don't allow people to learn and grow from mistakes. The elephant memory of the internet helps us insist that who you were then is who you are now no matter how much time has passed, but it's a process that only happens with negativity. I don't ever see people digging through profiles to find positive information on individuals. A tweet from 2013 never makes the news or recirculates on Twitter because it's kind; only because it's outrageous. We make individuals into commodities, attack their weak points to take them down, and then dance with our friends on the graves of their spirit.

            I left Facebook and reddit in 2016 because I felt like I was watching every social landscape I knew burn down in flames. Hostility, unkindness, and harassment were front and center. It's now been years since then, and these principles have calcified to the point that I worry that people think this is now normal and how people should conduct themselves. We can't interrogate and counter abuses of power without the raw, often searing truths that come from the anger of the oppressed, but we also can't allow for abusive discourse to be excused, much less supported, simply because it comes from anger.

            Doing so gives an "escape clause" to instances of abuse. This yields the "he didn't really mean what he said" excuse that you often hear from victims or enablers. One of the important principles for abuse is that the abuser is responsible for their own behavior. Regardless of the factors that go into it and regardless of their intentions, they are the ones managing their own actions. For as much as I dislike Donald Trump and for as much harm as he has done, if I choose to go off on him in a comment here in an abusive way, that is because I took that action.

            Furthermore, if harm done becomes an acceptable threshhold for abuse, then we simply perpetuate an abusive cycle. It's the transparent irony of using abuse to call out abuse. If abuse is warranted because of harm done, then this creates a new harm that subsequently warrants abuse, and so on and so forth. My main worry, amidst everything I've shared here, is that I think this has become a sort of fundamental truth of internet discourse: if I can identify a legitimate grievance against someone, I can open the door to abusing them with impunity. In doing so, I'm opening myself up to the same criticism from others, though this turnabout rarely seems to be acknowledged, as most people consider the harm they do to be valid and the harm they receive to be unconscionable. It's mutually assured destruction for the internet age -- everyone's cutting everyone else down while simultaneously feeling justified in doing so.

            4 votes
          2. Greg
            Link Parent
            Words have huge power, and seeing them amplified by thousands of anonymous voices is a genuinely scary thing even as a passive onlooker. I can hardly imagine what it's like for the target - the...

            Words have huge power, and seeing them amplified by thousands of anonymous voices is a genuinely scary thing even as a passive onlooker. I can hardly imagine what it's like for the target - the individual who has to read what's said about them (and it almost always is said about them, even if it might be meant about their public persona or platform), know that thousands of people think that about them, and know that it's also probably been read by everyone they are close to and care about as well. That alone could absolutely shatter a person's self esteem.

            Trump is something of an outlier in that he uses Twitter to encourage and engage in the direct and intentional victimisation of others; that gives at least some basis to suggest that he could deserve the same, although many people would still argue against this kind of "eye for an eye" justice.

            Almost anyone else - anyone who meets the almost comically low bar of "not intentionally inciting a mob" while still remaining a public figure - has their emotional well-being held at the mercy of the internet at large. There might not necessarily be external consequences, but there's every chance that the words of strangers can have a profound, lasting impact on the person they are said about.

            4 votes
  3. [9]
    cwagner
    (edited )
    Link
    I have no idea what cancel culture is (I stay out of the dumbfuckery that is twitter), but from what I’ve seen from the links, it looks like Amanda was trying to start an enraged mob with made-up...

    I have no idea what cancel culture is (I stay out of the dumbfuckery that is twitter), but from what I’ve seen from the links, it looks like Amanda was trying to start an enraged mob with made-up drama to boost her sales and nothing else?

    edit: is -> was
    edit2: moved "is" in front of the bracket

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      It should be noted that the phrase "cancel culture" was invented by right wing pundents in order to make their ideas seem less extreme and to make the left wing seem like maniacs who silence...

      It should be noted that the phrase "cancel culture" was invented by right wing pundents in order to make their ideas seem less extreme and to make the left wing seem like maniacs who silence everything they don't agree with. It's in our best interest to not propigate its usage.

      9 votes
      1. alexandria
        Link Parent
        I believe the term comes from an sjw term that caught on (and I'm not using that word pejoratively, as I am an sjw) termed 'cancelling'. You're right that 'cancel culture' is a right-wing term, I...

        I believe the term comes from an sjw term that caught on (and I'm not using that word pejoratively, as I am an sjw) termed 'cancelling'. You're right that 'cancel culture' is a right-wing term, I believe there are some alternatives including 'accountability culture' which (among other things) make it easier to communicate to non-online people what is actually happening.

        3 votes
    2. [6]
      ibis
      Link Parent
      My impression is that her main goal was to promote her article and paint the self-funded coverage as brave and triumphant rather than pathetic. I think she cast the guardian as villains as a means...

      My impression is that her main goal was to promote her article and paint the self-funded coverage as brave and triumphant rather than pathetic. I think she cast the guardian as villains as a means to an end - a plot device in the narrative she had concocted.

      There’s no doubt in my mind that Palmer was in the wrong. But I’m stuck because I can’t decide if this pile on is punching up or down. I always feel a little uncomfortable when a mob turns on an individual, but I do note that Palmer was pretty careless about potentially causing a mob to harass that journalist so idk, maybe she’s getting what she deserves.

      3 votes
      1. cwagner
        Link Parent
        Ah, I see. I misunderstood your question. In that case I have even less interest in the whole thing as I don’t really care what pigs do when playing in the mud ;) I long ago stopped caring about...

        Ah, I see. I misunderstood your question. In that case I have even less interest in the whole thing as I don’t really care what pigs do when playing in the mud ;) I long ago stopped caring about idiots and I live in my cozy home-made bubble where those that want to stir up drama are simply not allowed.

        3 votes
      2. [4]
        JXM
        Link Parent
        Really? I don't see anything in her thread that indicates that she was inciting people to harass a journalist. All she did was say that The Guardian didn't cover her new album and tour. And I'm...

        I do note that Palmer was pretty careless about potentially causing a mob to harass that journalist

        Really? I don't see anything in her thread that indicates that she was inciting people to harass a journalist. All she did was say that The Guardian didn't cover her new album and tour.

        And I'm generally one who thinks we need to read between the lines a bit when it comes to talk show host or internet personalities telling their followers to go harass someone, since they hardly ever give a direct command.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Diet_Coke
          Link Parent
          Read the journalist's response, it sounds like she was in a pretty unpleasant situation herself.

          Read the journalist's response, it sounds like she was in a pretty unpleasant situation herself.

          3 votes
          1. JXM
            Link Parent
            I agree, it's a shitty situation for the reporter. Laura Snapes' version makes Palmer look much worse. From this Tweet: Did I miss this happening? I haven't seen anything about this.

            I agree, it's a shitty situation for the reporter. Laura Snapes' version makes Palmer look much worse.

            From this Tweet:

            She recently became fixated by this and asked her 1m fans to find out why I had.

            Did I miss this happening? I haven't seen anything about this.

            2 votes
        2. ibis
          Link Parent
          I actually agree with you, which is why I labeled her careless rather than malicious. I don’t think she was deliberately trying to harass anyone. But she has a million followers and she was just...

          I actually agree with you, which is why I labeled her careless rather than malicious. I don’t think she was deliberately trying to harass anyone.

          But she has a million followers and she was just specific enough for them to potentially figure out who she was talking about, and imo the journalist did nothing wrong. So that’s why I label Palmer as careless about potentially causing an mob herself.

          3 votes
  4. [4]
    JXM
    Link
    This is absolutely not cancel culture. "Cancel Culture" is specficially saying you're not going to buy someone's products for their extremely bad past (or current) behavior. She hasn't done...

    This is absolutely not cancel culture. "Cancel Culture" is specficially saying you're not going to buy someone's products for their extremely bad past (or current) behavior. She hasn't done anything egregious, like sexually harass someone or be abusive to her followers.

    This is just regular old bandwagoning. People see someone getting attacked and join in so they can feel like they are part of the crowd.

    As for the actual content, I read her Twitter thread and I think she had an extremely smart idea. If no one wanted to cover her tour and album, that's fine. She can just give her fans the inside scoop directly. I'm genuinely not sure why people are so upset. I can see how you might think she sounds entitled, but it didn't come off that way to me at all as I was reading the thread.

    But it seems like the Twitter mob has made up their mind and are just piling on.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      tindall
      Link Parent
      This just... sounds like a boycott. Is what people are calling "cancel culture" just boycotts?

      "Cancel Culture" is specficially saying you're not going to buy someone's products for their extremely bad past (or current) behavior.

      This just... sounds like a boycott. Is what people are calling "cancel culture" just boycotts?

      5 votes
      1. JXM
        Link Parent
        Basically, yes. But "cancel culture" also seeks to sort of wipe those people from the cultural map.

        Basically, yes. But "cancel culture" also seeks to sort of wipe those people from the cultural map.

        4 votes
    2. ibis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      edit: I've changed my mind about this. see here I disagree, I think the term “cancelled” was originally (semi-jokingly) used to describe this exact situation, and that is where the term “cancel-...

      edit: I've changed my mind about this. see here

      I disagree, I think the term “cancelled” was originally (semi-jokingly) used to describe this exact situation, and that is where the term “cancel- culture” originally came from.

      Maybe all the discourse has muddied the meaning we attach to the word, but back in the day, “cancelling” someone on social media just meant that they were no longer liked by the majority. It wasn’t supposed to be taken literally it was a joke.

      1 vote
  5. knocklessmonster
    Link
    It's not cancel culture, it's just Amanda Palmer being Amanda Palmer. She's always doing crap like this, jumping to bad conclusions, coming up with bad ideas, and then behaving as if she hadn't...

    It's not cancel culture, it's just Amanda Palmer being Amanda Palmer. She's always doing crap like this, jumping to bad conclusions, coming up with bad ideas, and then behaving as if she hadn't done anything controversial. It's how she gets her name out there.

    6 votes
  6. DanBC
    Link
    There's a spectrum of online abuse, and "pile ons" can transform into "cancel". Jon Ronson has written about online shame campaigns, and some of these saw people losing their jobs....

    There's a spectrum of online abuse, and "pile ons" can transform into "cancel".

    Jon Ronson has written about online shame campaigns, and some of these saw people losing their jobs. http://www.jonronson.com/shame.html

    So, at the moment it feels more like pile on than cancel, because Palmer is still recording and releasing music, she's still touring, people are still selling her music, and people are still reviewing her music although the gruaniad hasn't reviewed this most recent release. If people started saying "you know what, she's toxic enough that we can't be bothered with the drama fallout and we're not going to review / sell / book Palmer anymore" then I feel that would be cancel culture.

    5 votes
  7. [3]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Can someone give an explanation about what is going on in this link for someone who's not in the states or in an English speaking country?

    Can someone give an explanation about what is going on in this link for someone who's not in the states or in an English speaking country?

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      ibis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Amanda Palmer wrote a twitter thread about how her and her tour/album was being ignored by the media, and how she rose up against them by hiring her own journalist to come on tour with her and...

      Amanda Palmer wrote a twitter thread about how her and her tour/album was being ignored by the media, and how she rose up against them by hiring her own journalist to come on tour with her and write a long form article about it. As part of this narrative, she alluded to a particular journalist at the guardian who has her blocked on twitter, and who apparently made disparaging comments about her in an article. She implied that the guardian is not covering her because this one particular journalist just doesn't like her.

      In a separate thread, the journalist in question provided her version of events. She claims that Amanda Palmer has been harassing her over the last month - eg. trying to meet with her, getting her hired journalist to question her, sending her invites, tweeting to her 1m fans about her. Since I posted the thread, this interview with Palmer came out that frankly makes her sound insane
      pg1: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EKEuH4yX0AEezy7?format=jpg&name=large
      pg2: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EKEuH4JXkAk2NDS?format=jpg&name=large

      For some context, Palmer got a lot of hate on twitter a few years ago because she was paying her supporting musicians with 'hugs and beer' after crowd funding loads of money to tour and record. Apparently this is why the journalist first had a spat with Palmer years ago and blocked her.

      So Twitter has turned against Palmer for behaving badly, but mostly, I think, for generally being kind of lame.

      5 votes
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        Thanks. You could make some money translating Twitter to "old people talk".

        Thanks. You could make some money translating Twitter to "old people talk".

        2 votes
  8. krg
    Link
    I don't understand why a tiff between a couple of people needs to be made and carried out in public. I can kinda understand why unrelated people want to spew their take...it's kinda like the...

    I don't understand why a tiff between a couple of people needs to be made and carried out in public.

    I can kinda understand why unrelated people want to spew their take...it's kinda like the audience boo-ing on The Jerry Springer show, or something..

    ..and now I'm watching best-of Jerry Springer compilations..

    1 vote
  9. [2]
    mrbig
    Link
    I would love a website that transforms chains of tweets into a single readable thing. I'm old.

    I would love a website that transforms chains of tweets into a single readable thing.

    I'm old.

    2 votes
  10. skybrian
    Link
    I think this question is confusing two unclear things and should be rephrased or maybe split in two. If you really want to talk about Amanda Palmer, maybe reword the question to ask whatever you...

    I think this question is confusing two unclear things and should be rephrased or maybe split in two. If you really want to talk about Amanda Palmer, maybe reword the question to ask whatever you want ask without using "cancel culture?" Or you could just straight up ask what "cancel culture" means if you're more interested in the semiotics of political name-calling.

    1 vote