Dear Grandparenting: I’ve seen my granddaughter when we had to put her dog down. I’ve seen her when her very best friend had to move across the country because her father got a better job. I’ve seen her when her first serious boyfriend dumped her at a party.
But I’ve never seen my granddaughter so miserable as now. This is the explanation I got from her mother: “It’s called the cancel culture. Her friends turned on her. They cut her off and wouldn’t even look at her, like she wasn’t there. It’s like they wanted to make she disappear.”
She doesn’t know what she did wrong. If she reaches out to old friends, she gets back bunches of nasty messages about how she annoys them or thinks she’s so special. Everyone piled on, like she’d been hit by an avalanche.
My granddaughter has been stuck in this funk for weeks. My main concern is that she’ll start to believe that she is bad and actually deserves all this abuse. That kind of self-image can ruin her for life. What next? Bea Gunderson, Jacksonville, Florida
Dear Bea: What began as an Internet-specific method of censure has evolved into a catch-all phrase describing the penalty meted out by segments of society to those deemed offensive or problematic.
The cancel culture is a modern cultural boycott targeting young and old alike. No one is immune from the Internet mob. Life goes on for “cancelled” celebrities who shrug off criticism — Bill Gates and Taylor Swift, or Presidents Obama and Trump. But adolescents and teenagers are more vulnerable. Robbed of their social support system, kids can sink into sustained anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The cancel culture threat can make grandchildren think twice before expressing potentially unpopular opinions or standing up for what they think is right. And instead of being able to learn and grow from an honest mistake, they are left to twist slowly in the wind.
Adults must to step up and teach America’s youth that missteps and different points of view do not automatically justify silencing offending voices or blocking them out. The ability to talk through our differences is a critical life skill already in seriously short supply.
Grand remark of the week
Maggie Burger from Everett, Washington was trying to teach grandson Derek about good manners.
Having spent nearly 30 minutes on the do’s and don’ts of “Please” and “Thank you,” Maggie figured Derek was ready for a treat and offered him some ice cream with butterscotch sauce topping.
“Now don’t forget what to say,” she told him.
“Yes, please, hurry, thank you,” said Derek.