• The Low Down

Cancel culture alive and well in the Hills

The Editor,


Loyal Low Down readers might recall a letter to the editor I wrote in 2019 called a “Plea for Peace” (November 18 edition). It was the result of some nasty and, frankly, bullying posts on Wakefield Folks [Facebook group] about people parking badly at the drugstore, not getting their snow tires done early, and people who write bad editorials. Not to reprint the whole thing here, but Wakefield used to be a place where we made a mistake, we fessed up and apologized, and made good. If we were offended, we spoke about it — we called the neighbour who pissed us off or the long-time friend who effed up to say, “Hey, that was dumb but let’s still be neighbours, or friends, or at least be on nodding terms.” We are a small village after all. We run into each other in stores, on the street, at the market. We owe it to each other to tolerate our differences and create a community where we can all live in peace, if not in kindness and fellowship. Or at least that’s what I have always thought was important in a small community. I thought it was important to others too.


But Wakefield (and Chelsea) have become places where some people (not all, thank goodness) have somehow turned into the worst sort of bullies — engaging in cancel culture and the shunning of individuals rather than talking it out and moving on.


It began in 2019 on Wakefield Folks, and generated my first editorial. For those who are unaware, cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming. I’m very sad to note that this horrifying campaign did not end on social media in 2019. It is continuing today, in person, and is crushing, not companies, but people. It is a sad day indeed for Wakefield/Chelsea when we are friendlier and kinder to a stranger in Wakefield, U.K. than we are to our own neighbours and friends. I thought we were bigger than that, kinder and more tolerant. I was wrong.


Another plea: next time you go out in the street, remember to smile (you can see this in the eyes, though our mouths are covered), nod at your neighbours, look them in the eye, even if you can’t bring yourself to talk to them. Life is too short and precious to hold hate and angry grudges for such a long time. The person you are shunning right now could be you. We’re all human, after all, and we all occasionally screw up, but we are ultimately all connected. I hope that none of you, or those you love, ever have to personally experience cancel culture. It is brutal, unforgiving, and destructive.


Laurie Burdon

Wakefield, Quebec