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Are YOU at risk of being cancelled?


If you think canceling culture only affects those who are high profile or wealthy, think again.

Everyone is at risk of being held accountable and publicly ‘expelled’ if we make certain mistakes, especially if we have an unbridled approach to expressing our bold opinions online.

And while we may only see the headliners like Roald Dahl’s children’s books or Tom Jones’ song Delilah cancel, it’s still bubbling beneath the surface.

Whether it’s your strong comments on a local Facebook group, your TikTok video backfiring, or “chat” in a WhatsApp group at work, things can get serious pretty quickly these days.

And before you know it, you’ll be making headlines.

If you think canceling culture only affects those who are high profile or wealthy, think again. It can happen to anyone who expresses strong opinions online (stock image)

While cancellation culture can be a great tool for the marginalized as a vehicle for victims to speak out against abusers, it can also be a relentless online frenzy where we pick up on other people’s mistakes and our compassion flies out the door.

Here, Roz Sheldon, the managing director of Igniyte, a UK-based corporate reputation management agency, reveals whether you’re at risk, how to avoid it – and a possible way back if you find yourself being cancelled.

How the cancel culture works

If what you say online is strong enough to offend someone, you risk being canceled. That is, other people who take offense to your comments and let you and everyone else know about them (including possibly your employer).

Your ill-conceived posts can gain momentum. The more people comment on it or share your post or video online, the social media algorithms will work to get it seen by more pairs of eyes – and it can become very popular very quickly.

Then chances are if what you said or did offended some people, it will offend others – or others will jump on the bandwagon and see that as the “right” thing to do.

If that then goes viral, things get out of hand – and the chances of it being picked up by the media increase, escalating the problem.

If the original poster is a business owner, staff member, or stakeholder, it will impact their brand, their job, their staff, or their fans – and it could impact their career or product (sometimes long-term). term). The domino effect is often huge financial losses.

In many cases, this can be seen as justice – if someone is found to be sexist, racist, homophobic, or physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive, then that person being canceled can be considered vindicated. Cancellation culture definitely has its place here. It can be a great tool for positive social change.

But often at Igniyte we work with individuals who have had their reputation and livelihood permanently damaged by circumstances in the ‘grey area’.

These could be allegations about a celebrity that became fact without a full investigation, a side of the story of an event assumed to be true, or overreactions to offensive “jokes.”

Besides culture being about people revealing their true nature, it’s also about people making honest mistakes – which is then reinforced by a negative online pile.

It is a modern stock and gallows.

The types of social media posts that will be red flags for employers, and why

Companies are cracking down on the people they hire by scouring social media for the kinds of comments you make online. If you look like a toxic, controversial person, your potential future boss will give you a wide berth.

With that in mind, don’t be seen as posting anything that appears to be racially motivated, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic.

You may have certain opinions about groups of people and how they live their lives – and you are entitled to your opinion (whether wrong or right) – but consider how what you post online may be viewed by others.

Most companies do not want to be associated with any employee controversy.

Why it’s important to pause before posting

Let’s say you’re thinking about posting something about a topic that you know will divide people. Or you’re really annoyed by what someone else posted, and you feel the need to defend or challenge something.

Before you throw caution to the wind over “free speech,” pause and fast-forward to the possible outcome. Is it really worth it?

Be careful not to come across as an online troll. Don’t be seen as an online bully. Because if you cross the border, you will be scolded.

What is safe to post

So what’s the advice to post, in the age of creating a great ‘online self’ and personal branding?

Be your authentic self for sure, and if that means having strong opinions online or being tense, all credit to you.

Be careful not to enter the territory of always being “controversial” or posting your unchecked political or social views, unaware that they could negatively damage your career if employers don’t appreciate your approach. Politics and in-depth debates are often best conducted offline.

My professional advice is to always keep posts and comments fairly light-hearted, and if you want to make a political or social statement, try your best to make your posts as professional, well-researched, objective, and friendly as possible.

The benefits of canceling culture on your reputation – and the negatives

On the rare occasion when you’re known for being really controversial and that’s how you make a living, it’s only natural to be on the receiving end of backlash. But for everyone else, the benefits of canceling culture in our lives and careers can be devastating.

Even if the initial online backlash from your behavior or online comments isn’t enough damaging to your mental psyche, you never know what commercial opportunities or job opportunities might be lost in the future due to people reading negative things about you online (be it social chatter). media or negative headlines).

What to do if you’ve been canceled…

If you’ve lost your job or another position at a company following an HR investigation over controversial online comments, it’s going to be hard to appeal (to be honest).

What you do need to do is make a conscious effort to manage the potential impact that past mistakes can have on your career, bearing in mind that at some point people will search your name in Google and see the negativity associated with you.

In terms of your next job interview, or conversation with a potential commercial partner, be honest and say, “Look, you can find out about me online, I’ve taken several steps to get better and I’m no longer associated with whatever.” the poisonous event was”.

An employer or recruiter will be more likely to favor you if you brought it to their attention, rather than discovering it first hand online (they may think you are cheating).

If you find that you have really moved on, learned your lesson and can see the error of your ways, and the post or article is still alive in years to come, try to have that removed.

But in the end, the lesson has to come before you share. Just because you have a first opinion doesn’t make it good – and it doesn’t mean other people need to hear it.

Think about what your views are, what you want to be known for in your community, in your workplace, and then work back from there.

Roz Sheldon is Managing Director of Igniyte, a specialist agency that helps companies and high-profile individuals improve their online reputation and address negative perception issues, igniyte.com

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