Read the title again – How difficult is it to rectify your mistakes? Fairly difficult, but what is complicated is to accept and acknowledge these rectifications.
Though these lines sum up what you or the people around might be going through, if we look closer, we’ll realise that there are many grey areas that change with situations. What is likely to be considered a mistake? How do you rectify your mistakes? Is it really necessary for us to be accepted by others? Who decides what is wrong and what is right?
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These are some questions that make this topic quite vague and hard to comprehend. From the word ‘mistakes’ to the kind of ‘rectification’, the possibilities of different meanings exist in spectrums. We hope to take an unbiased stance and analyse the issue from multiple perspectives.
To make this analysis cohesive, let us observe the trends in these three levels- online, personal and professional.
Social media culture has provided scope for individuals to share their work, acknowledgements and feelings to millions of people. As the interactions progress on an online platform, there are greater chances of a mistake or toxicity being amplified. The uproar against an individual or community may even become so prominent that they get cancelled for the mistakes they have done. It is important to note that mistakes are the grey zone in this case.
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For example, many stand-up comedians face mild to toxic responses to specific jokes. Some find certain jokes funny, The rest, however, find them offensive. Due to this polarisation of individuals, the degree of wrong and right varies, making it difficult to understand the objectives of what qualifies as a ‘mistake’.
We all know of this as cancel culture.
Cancel culture is briefly defined as the practice or tendency of engaging in mass cancelling. It is a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure. But, it has evolved from something that is associated with online platforms to one that occurs in the personal and professional arenas.
Cancel culture is often mistaken as ‘call-out culture’ (another jargon). The call-out culture as the name suggests, calls out the individual /community to take obligations for their ‘wrong’ actions or ‘mistakes’.
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For example, when a certain company changes the security policy that gives them access to users’ data, call-out culture helps users call them out for the ‘wrong’ they are about to do.
But, what one should understand is that cancel culture is different from call-out culture in terms of its steps. While calling out culture only “calls out” the individual, cancel culture calls out the individual/community and also cancels them. Cancelling can vary from boycotting the individuals/communities’ work, social media handle or their products thereby affecting their career/firm. But is this cancellation baseless and wrong?
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Well, for that let’s take a scenario where an actor is blamed and cancelled for endorsing a fairness cream. Often, the mob mentality cancels the actor without enquiring about the reason that made them do it. It does not give them a chance to rectify the error, thereby ruining their career. Similarly, we have seen that many actors were shunned when they talked against the use of fairness creams. Social media was filled with trolls that poked at those earlier ads they did for fairness cream endorsement. They were even criticised for being fake.
But the question here is, doesn’t someone have the right to rectify a mistake that they might have done, unknowingly or knowingly, in the initial years of their career? Do we really have to dig up the past when the present is right before us? We will leave these questions for you to think upon.
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The question of mistakes and rectifying them is quite familiar and relatable when it comes to our personal circle. However, the idea of cancelling someone might occur here passively. We all have had one or two instances where we unknowingly avoided or ‘cancelled’ a person by agreeing with others. As we have discussed earlier, the idea of the ‘mistake’ is transient. On a personal level, within a family, being a non-conformist and stepping out of the status quo are usually considered mistakes. The herd mentality is often responsible for this avoidance and prevents us from thinking originally as an individual.
It often requires a conscious effort to think individually and analyse for yourself. Every time we make a joke or blame a friend or close ones for the mistakes they have committed, make sure to walk in their shoes. This would require one to break free from the herd mentality. Though it might look difficult initially, such an exercise helps us both internally and externally. Not only do we learn to think before we act but it also helps us to maintain sanity when we (ourselves) become the victim.
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On one hand, the professional arena thrives on making mistakes to improve yourself. The other side, however, equates professionalism with perfection. It is one among the many myths that we have about the idea of professionalism and that is a topic for another article.
Both call-out culture and cancel culture exists in a professional set-up, their basic function being a sign to improve oneself. You can cancel a person due to office politics, friendship, professional fallout, or out of mere jealousy. You can call out a person for some serious wrongdoings such as performance manipulation or sexual harassment. But cancelling a coworker for baseless issues can jeopardize their whole career and is in every way unprofessional.
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To rectify your mistakes in a professional arena (though with all the ambiguity) is still the tip of the iceberg and taking accountability is an admired soft skill. It is up to us to provide a comfortable, judgement-free environment for the other to acknowledge their mistake and improve themselves.
Analysing all three categories shows us how easy is to make and rectify mistakes. Nonetheless, the scope for rectifying one’s mistake is still vast given that one is provided with an environment that is forgiving. Instead of sticking to the objectives of your narrow coterie, let’s be a bit more rational and open-minded.
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