On 19 April 2018, the famed and renowned singer and actor Ali Zafar was accused of harassment on Twitter. The tweet was enough to spark a fire thus leading to more women coming forward and more allegations like a chain reaction, till the time the court dismissed the case filed by the complainant. Zafar was blamed, shamed and defamed by many in an effort to cancel him and support the victim. He then had to bear with accusations that ostensibly kept growing day after day till the case was dismissed. Another jostle for mob justice was seen in this incident. This is only one example out of millions where the unusual and restless rise of cultures pertaining to the revocation of a figure in a society or virtue signalling individuals along with hyperbole expression patterns is heralding the search for a new justice dispensing system.

In a society like ours, the aforementioned trends might be the most favourable and enjoyed ones considering the fact that we thoroughly enjoy the privilege of taking matters into our hands before an issue can even reach a judge or jury. Initially, our justice system is to blame, obviously, but the people who tend to do so are to be blamed as well for it is their act of contravening that creates an infinite cycle of more mob justice, a growing mind-set of a failed justice system leading to an immunity from the actual law and no or less action in accordance with the law. 

The Internet: A Facile Mob Flex Medium 

Internet overwhelmingly gives more space to individuals to function freely as it gives them a voice regardless of whatever pathological opinion, the chance to cancel someone if the views are contrary to those of them and their group and the opportunity to virtue signal so as to fulfil their insatiable cravings to appear more righteous than others. Though a voice granted to everyone is a progressive and democratic step towards an all-out metamorphosing society eliminating self-censorship, a peculiar and daunting picture tends to peep through the crevices of this modernising society. 

As the populace starts to take to the Internet, the mob’s new cancel culture along with its virtue signalling is another way of being the judge and the jury. This culture emerged recently in the past few years and tends to blame, shame and then further ‘cancel’ the individual and their beliefs after piling onto them when their ideas, actions and opinions are found offensive. The ever-expanding cancel culture and acts of individual revocation is a gargantuan element of this virtue signalling menace. What this act seems to do is only put in contrast the people and the alleged being cancelled thus only creating this introspective good figure like feeling and giving the sense of being at a moral high ground. The three-edged sword thought is left somewhere way behind in the tepid assumptions of the mass and their strive for an end to what offends them. Similarly, completely disregarding the constituents of an event, we tend to leave the things that seem vague to us, in the background. Many such events have taken place where videos surface on the internet and we jump to conclusions, browbeating and put the accused in pillories based on little evidence. False news and fake videos leading to many victims have left us with this cluster of issues and unreliable sources yet no less virtue signalling groups passively demanding cancellation and only casting stones. A much darker aspect of this already dismal picture is the fundamental fault in the human nature regarding the incapacity to self-reflect and unconscious hypocrisy. Regurgitating opinions that only favour your thinking and the blatant disregard for critical thinking is just a lack of the identification of your own pitfalls. 

Cancel Culture Back Then

This cancel culture dates back to the times when people in the Massachusetts were termed witches due to their differing views or become a target because of defending a target. It was present when Nietzsche got cancelled for saying ‘God is dead’ without even reading his whole book to understand the statement enough to be well-equipped to pass a judgement. Or even when Socrates was sentenced to death because the society thought he was a nuisance because of his ideas and alienated views which is also a classic example of the mob rule or mob justice system. The internet today has a few witches and Nietzsche’s people would love to cancel until they run out of things to be offended by. The likelihood of this trend to increase is high as new movements start to gain momentum, but what poses another threat are the hidden vicious and malevolent people acting as empaths, virtue signalling with original victims to satisfy their own motives and evil schemes or those people only trying to cancel others in a self-motivated attempt. Such a sad example of this cancel culture was the misuse of the ‘Me Too’ movement by a female student that accused a lecturer at MAO College Lahore of harassing her which was later denied and termed as a false allegation after an inquiry but had eventually tormented the Lecturer to the point where he committed suicide. The very cancel culture that had been helping actual victims has raised questions regarding a gullible audience always ready to support any victim on the internet eluding perspicacity on the matter. 

Staving It Off

As we segue into a more intolerant internet public square like space where the blame game seems to never end, more like a repertoire we see every day only expanded with some alterations here and there, the anarchic nature of the Internet and its actors deteriorating day after day. The need to orchestrate your views and disregard whosoever seems inclined to object, narrows down the development of a free space capable of educational interaction. Regardless of how much saturated we are with non-concurring views, a much more civilised approach to differ should not be lost in the way. The internet cacophony filled with virtue signalling individuals must realise that accusation is not enough to blame someone for a crime, the cancel culture you support can cancel you someday too, and that mob justice is actually an injustice. Issues these days are not indiscernible to the point where we have to rely on incomplete, awry evidence to be able to pass a judgement.