November 2019

"... if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, cause, ‘Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out. That’s not activism.That’s not bringing about change.
If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.
That’s easy to do.”

- President Barack Obama


I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness these days. In class a couple of weeks ago, we discussed the 2013 firing of Justine Sacco . I had my students watch Jon Ronson's Ted Talk and asked them to write a one page reflection answering the question "Should Justine Sacco have been fired?" The conversation in class was incredibly powerful and enlightening. Many of my students immediately called for her firing. However, as we discussed the situation in detail and shared different perspectives, we grew aware of the hypocrisy in our culture and the inconsistent ways we choose to forgive or not forgive individuals for their mistakes. In class, we discussed our willingness to drag ordinary people down on social media because it's "easy." Much easier than bringing down a public figure or a celebrity.

The "cancel culture" worries me for a lot of reasons. How do we decide who we cancel? How do we decide who we forgive? Why does Justine Sacco get fired after misunderstood tweets but Louis C.K. is selling out shows despite admitting sexual misconduct? Who decides what punishment fits the crime? Who is creating the norms here? Are we going to grow more judgmental or more forgiving?

The conversation in class made me want to read a bit more about cancel culture. Here are some articles that stood out to me if you are interested:

The teenage perspective in the last article really got me thinking. I love this cover image because it encompasses this trend in culture so perfectly. I grew up in a world where the overarching value I was taught was "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." It's a very hard lesson to teach my kids when the world around them is certainly not adhering to that principle. What do you think of cancel culture? How do you address it in the classroom or at the dinner table? Where do you think we go from here?
As we enter the last month of the year and decade (how did that happen?!?!?), there are a lot of important things on our minds here at NAMLE. From the looks of it, 2020 is going to be a big year for media literacy education. I am in the midst of conversations with many different stakeholders - educators, researchers, social media companies, journalists, and government officials about the importance of this work.

We hope as we close out the year you may be able to support our efforts with an end of year donation to NAMLE . Every dollar counts as we move towards our vision of seeing media literacy highly valued and widely practiced in the 21st century.
Here's to a wonderful December!
Michelle Ciulla Lipkin's signature

Michelle Ciulla Lipkin 
Executive Director
Follow us on social media:
National Association for Media Literacy Education