Claims of “cancel culture,” often divided along political lines, are in the news again — and as always, the forum for outrage is social media.
The big news yesterday was that six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published. The decision was made by the business that preserves the author’s legacy, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, not, as Trump Jr. railed, President Biden.
The reason? Working with educators, the group reviewed its catalog and cited racist and insensitive imagery. The books are: “And to Think That I Saw It on
Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s
Conservatives took to Twitter to express their outrage; liberals, to defend the decision. Dr. Seuss evolved over time, as did his images. Which is why having a constructive discussion about relevance, history and progress is appropriate and nuanced. It’s worth noting, however, that many of the same people who scream about “cancel culture” have historically tried to censor LGBTQ characters from books.
At the same time, Washington politicians are debating regulating social-media companies — though one wonders how far they will get, given the muscle behind political donations.
What’s not under debate is that social media can be a force for good. In the age of COVID-19, one platform, Facebook, has been used by Pittsburghers to help each other get vaccinated.
Three women — Leighann Bacher, Heather Lucci and Liz Huber — who had navigated the confusing system of booking appointments joined forces to start the group Getting Pittsburgh Vaccinated – COVID Appointment Tip Page.
According to Pittsburgh magazine, it’s been a successful public service. Hundreds report they have gotten critical vaccinations. Sharing tips and resources to secure a vax appointment, the group skyrocketed to 26,000 members in a month.
“Somehow, we managed to gather some of the most dedicated and compassionate people in the Pittsburgh area. Every day, I’m continually amazed by the work they do,” Bacher told Pittsburgh.
The site also offers providers, wait lists, success stories and tutorials for those overwhelmed by online instructions. There is even a printable resource for this group. Anyone with additional information is asked to contribute, via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessible information has created a kind of viral humanity. People are helping friends, family and elderly neighbors, anyone who was unable to secure appointments — proving that even in tough times, you can't cancel caring.
“Every day, I get messages from people who have been helped that bring me to tears,” says Bacher. “There is light at the end of this very dark tunnel.”
Or to quote Dr. Seuss: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”