Is everything you’ve ever said perfect? Or, like myself and pretty much everyone else I know, have you said things, especially when you were younger, that could be taken pretty badly out of context? Luckily for you, you probably don’t have half the country scrutinising your every move. Quite unlike newly-appointed Creative Director of Pretty Little Thing and 22-year old influencer, Molly Mae Hague.
The Molly Mae Storm
Famous for YouTubing and a stint on Love Island, Molly Mae is one of the better-known influencers out there, and even if you’d not heard of her until recently, you almost certainly have now. Because, last week, a soundbite from an interview she did back in December with Steven Bartlett resurfaced on social media, and honestly, unsurprisingly, was taken rather badly.
And I’m not here to say whether Molly Mae was right or wrong in what she said, I think you know the answer to that just as much as I do. What I did want to bring up was the idea of cancel culture, and why quite frankly, we need to quit it. Social media has the power to ruin lives, and it does every single day. We live in such a hyperconnected world that once, where today’s news would line tomorrow’s rubbish bin, nowadays stories are sadly here to stay.
From somebody who works with social media day in, day out, I’m no stranger to its potential, I mean, it was YouTube and subsequently Instagram which helped Molly Mae rise to her fame in the first place. But how can it be that in the next second, it can take it all away again? The answer is people. We’re so emotional and passionate about what we see online, that we allow it to dictate others’ lives as well as our own. If you’ve felt yourself incredibly invested in the Molly Mae debacle as it unfolds, that’s no coincidence. We once used to turn off our computers at the end of the night, now, we’re never too far from social media, with most of us having our phones by our side day and night. We’re invested in what we see online and it invokes emotions within us, even more so in this day and age when we’re more used to spending more time at home and online.
This is a classic case of an influencer being given too much power, not knowing how to properly act with it, and paying the price as a result.
WTH Is Cancel Culture Anyway?
Cancel culture: a movement inspired by a person of social influence doing something morally questionable which provokes social media users to ‘cancel’ that individual (i.e. their career).
Cancel culture is rooted in passion and often, anger. And in this instance, I’m not at all surprised that people are infuriated. However, we have the power to destroy careers and lives, and I think we all need to be a little more careful with it.
What’s The Power Of Cancel Culture?
Social media outrage has led to very serious real-world implications, for example in 2019 YouTuber Brook Haus was filmed abusing her dog, which landed her in a police investigation; and lives have been ruined over much less too. Whether it’s words taken out of context, or an exposé, cancel culture has resulted in lost brand deals, deleted accounts, death threats, ruined careers and much more for those who found fame online (or those indeed that just ended up in the centre of the online world without actually wanting to be there).
In Molly Mae’s case, as the fresh-faced Creative Director of Pretty Little Thing, it’s not just her own personal brand that’s wrought the consequences of her poorly worded podcast speech. According to a blog written by my lovely colleague Jessica McDonnell, searches for the term “how to cancel PLT order” spiked by 2,967% in light of the controversial comments, the company has even had to publicly step in to announce she will keep her job on the board.
Lets Quit Cancelling Young Women
I’m not here to argue the absurdity of comments made, they were ridiculous and people have a right to be angry. But to try to ruin a young woman’s career over something she clearly didn’t think through properly and has since apologised for, is abhorrent. We have tremendous capabilities on social media, and oftentimes we can use it for good. So, instead of wielding that power to cancel, let’s use it for good instead – we should be educating and understanding.
I’ve no doubt Molly Mae will have a prolific PR team around her following this debacle, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle the next few weeks. If she can keep away from anything controversial, I’d not be surprised if the world forgave and forgot – after all, it’s not the first time a high profile individual has been able to move on from something seemingly unforgivable at the time. In the meantime, let’s use our platforms to be kind to one another; because if this incident has taught us anything – it’s that words can be damaging, but fighting fire with fire will get us nowhere.