This past spring, one of the mainstays of the gaming youTuber sphere, ProJared, found himself embroiled in controversy following a public Twitter announcement explaining his decision to divorce his wife, Heidi. Following this announcement, Heidi took to Twitter herself to level a boatload of cheating accusations against Jared and, as is typical when a famous person is found in a vulnerable state, people whom Jared had sexually communicated with in the past on Tumblr came out of the woodwork to pile on the controversy with newfound "enlightenment" about the "predatory" nature of their conversations.
As reported by Cecilia D'Anastasio of Kotaku, one day after the divorce announcement, "Since last night, at least seven of Knabenbauer's fans have come forward to say they either sent naked pictures to or received naked pictures from the YouTuber; two of these fans [Charlie and Chai] says they were 16 years old at the time of this exchange."
As the internet is wont to do, legions of people immediately latched on to the idea of Jared being a pedophile and accepted these accusations as true with no concrete evidence whatsoever, beginning a crusade against the disgraced YouTuber by spreading nude photos of him around, unsubscribing from his YouTube channel in one of the biggest mass-exoduses in the site's history and harassing him incessantly any time he made an attempt to post on Twitter.
This behavior is indicative of what many call "cancel culture." Nowadays, when any public figure does anything deemed unacceptable by the masses or is simply accused of such a thing, social media users everywhere go out of their way to sabotage that person's career and irreparably destroy their reputation.
In fact, according to Jonah Engel Bromwich of The New York Times, "…not all cancellations are the result of transgressing fans' expectations. Sometimes they happen for no stated reason. All it takes for someone to be canceled is for someone else to announce, via social media, that they are."
Cancellation is exactly what happened to Jared. Taking the word of people with no proof to back up their claims, Twitter and Reddit users, in particular, humiliated and name-called Jared en masse any time he was brought up, attempted to organize a movement to cripple his career and even shut down his official subreddit after removing his moderator privileges. For the latter, this was after several days of turning the subreddit into an echo chamber of cruel bullying.
There is a massive problem with the internet. No one should salivate at the opportunity to destroy someone else's life, as many on social media seem to do, especially when they act on these impulses from baseless accusations. While it may be admirable to wish to defend the innocent and hold public figures accountable for their mistakes, the vast majority of cancel culture participants simply use this excuse to mask the joy they take in kicking people while they are down.
Withholding judgment until the facts are made clear may not be fun, but it is the right thing to do. Even if the accusations are true, the dismantling of someone's career is not an appropriate response, in many cases. In Jared's case, even if he did cheat on his wife, I find it hard to accept his livelihood should be interfered with. Cheaters may not be good people, but they are not evil. Now, if Jared knowingly sexually interacted with minors, it would be a different story.
Conveniently for my argument though, Jared provided a mountain of evidence against these claims just last month. In a 40-minute video, he systematically dismantled them; this was accompanied by obvious physical signs of sleep deprivation and a general disheveled look.
Tyler Wilde and Andy Chalk described the main points in an article for PCGamer.com saying, "… he also shared a Medium message in which Chai said that he suffered a serious accident during PE class, and alleged that the hallucinations and memory loss described by Chai make him an untrustworthy source … he then shared his own images of the same conversation to show that he had asked Charlie about their age, and that Charlie lied in response."
These were accompanied by numerous examples of harassment from both people, contradictions for all of their claims and evidence they were general attention-seekers. Of course, this has received nowhere near the coverage the original accusations did. Many refuse to even watch the video, as it would deny them their sweet high ground, and this very refusal to highlight his innocence as much as his past alleged guilt proves exactly why cancel culture exists in the first place.