I have recently noticed that there are a lot of accounts on platforms such as TikTok, Twitter and Instagram dedicated to exposing “cringe,” but when I watch the videos posted on these accounts, a lot of them tend to just be people minding their own business.
Often times, the subject being called “cringe” is just a person enjoying anime, doing cosplay, looking different from other people or engaging in some other random behaviour that really does not harm anyone.
Reuploading someone’s video with a caption making fun of them for your thousands of followers is just bullying. Naturally, because the internet allows anonymity and enables mass communication, it makes bullying really easy. But that does not mean it is okay to pick on someone because their appearance or interests are different than yours.
Dressing up as an anime character and dancing in front of a camera is a bit odd. But realistically, there is no harm in doing so. If it brings someone a smile or makes them feel happy, then we should either leave them alone or be supportive of their interests.
Which brings me to my point — as a society, we should be more willing to engage in “cringe” behaviour. Refusing to engage in behaviour that would be labelled “cringe” is cowardly. We should not refuse to do something that will make us happy just because someone else might judge us for it.
For example, when I was growing up, I had a lot of special interests. I would get fixated on a topic, TV show, movie or video game and obsess over it for a while. In fact, I still do this.But when I was younger, I found out that talking to people about cartoons, niche historical topics and video games was really uncool.
This ultimately led to me bury my interests while in public, and to make friends that did not really understand what I was interested in. I knew that talking about what I watched, played or read about over the weekend would ostracize me.
But I should not have censored my hobbies or interests for people who do not value me for who I actually am, and neither should you. If we all talked more freely about the “weird” stuff we like, I think we would all be happier. That cartoon you enjoy is not as silly as you think it is, and that game you have one hundred hours in is actually kind of cool.
I think many of us want to be accepted, so we dilute ourselves for others. Diluting yourself to please others only harms yourself. Bury it as much as you want, you are still you.
You could read into that statement and see it as a commentary on sexuality, gender identity or some other facet of identity, and it would still hold true. Hiding a part of yourself is unnecessary. There will always be people who try to tear you down for who you are, what you like and who you like. But the more people that live their honest truth, no matter how different, the better we all are for it.
Being yourself can be difficult because it means you are being vulnerable. When we mask ourselves, we cannot be hurt by someone’s teasing or their exclusion, but when we are our honest selves, we carry that risk.
Being vulnerable is worth the risk because it means we can honestly enjoy our truth, identities and interests. You might get put on some stupid Instagram account with thousands of followers, but you looked good doing it and you had fun. That has to be worth something.