Award-winning screenwriter and author Julian Fellowes has blasted the “sinister” effect social media has had on free debate and the role it has played in the rise of ‘cancel culture’.
The Conservative Peer, best known for creating Downton Abbey, said dissent is no longer permitted in public discourse, with the younger generation in particular demonising anyone who disagrees with them.
He said: “Social media has provided you with an audience, quite a numerous audience, who all agree with you. And that creates the sense that anyone who disagrees is being unbelievably unreasonable and needs to be silenced”.
The writer continued: “I find it quite sinister. We have to regain the ability to be disagreed with.”
He added: “I find this tremendously prescriptive society we’re living through at the moment rather naive. Every generation believes different things. Some of the things some generations believe seem wrong to us. Some of them are just bewildering.
“But the idea that we should judge them because they didn’t believe the same things we believe… I think is naive.”
Earlier this year, actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson also expressed similar concerns over the role social media has had in shaping online debate.
In an interview with Radio Times, the Blackadder and Mr Bean actor said: “The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society.
“It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.
“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.”