Factfulness Friday: Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.1

What does it mean to cancel someone?

To cancel someone – generally a public person, but not only – means to try to limit their influence or their work opportunities.

The reasons for canceling someone range from inappropriate jokes they shared on social media (even years ago) to sexual assault allegations.

When a person speaks or acts in a way that is perceived as immoral, people try to cancel them. They often use social media to criticize the immoral behaviour. They also ask for the person in question to be fired and for the public to boycott them.2

A few facts about cancel culture

People view it very differently

Some people believe that the cancel culture punishes people for the harm they create in society and sets a moral standard. Others think the movement is more similar to a mob rule or a dictatorial regime where anyone who has a different opinion is punished.2

A survey by POLITICO/Morning Consult shows how people in the US feel about cancel culture3

33% were unaware of or not very familiar with cancel culture3

46% stated that cancel culture “has gone too far”3

27% of voters believe it had positive or very positive effects on society3

49% believe it had negative or very negative effects3

Liberals seem to engage in cancel culture more

49% of Democrats have shared their dislike of a person or company on social media after they did something objectionable, while only 33% of Republicans have done that3

Younger people are more likely to be a part of cancel culture

55% of people aged 18-34 have engaged in cancel culture often or sometimes, while the percentage decreases in older groups:3

44% for people 35-44 years

34% for people 45-64 years

32% for people over 65 years

Thoughts on Cancel Culture

There are many things to think about and discuss related to cancel culture.

Do people deserve to be canceled?

Maybe some people do. It depends on what they have done, the pain and damage they have caused, whether they will be legal consequences and more.

Is cancelling people the best way for our societies to promote morality, progress and growth? I honestly doubt that.

Here are some questions to think about

Who decides when someone should be canceled?

Who decides what is an offense that deserves the cancelation of someone?

On what grounds do we judge and assess someone’s (real or perceived) offense?

What if some people are offended by something that is not really offensive?

When do people deserve to have their careers destroyed? Do they?

What do we hope to accomplish by ensuring that someone will no longer have a career or an audience?

Is canceling the best option we have?

Cancel culture is an interesting phenomenon and we need to think about and discuss it.


1. Cambridge Dictionary

2. Vox, “Why we can’t stop fighting about cancel culture”

3. Politico, “Americans tune in to ‘cancel culture’ — and don’t like what they see”

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