How Do You Define Cancel Culture?

What it means to “cancel” someone or something

What is cancel culture and how do you define it? The phenomenon of silencing those with opposing views has always existed but the Internet has amplified the power of cancel culture by allowing people to weaponize it by drumming up support from online mobs.

Cancel culture is characterized by six distinct practices, which can easily be remembered by the acronym CANDEM, which sounds like “condemn.”

CANDEM stands for the six elements of cancel culture

  • The “C” stands for collective, because with cancel culture, a perceived objectionable statement or action is often seen as an affront to a collective – a larger group – instead of a single individual. Cancel culture is all about bringing a larger group into a conflict instead of allowing the incident to play out, one-on-one. Cancel culture requires that a larger group of people be brought into the discussion, expanding the controversy to show the target’s contempt and disrespect for a larger group of people. That group of victims them becomes the attacker, mobilizing to exact justice from the lone transgressor.
  • The “A” stands for arising in reference to how quickly outrage arises and accelerates, amplified by the reach of the Internet. The result? A small insignificant exchange can be expanded into a global conversation in the blink of an eye. Fueled by a 24-hour news cycle, and amplified by the media, something minor can quickly morph into a gigantic mess.
  • The “N” refers to the nature of the offense, which is almost always very minor and sometimes even fabricated. Often, a video or social media post has been taken out of context and is actually much less damaging than it is made to appear.
  • The “D” refers to the disproportionate response, which makes no exceptions for judgment errors or genuine mistakes. With cancel culture, the consequences far outweigh the mistakes and are usually in response to words or ideas, not actions.
  • The “E” refers to everyone because everyone is afraid to defend the accused. They are afraid of having the cancel culture mob turn on them. The result is that the person whois being canceled is isolated.
  • The “M” refers to the moral absolutism of the accusers who pick apart the remains of the person who has been taken down. It is intimidation by morally absolute coalition to punish the alleged transgressor.

Silencing Those Perceived to Have Dangerous Views

Cancel culture’s intent is to silence or publicly shame those whose beliefs are thought to be harmful to the masses. Today, with social media as a weapon, a person whose beliefs are thought to be harmful can be shamed online in ways that could result in job loss, business loss, abandonment by friends, and social isolation.

Cancel culture uses the Internet and social media to focus rage on someone or something and then destroy that target in a fit of self-righteous admonishment. The anonymous online mob acts as judge, jury and executioner and removes any due process from the equation by exerting the power of vigilante justice.