How to Handle Cancel Culture

Why Cancel Culture Presents So Many Challenges

Silencing people who embrace unpopular viewpoints, or perspectives not shared by their detractors, is at the heart of cancel culture. It’s a practice that is characterized by ostracizing, shunning or boycotting, and is fueled by the actions of online mobs.


Sadly, anyone can be the victim of cancel culture, not just the rich and famous, who are better positioned financially to weather the fallout from an attack. And all it takes is for someone with access to the internet to level outlandish accusations against someone and share those outrage-fueled claims online.


A full-blown online attack takes shape when followers blindly take up the cause and spread the claims – even if they are false. The damage can be fast and furious.

Once you have been hit by cancel culture, your reputation and future career prospects can be in mortal jeopardy. And you will likely have no clue who your detractors are. And in many instances, the communications are shocking, intimidating, and designed to instill horror and fear.

Cancel Culture and Social Media

Anonymity is one of the key elements that makes cancel culture so difficult to combat. You never know who is behind that Twitter handle, posted comment, orReddit thread. The Internet demands neither accountability nor transparency.

People who participate in cancel culture attacks can include anyone who has access to the web.

During an attack, cancel culture victims typically receive an onslaught of these messages through a variety of media, including text messages, phone calls, voicemails at home or their places of business, and email messages to their individual and work email accounts, as well as the general inboxes of their employers.

With the proliferation of affordable smartphones that are web-enabled, previously disconnected people all over the world can now pull from their pocket devices with more computing power than supercomputers possessed as recently as the 1990s.

Definition of Cancel culture attack contains these 6 elements (CANDEM):

  1. Collective considered a victim of the crime
  2. Arising and escalating quickly
  3. Nature of the offense is often trivial or fabricated
  4. Disproportionate response
  5. Everyone is afraid to defend the accused
  6. Moral absolutism by those doing the canceling

Cancel culture attacks can take the form of horrifying statements posted in the comments sections of mainstream press and more fringe outlets. They occur in discussion boards, online social media threads, and virtual rooms and meet-ups where strangers congregate to share their perspectives in the public square.

Fueling this ugly phenomenon is a level of rage and political frustration that has not existed in decades.

Justice by mob rule is merciless

  • Cancel culture is one of the biggest threats to free speech, artistic expression, due process, and democracy.
  • News and information can instantly reach billions.
  • Larger mobs can form faster than ever online.
  • Cancel culture efforts can convert the powerless into the powerful, whether they deserve to be or not.

In summary, cancel culture – where online detractors sit as judge, jury and executioner – is in direct opposition to American values.


  1. What is cancel culture?

Cancel culture refers to the mass withdrawal of support from public figures, celebrities or ordinary citizens who have done things that some consider socially unacceptable. This practice of "canceling" or mass shaming often occurs on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

  1. What is a negative effect of cancel culture?

Cancel culture encourages shame, not accountability and metes out vigilante justice, with the online attackers serving as judge, jury and executioner.

  1. What does it mean to be canceled?

Canceling someone means to completely reject and stop supporting them, especially because they have said something that offends you.