Thanks to all readers who answered our anonymous survey on cancel culture. The results are in, and they are illuminating. Here are a few key statistics from the 355 responses:
- Only 25% of those personally affected by cancel culture reported that the experience had had no significant effect on their wellbeing in either the short or long term. The undeniable mental health impact of cancellation is such an important, yet often neglected, element of the experience that the FSU is going to undertake some in-depth research into this whole area.
- Just 20% of respondents felt their experience of cancel culture was completely unexpected. This is positive in that people are perhaps steeling themselves for the cancellation experience and are thus better prepared, but it’s also rather depressing in that we have now come to expect the shutting down of free expression.
- Politically, 21% of respondents declared themselves to be centre or left of centre, while another 21% considered themselves politically homeless. While it’s true that most respondents (57%) described themselves as right of centre, these statistics do challenge the idea that cancel culture is simply a right-wing myth.
As ever, the freeform comments from people about their personal experience made for sobering reading, particularly when it came to the degree of self-censorship taking place. Here are just a handful of the most striking observations:
“I can’t answer the impact question as the issue is new and [ongoing]. I will say it was a shock and it’s having a negative impact on me. Scary, maddening, totally unfair, and affecting other areas of my life.”
“I joined the civil service in 2017 working on Brexit and found that the vast majority of my colleagues (including those at the more senior end) were surprisingly vocal about their political views and that this affected advice given in the department. There was an oppressive feeling that only one view (the right one) was allowed to be discussed. This extended to EDI including departmental all staff meetings where those of one view were extremely vocal and everyone else just shut up to save their jobs. I have since moved to an operationally separate agency which is better, but the IDE point remains.”
“I’m a teacher. I estimate that about 50% of staff and students fear raising certain perspectives for fear of being labelled. A sorry state of affairs!”
“I have managed to avoid being ‘cancelled’ so far because I’ve effectively self-censored – deleted all social media accounts, very reserved at work (or even out of work when socialising with current or former colleagues). I only express ideas when in the company of people I know to be reasonably trustworthy. So cancel culture has indirectly affected me (and no doubt many others in a similar position) – to avoid being cancelled, simply don’t say anything.”