What is Cancel Culture?

With the recent YouTube drama between James Charles, Tati and the online beauty community, a lot of people are asking ‘What is cancel culture and what impact is it having?’. With this new phenomenon literally changing people’s lives, cancel culture is having a serious impact on YouTubers and their lives so let’s dig into what it is and why it’s important.

The first thing you have to remember is that YouTube and all social platforms are a democratic environment. People vote with their follow/unfollow and with each individual person’s vote the community builds up popular profiles and squashes those they don’t relate to. For someone to reach 16 million followers you have to break it down into 16 million individual people voting to say yes, I like your content and want to see more of it. So the democratic factor is very important for YouTubers and their audiences.

The issue is that an audience can take you down as fast as they built you. This recently has been labelled as ‘Cancel Culture’. ‘Cancel Culture’ by definition is a mass online movement to ‘cancel’ a person i.e. unfollow and disengage with their content and brand so as to remove their profile online. Most recently we’ve seen these movements against James Charles following Tati Westbrook’s damning video titled ‘Bye Sister’. James Charles has since experienced the largest drop in subscribers in YouTube history, dropping from 16.5 million followers to 13.9 million.

Tati’s video prompted a ‘cancel culture’ as followers exercised their democratic ability to remove their support from his channels, whilst supporting her and almost doubling her own follower count to over 10 million.

One issue some have with cancel culture is that followers can be swept up in allegations and statements made against a person without much or any evidence. They remove their follow or engagements without actually understanding what is going on behind closed doors. With it often taking 24 hours for someone to formulate a measured and well-edited response to a damning video, often the ‘cancel’ movement has already started without both sides being heard.

However, some argue that this is just the world of social; fast moving, ruthless and emotional. People are exercising their democratic power, some people just love the drama and some are just swept up in the excitement. One thing has become clear from these movements; audiences have power online. From one individual follow or unfollow it snowballs into huge votes of support or against a person’s page and dramatically affects that person’s potential ad revenue.

So, that is the definition of cancel culture and an example of how it has impacted lives in a serious way. The question is, who are you supporting with your follows online? Have you exercised your democratic impact on social yet?

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