For all the shock-horror accounts from some about a country riven by disputes over cancel culture, the reality is rather different. Half of people have not even heard of attempts to cancel anyone in the last few months.
This figure comes from new polling by Deltapoll, who asked, “There have been reports of campaigns, often beginning on social media, that set out to ‘cancel’ specific celebrities and other public figures because of things they have said or done. Have you heard about this happening in the last couple of months?” Exactly half of people (50%) picked the answer, “No, I had not heard about this” and around one in ten (11%) picked “Don’t know”.
Nor are these figures much changed over the last year as a comparable poll from the same first last summer put No at 54% and Don’t Know at 8%.
Moreover, less than 1-in-20 of all people (4%) said they had supported a cancel campaign in the last few months.
Usually with my blog posts about how many people have not heard of or do not understand something, it’s about a divide between those really into politics who hear and know about such things and the more typical member of the public who doesn’t.
However, with cancel culture a different factor is (also) at work. A clue is in the answers from those who had heard of attempts to cancel at least one person. Asked who those people were, the second most common answer was James Charles, an American makeup and beauty YouTuber.
It’s age that is the big factor here. While 50% overall said they had not heard of any recent cancellation attempts, this is 30% among 18-24 year olds but 57% among those 65 and older. Moreover, among just those who had heard of such attempts, 42% of 18-24 year olds had not supported any of them, rising to 90% for 65 and older.
Which makes me think that ‘cancel culture’ is a poor phrase as the ‘culture’ part implies something that is much more widespread that the Deltapoll indicates.