Raising one’s status by doing something good is relatively hard compared to pointing out bad behavior and canceling others. Calling for cancellations/boycotts is an easy way to raise one’s status, and bond as a group.
— Aparna Rao
Social status is something that is being fought over constantly and it is beneficial to be prepared for such fights. The entire thread by Rob Henderson on cancel culture and social status is worth a read:
Cancel culture and social status
If there is an activity that reliably results in people gaining status for themselves or their group, then people will do it. If it helps strengthen social bonds between the group, even better
One way to raise the status of yourself and your group is to do something good
But that involves hard work. And it’s hard to unite your group around something that requires effort and potential failure
There is an easier way to gain status and strengthen social bonds within a group.
Broadcast the bad behavior of others. People are more likely to join in this activity
It is more fun for group members.
Canceling people offers status, social solidarity, and fun distraction at little cost
Attempting to move up and failing can be hard to accept. But trying to bring others down and failing is not as unpleasant.
It provides opportunities to identify other adversaries. What or who is preventing you from bringing your target down? People can unite around that question
If you’re a 6 on the social ladder, working up to a 7 is hard.
But scheming to bring a 7 down to a 5 is easier. And more thrilling.
It is much easier to unite people to bring a 7 down to a 5 than to lift themselves up from a 6 to a 7
Uniting to bring someone down has another benefit: a filter mechanism to identify committed group members
Broadcasting bad behavior of others forces people to respond.
Those who agree the person should be canceled can be counted on. They’re loyal
But those who ask for evidence, or debate the behavior, or question the propriety of cancel culture
They have revealed themselves to be uncommitted
Cancel culture is not going away
The social rewards for taking someone down are too immediate and gratifying
The potential dangers too distant and abstract.
“You’ll be next” doesn’t really register for most people. It’s just a set of words.
The immediate benefit of social status and in-group camaraderie registers loudly and clearly
It is likely those involved in cancel culture overlap with those who observe this supposed nearsightedness about climate change (immediate reward/distant penalty)
But everyone favors immediate social rewards over avoiding the remote possibility of future suffering