So You’re Being Cancelled

Laura Jedeed
12 min readAug 22, 2023

A survival guide for when the world turns on you

A dead tree in the middle of a desert. Its dead branches lie at its base. Nothing is alive
Photo by Laura Jedeed

“Cancel culture” is a virtually meaningless phrase at this point. Mostly it is bullshit, but sometimes it is not. Cancellation is absolutely a real thing. It happens often. It’s ugly, and awful, and shredding.

By cancellation, I don’t mean suffering negative repercussions for being an asshole. I’m talking about a thing that happens with stunning regularity in leftist circles where the majority of people in your community decide you are a bad person who should not exist in public. Once they have reaches this decision, they attack you, relentlessly, no matter what you say, with the goal of driving you out of public life entirely. No internet presence. No showing up in person. They want you to disappear.

This kind of attack has happened to me, and, in a life that has included plenty of bad things it is still one of the most horrific things I’ve ever been through. There is simply no way to explain it to someone who hasn’t gone through it. Everyone who isn’t attacking you is telling you that you’re being a giant baby. It’s an impossibly lonely situation.

You are not being a giant baby. You are an animal that evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to survive by forming social groups. Now you are being driven out of your social group, which your brainstem know means death. You are also discovering that people cannot be trusted — people you thought were going to be your friends forever, people you’ve personally helped, people you admire. You are what no human being can bear to be for long: alone and helpless.

But you aren’t actually alone, and you aren’t helpless either. There are things that you can do to minimize the damage and the pain. I learned these things the hard way. I now bequeath them unto you.

I’ve wanted to write a How To Survive Cancellation guide for a while. There’s no particular reason for me to do it now — with social media crumbling before our eyes it makes less sense than ever. I’m just doing it because I want to, and because I should be working on other things that I don’t want to do at all.

This guide assumes that you are being cancelled for something where the punishment emphatically does not fit the crime: a dumb mistake, or…

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Laura Jedeed

Freelance journalist, filthy pleb. Politics mostly. Find my work at NYMag, Politico, Rolling Stone, New Republic, and Substack: https://laurajedeed.substack.com