Reading Comprehension | What is cancel culture?

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text about cancel culture and do the comprehension questions


What is cancel culture?

Cancel culture, also known as call-out culture, refers to the popular practice in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles - either online on social media, in the real world, or both. It is a modern form of ostracism.

History and origin of cancel culture

Ostracism was a procedure under Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. The word "ostracism" continues to be used for various cases of social shunning.

Modern use of ostracism

'Cancel culture' is a modern form of ostracism. Those who are subject to cancel culture are said to be "canceled." Merriam-Webster notes that to cancel, as used in this context, means "to stop giving support to that person" while, in its pop-culture dictionary, defines cancel culture as "withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive." Urban Dictionary describes this modern phenomenon as a practice where a person is ejected from influence or fame by questionable actions. Put differently, cancel culture constitutes a form of boycott involving an individual (usually a celebrity) who is deemed to have acted or spoken in a questionable or controversial manner. For those at the receiving end of call-out culture, the consequence can lead to loss of reputation and income that can be hard to recover from

Is cancel culture effective?

Cancel culture is most effective against people who are still growing their reputation in their domains. The aim of cancellation is to set rules for the majority, not demolish those who have already established their place among the stars. According to New York Times, "a climate of cancellation can succeed in changing the way people talk and argue and behave even if it doesn’t succeed in destroying the careers of some of the famous people that it targets."


The expression "cancel culture" has mostly negative connotations and is commonly used in debates on free speech and censorship. Former US President Barack Obama warned against social media call-out culture saying "People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids and, you know, share certain things with you." Former US President Donald Trump criticized cancel culture in a speech in July 2020, comparing it to totalitarianism and claiming that it is a political weapon used to punish and shame dissenters by driving them from their jobs and demanding submission.

Source: Wikipedia


  1. Cancel culture is a practice that occurs only online.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. The act of banishing someone from society is a new phenomenon.
    a. True.
    b. False.
  3. This practice is criticized for being a form of censorship.
    a. True
    b. False

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