And why call out culture isn’t even giving us a chance to get better
You’ve probably heard of the term call out culture before, maybe even let it escape your lips once in a while. It rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? But as often as it’s been used, let’s define it anyway—so no one gets confused.
Basically, call out culture is when someone is attacked for expressing bigoted views. It might have to do with gender, race, generation or anything else of the like. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, doesn’t it? When someone is prejudiced and expresses misaligned beliefs, they should be corrected. But this practice of attacking—of calling out in a harsh manner—only transfers the abuse from the original victim to a new one.
The truth is that call out culture has the power to destroy the lives of its victims. The New York Times tells the story of Emily, the frontwoman of a band back in 2016. But when someone dug up an old comment section from her high school days, wherein she replied with an emoji on a post that shared a nude photo of a fellow student, everything was finished. She was disgraced, banned and was the receiving end of nationwide hate.
A little harsh, don’t you think? You comment an emoji from back when you couldn’t even vote and your life and future are destroyed.
Was there any room for her to correct herself? Was there any space for her to grow from the experience? Say what you will, but the answer is no. She was called out and that was that.
There is, of course, room for debate. After all, how are we going to learn as a society if our mistakes aren’t corrected? Well, call out culture can be a good thing—if you keep the following in mind:
When you call someone out, it shouldn’t be for fun or for the sheer joy of silencing someone in their tracks. You need to keep the outcome in mind (which, hopefully, is helping someone better themselves).
Every situation is different
The same equation won’t garner the same results when the variables are different. You have to consider the situation and the person you’re trying to correct—and then you decide how to go about things.
Accountability should be owned
Just because you ask someone to be accountable for something doesn’t mean they’ll actually own up to it. And when you make it your responsibility that someone atones for what they’ve done, you rob them of the opportunity to actually be accountable.
Call out culture, like most things, is often a double edged sword. It can hurt or it can protect; it can be harmful or it can give some level of salvation. You just need to learn how to use it.
Art Alexandra Lara