Taking my seat: Calling in call-out culture

What we need to change about how we communicate

Reacting on Facebook.

Have you ever avoided talking about a certain subject because you didn’t want to be called out for saying something wrong?

I have.

In these times, my discomfort speaking about certain issues isn’t because I was uneducated about the subject, it was more because I’ve observed and experienced call-out culture. Although argued as being a means to inform and educate individuals on nuanced, complex issues, it actually feels more like an act of public shaming.

I’ve seen this issue a lot on campus. As I’ve become more informed about the concerns and politics on campus, this isn’t a new phenomenon but over my five years at Queen’s I’ve actually noticed, subtle or not, how pervasive this culture really is.

It can be found in smaller forms such as a Facebook comment on an event page, noting a detail, such as the event location, is inaccessible. This is an important concern and certainly important to acknowledge and amend  however, this message could easily be sent without public exposure by messaging the event organizers. Although seemingly innocent, public call-outs can come across as a means of shaming.

I’ve seen this form of public shaming happen many times and it always leaves me with a similar sinking feeling.

I’ve noticed people will call others out on Facebook, tag them in posts and publicly shame them as if they don’t already know something they said or did was wrong. This form of public shaming behind a computer-screen is so easy, so public and, believe it or not, can actually be really hurtful.

Now, I’m not saying call-out culture is always bad. I think there are times where it’s absolutely necessary. I would even concede that in my position last year as AMS Vice President (University Affairs), there were times that both we, and the administration, needed to be called out.

I think while we change the narrative to call-in culture, encouraging people to learn and grow is still important to acknowledge. If you want to learn about issues like ‘why is police brutality in the United States so pervasive against black people?’ or ‘how could Harvey Weinstein get away with sexually harassing and assaulting young women in the entertainment industry for so long?’, it’s not up to black people or survivors of sexual violence to teach you about them.

It’s up to you, as a student and a learner, to take initiative, read and ask questions. No one’s going to force you to learn about the issues our world and country are experiencing.

There are so many forms of learning nowadays. Yesterday, I was listening to Miguel’s new song with J.Cole and J.Cole starts rapping about Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole take initiative by educating people through music and rapping. It engages a whole new demographic who might look into their lyrics and the meaning behind them. To me, this is a way to call in a generation.

As a community, we need to work on calling people in. This might mean taking a step back, taking a minute to reflect on a situation and thinking before you click ‘send’ on Facebook. We all have a lot of learning to do but we’ll get there a lot faster through calling-in and supporting each other instead of calling people out with little results.

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