The original purpose of ‘call-out culture’—or ‘cancel culture’—is to expose injustice ingrained in society by targeting common micro-aggressions in language and attitudes.
It’s a kind of online attention boycott.
Why it’s a problem?
Well, there are damaging consequences to angry, mob-like attacks on indiscretions.
Ideals are important to hold up for us to strive towards, but realistically we all fall short of them, all the time: we’re human. Forgiveness is a part of that journey.
A ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule denies us space to misunderstand, to get things wrong or to simply not know, and then learn from it.
Despite the noblest of intentions, condemning others online is a slippery slope that leads us into ideological extremes all to easily.
Fear of hate speech has become a kind of threat to open dialogue, and people now seem more inclined to burn bridges than cross them.
Being intolerant in the name of tolerance is still intolerance. The way a message is communicated is often just as important as the message itself, or else we create a world in which it’s dangerous to differ.
Call out culture can give voice to the relatively powerless. It also creates alliances, whose combined power lifts up oppressed or ignored groups around the world.
But if these alliances are wholly conditional upon all members speaking the same ideological language at all times, then it is only alliances that we value, not the people.
It’s important to reproach those expressing a prejudiced or harmful idea while not rejecting that person’s humanity. We are—and should remain—teachable.
If we just cut people off or out, we foster greater discord and even, in some cases, extremism.
If we can’t have open discussions about why we think what we do, why we ascribe to certain belief systems, then do we even believe them at all, or are we just going with the crowd?
It may be easier to attack one person; to make them a villain and call it a day. But that doesn’t provide a real solution.
Screens make it easy to forget that there’s a person behind the profile, but if we speak to everyone with this in mind, we can all treat each other with more kindness and less hate.