Every day, it seems that I’m waking up to a new trend on Twitter with hundreds upon hundreds of users calling someone out and throwing them under the bus for the most menial of choices they made. Sometimes these decisions were weighed 3–5 years ago.
Here’s the truth: it is not possible for every human being to correctly weigh every single choice they are given. And certainly some choices are easier to weigh than others. But is it still possible to be a good person in 2019?
YouTuber and writer Hank Green went over this in a recent video referencing the latest season of NBC’s The Good Place. Throughout the season, it becomes evident that even the people who have tried to do the “right thing” for their entire lives even end up making bad decisions and heading to “the bad place.”
It’s a great point. And no, I’m not saying that those with sexual assault allegations, pedophile accusations, or those who have presented themselves as ‘bad human beings’ over and over with their horrific actions don’t deserve to be held accountable for what they’ve done. However, the regression in accountability that we’ve made as a society has made me want to throw my phone into the ocean.
In social justice circles, this is called “call out culture.” This usually includes publicly pointing out that someone is being oppressive in some form. It could also mean that someone is being problematic, which can range to making a bad joke on a podcast nine years ago to engaging in inappropriate behavior with a minor.
Regardless, calling someone out has two goals in mind: it lets others know that someone is being oppressive and by letting others know, they’ll hopefully join in to hold them accountable for their actions.
Essentially, calling someone out aims to get someone’s problematic behavior to stop.
Ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you something called “calling in.” It’s a term that I first learned of around two years ago. And no, it isn’t the stressful call you make to your workplace to let them know you can’t come in today. Instead, it’s a simple gesture towards letting someone know how oppressive they are being and how it can affect others.
I first saw this in action through a Facebook connection I had made through my ties in the music industry. A local venue promoter, skin-color white, had been using the n-word.
When my Facebook acquaintance saw what the promoter had posted, she messaged him privately, explaining what he said was insensitive and educated him on why using that word wasn’t okay.
Now, don’t get me wrong. He didn’t apologize, insisted that he “says it all the time” and has “a lot of black friends.” This isn’t always the case, though. My dad used to act homophobic before learning I was bisexual. He’s since stopped using words like “gay” to express his displeasure in something.
Much like calling out, calling in aims to stop problematic behavior.
The difference between calling out and calling in is that the former is a little hostile and the latter is given with more compassion and empathy. We could all use some more of that right now.