Call-out culture and anxiety

3 min min read - September 7, 2019

In this article I made a very serious semantic error. I mixed terms call out culture and cancel culture. The error resulted also in a wrong conclusion. Cancel culture make targetted entity unable to defend their stand. Call out doesn't make it. Therefore I doubt reporting and naming and shaming (after a trial) offenders (in that case traffic offenders) would cause hypocrisy. It still can cause anxiety resulted from the conflict tho.

Before I dig into the problem, I need to admit that to some extent I'm a hypocrite. Where I'm totally against and disgusted by call-out (or cancel) culture I may be responsible for participating in it. When I publish a video on YouTube of a driver (cyclists and pedestrians don't have number plates, therefore they stay anonymous) I kind of name and shame them, call them out, even if I'm fully sure they did something wrong, dangerous and worth pointing out. Tho I may have to rethink that, even while writing this entry.

I like the internet as a platform for debate. It's obvious there will be plenty of people who disagree with one's views, but that is the beauty of it. This process of mixing opinions allows ideas to rise and evolve. In many places it's true, but there are few where things aren't as nice as should.

Actually, each platform has own problem with the quality of debate and potential anxiety caused by it. Facebook is known for people throwing poop on each other in a very open way, which can be daunting, but at least they allow to respond. Instagram is full of oversweeten feedbacks as people know that meth-like positivity will drive their reach. YouTube seems to be quite good as the actual effort needed to create this kind of content requires some investment, so is appreciated a lot.

But worst of the worst is Twitter. The place where having a different opinion, or being accused of having a different opinion can land you banished. And being cut off from the discussion (de-platformed) is something that can cause more harm than being openly attacked.

The simple situation, which I highlight maybe too many times, but gives a perfect example of a problem:

I create a profile that suggests tougher penalising people using mobile phones in the traffic, so driver, but cyclists and pedestrians crossing without checking their way too. I get quite a lot of constructive criticism that tells that adding cyclists and pedestrians makes my goal less attractive for the wider public, so I agree to focus on the group which according to the data is responsible for the biggest damage (as deaths and injuries).

One very respected by me influencer on YouTube notices the profile, blocks it and tells that he doesn't agree with penalising cyclist/pedestrians, therefore, I should be blocked. Other (not an influencer, but well connected in target community Twitter account) blocks the profile, blocks my private profile and asks others to block me because I'm supposedly a Daily Mail journalist (when my profile is quite clear that I'm actually a software developer).

So, in that case, people ask to de-platform me because they don't approve my opinion and/or because their political views don't align with my employers.

I got around it and both situations actually brought me some (minor, but still) attention. I managed to amend to the wider community and calm down. Anyhow, if that hit someone a bit less mentally healthy it could hit just a bit too hard.

Being cut off from conversation, taken away the ability to defend yourself, tell your part of the story and in the same time attacked (that all is sort of de-platforming) is one of the hardest social situations that can happen. It's not different than accusing the woman of being a witch because she owns a black cat and burning her on the stake before she can even say a word. It's ages ago from any moral, healthy, grownup version of the discussion.

I had a day down, being quite upset and thinking about deleting all profiles, accounts, blog, videos etc. Especially the kick from the first person who is very respected cycling YouTuber hurt me like hell. But I wrote it down a few times and I think I can go one with it. I'm still to work out what I want to do with the idea that started that situation.

But again. If I was much worse if I already had depressive state I could get either seriously hurt or drop any activity altogether.

And that is an example of how call-out culture kills people from trying, making mistakes, learning and improving.

Call-out culture is an irresponsible shit.