I often say that the woke do not want to win intellectually or academically, they want to win socially. The perfect example of this is *NOT* cancel culture, it is the phenomenon of the "call-out." Sometimes people think call-outs and cancel culture are the same thing and that’s not quite right. So, lets briefly explain both call-outs and cancel culture and how they are different, then I'll explain what call-outs are, how they work, and how to deal with them.
Cancel culture is the phenomenon where a person or group seek to get a person they disagree with fired, kicked of social media, removed from a position of influence, or de-platformed. The point of canceling someone is to remove their ability to earn a living as a way of punishing them for disagreeing with wokeness. The way that cancel culture functions is by use of punishment as an incentive not to disagree with wokeness. In cancel culture it is the threat of *punishment* in the form of being fired or de-platformed that does all the heavy lifting. I want to linger here on the mechanism of cancel culture: punishment. In cancel culture the thing that does the work is the threat of:
-the loss of the ability to make a living
-the loss of a platform from which to spread your ideas
-the loss of access to various social activities
which does all the heavy lifting of cancel culture. It is the threat of economic, vocational, and professional punishment that puts the fist in the glove of cancel culture.
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It is very common for people to think that call-out are just another part of cancel culture. The idea is that the reason call outs are effective at making people bend the knee to wokeness is that is if you get called out and don't bend the knee, the next step is cancellation. This is wrong. While it is true that call-outs can lead to cancellation, it is not the threat of being canceled that provides the fist in the glove of call-outs. The mechanism that makes cancellation effective is different from the mechanisms that make call-outs effective. The mechanisms that make call-outs effective is a combination of social pressure, the sense of hyper-visibility we feel when we are humiliated in public, and fear of large scale social rejection.
Let me explain.
There are times when people will spontaneously use social rejection to enforce certain social norms. An example of this is if someone insults the bride at a wedding and now everyone is staring at them with silent disapproval. That sort of rejection is enough to make most people apologize immediately for whatever they did wrong. The woke seek the hijack this social mechanism and make not being woke one of the things that society will reject you for. What make call-outs effective is the way that call-outs make use of this mechanism of social rejection: namely the threat and the fear of social rejection is wielded by the woke as a way of bringing tremendous social pressure on people they disagree with.
The way social pressure works in the case of woke call-outs is by making the person the woke are calling-out feel that ominous feeling of hyper-visibility that one feels when they have made a very serious mistake in a public setting. The woke are trying to take the anxiety that most people feel when they get put "on the spot" in a very public way, and mix that with the feeling of "everyone is looking at me and I just humiliated my self and everyone disapproves of me." The mechanism of action in call-out culture is the threat of social rejection and that ominous sense of "uh-oh, everyone is looking at me and my reputation is about to be obliterated." The woke want everyone to think that being non-woke is like insulting the bride at a wedding; a huge social no-no.
Basically, they want to make anyone who is non-woke feel like society is one big social gathering where everyone is woke and the social equivalent of this picture is happening to you:
What the woke do with call-outs is to use social media to artificially create the sense that the entire world is staring at you with disgust because of your non-woke views. They use the mechanisms of shaming, social rejection, and reputational destruction to enforce wokeness. This is effective because most people feel tremendous social pressure when they are put on the spot in a very public way, and this pressure is multiplies when they are “dragged” and “piled on” by activists who are shaming them. The social pressure that people feel in this scenario is so high that many times the woke do not actually need to cancel someone in order to make them bend the knee to wokeness. The social pressure, sense of hyper-visibility, and fear of large scale social rejection is enough to do the business of making people bend the knee without ever having to get anyone fired. The fact is that calling someone out and putting them on the spot on social media or in a public setting can produce enough social pressure to make most people give in and bend the knee.
The effectiveness of the combination of social pressure, a sense of hyper-visibility, and the fear of large scale social rejection is one reason you will often see woke people on twitter or other social media sites respond to things that they do not like with such phrases as:
-"Read the room"
-"This isn't a good look"
-"You need to rethink this"
-"This isn't it"
The goal of those phrases isn't to teach people why they are wrong, or make helpful suggestions, or to be a form of constructive criticism. The goal of phrases like "read the room" is to make you feel like someone who misunderstood a social situation and said something really embarrassing. These sorts of terms are also a means to give you that sense of hyper-visibility you feel when you've just done something embarrassing in public. The woke are not trying to give you a chance to explain your ideas, or to help you see what mistake you made; the woke want you to feel "seen." They want you to feel the same way unpopular kids feel when they try to hang out with the pretty girls but get rejected with a "Stacey stare."
It's artificially induced virtual social rejection done at scale. What this means is the the woke have hijacked some of our mechanisms of norm enforcement and then used social media in order to create a sort of social pressure and social disapproval death-star that they wield with impunity and aim at anyone who gets on their bad side.
There is one other element of the call-out which we must say something about, and that is the artificiality of it. What the woke do is attempt to hijack the mechanisms of social rejection and social disapproval that we use to enforce moral and social norms, and use them in the service of enforcing wokeness. They will often co-ordinate attack on people by calling them out and socially swarming them in a way which looks organic. It is an attempt to make artificially created and pre-planned call-outs and swarms look like authentic, spontaneous, organic social disapproval. They are weaponizing social rejection as a way to shut people up. It's mean, cruel, and unkind.
The way to deal with a tactic like this is to simple but we need to understand that call-outs thrive on the drama of the call-out. That is, a call-out generates a whole lot of publicity and interest as people wait to se how someone reacts. If you simply refuse to react to a call-out sooner or later the digital crowd which has gathered will lose interest. Remember, call-outs are almost always relying on artificial attention. There are certain accounts which have cultivated an audience that has as it’s goal to swarm, pile on, and drag people. They turn their accounts into a sort of evil call-out “bat-signal” that alerts their followers that now is the time to swarm, pile on, and brigade someone. This is not organic. Most regular people do not walk around looking for people to pile-on and swarm, and most people do not respond well to “hey, let’s pile on this random Wal-Mart worker.”
Now that we understand this, we can see that the solution to a call-out is to simply be as non-responsive as possible. In a social media setting the way to deal with it is to simply ignore it until the crowd that has gathered for the call-out drama has dispersed. The people who gather around for drama will leave just as soon as there is other drama to attend to, and there is always some drama somewhere for them to attend to. Once you realize that the pressure is artificially induced as a method of trying to make you shut up it is a lot easier to just ignore it until it goes away.
If you are in a real setting where someone is trying to call you out at work in some public way, the simple answer is:
“if you want to discuss this in private that’s fine, but I refuse to allow you to try to put me on the spot and then pepper me with questions and accusations under the bright light of social pressure so you can rake me over the coals. If you want to have a real conversation then we will set something up, if not then I consider the matter closed.”
The thing you must remember in a real life situation is that under no circumstances will you answer any questions in public. If they want to schedule a meeting fine, if not then let it die. There might be some drama or tension for a while, but not nearly as much as there would be if you indulged them and answered their questions. After all, no answer you give will ever be good enough, so it is best to highlight the fact that the person who is calling you out is weaponizing social pressure and then refuse to engage. If they want to take a matter to HR then you can deal with the matter there, but under zero circumstances will you be handling the matter in public.
Call-outs can be difficult and scary, but if you remember that the pressure is artificial, the outrage is fake, and that call-outs run out of steam quickly if you don’t feed them attention, you can make it through without bending the knee to wokeness or fearing for your future.
Finally, You know who you are, what you believe, and what your values are. You know the truth about your own soul. So, when a woke person tries to call you out, or destroy your reputation, or smear you, then you absolutely must not bend. In doing so you will preserve your conscience, your dignity, your integrity, and you sense of self; and you will strengthen your sense of resolve.
Thank you for reading.
Good advice. When there are pile-ons I love it when I see screeds of "call outs", challenges, tired tropes and debunked myths trotted out but receiving zero replies. Life is too short to waste time engaging with bad-faith actors.
And if you can take away their power to intimidate you, to scare/coerce you into compliance, than you will have removed whatever power they held over you.