The Toxic Side of Social Media
As a blogger and social media addict, I have unfortunately found myself the victim of Call out Culture. My experience was distressing, but let’s get into what the hell it means.
Riley. J. Dennis, a Youtuber, explains Call out Culture simply, by saying someone expresses an opinion be it on social media ( Blog/ Vlog/ Internet etc.) and someone perceives what they are saying as wrong, this develops by the person being called out publicly for their opinion.
I admit this can be a good thing. For instance, the person may not even be aware that they are making an offensive or problematic comment. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! Like it or not, we all make mistakes. A majority of people have that moment of realisation. When we were young and foolish, making stupid Facebook statuses, theres always a comment that brings us back down to earth, and we delete our stupidity. Stars like Louis Tomlinson have even admitted, ‘Twitter is great for connecting with the fans, it’s also great for saying stuff you shouldn’t’. We are all guilty of an ignorant comment here and there. This is why call out can be good, to bring us back to reality. It enables us to learn from our mistakes. The internet offers so much freedom, but with any bright sparkly invention, there is always a darker side.
Lets get personal. A few months ago I had a direct run in with Call out Culture. (No, I am not out for a vote of sympathy, I recognise that both parties were in the wrong. Also everything has been resolved.) As a budding writer, I have been reaching out to different zines and blogs to gain more exposure, and hopefully promote my blog and writing style. I contacted one zine, saying I was looking forward to submitting something for their next issue, and if there was anything in particular they wanted. They replied positively, and I got on with thinking of ideas. Then I got another message from them.
In brief, they told me they had looked at my instagram, and noticed that I was a white female, and that their zine only accepts submissions from women of colour and ‘femmes around the world’. I was a little confused. I understood the restrictions on submission, but I did not understand the phrase ‘femmes around the world’. I replied explaining that I thought this phrase meant women around the world, and therefore I thought I would be eligible to write. The messages escalated from here. I was told that these misconceptions had been made before, and it stemmed from my privilege as as a ‘white female’. They claimed that because I was white I couldn’t understand being told that I could not submit a piece of work. This was far from the truth, it was mainly due to the misunderstanding of the word ‘femme’, which is a whole other blog post.
In my agitated state I posted a pic of acceptance on my instagram. Within the post I made a vague reference to what had happened, but I did not directly name the zine, or anybody involved. I knew that I didn’t want the post to send a message of hate to anyone, I was just annoyed and confused at the situation. Then cue the hate comments. I was called out as a racist, and told by someone that I was immature and privileged. It didn’t take long until I took the post down. Looking back I do regret the post, as it came from a place of anger, which is never good. However the message behind it was positive, yet, the hate comments left me with no choice.
Nope, it didn’t stop there. I was messaged a couple of hours later and told to check out the zines Instagram if I could. I clicked on their story, and saw that I was directly being called out as racist. As I watched my instagram name being called out numerous times, and the title of ‘White Lady’ given to me, I felt disgusted to be myself. This had gone way too far, all over a minor misunderstanding, and follow up messages for clarification.
To end this I got in touch with the owner of the zine on her personal instagram. I asked her if she knew the affect she was having on , not only me, but my future opportunities as a writer, and my blog. After a long conversation we both settled everything, and the story was removed.
Racism is something I despise, and to be associated with it hurt me a lot. We all have to acknowledge that we are privileged in one way or another, whether it be through gender, class, or ethnicity. But we also need to keep in mind that we do not know the person on the other end of a comment. It’s taken me a while to build up the courage to write this. Call out Culture, in my opinion is toxic. It scares people into silence, and the opinions of equality and acceptance are lost in the sea of dominant voices.
We need to accept that everyone is human, we make mistakes, the important thing to look at, is whether we learn from them!