Should we ‘call in’ people instead of calling them out?
There's a humane alternative to cancel culture
Countries differ as to what is considered offensive. For instance, an East Asian acquaintance of mine once casually remarked that she found it hard to tell apart European faces. I wasn’t in the least bit offended by what she said and she clearly didn’t mean to offend, but I wondered whether I should let her know that other people in this country might take a different attitude.
If I had, it would have been a very small example of what Professor Loretta J Ross describes as “calling in”. As the term suggests, it’s the opposite of ‘calling out’ — i.e. publicly criticising someone over some actual or perceived transgression.
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Her humane alternative is the subject a profile piece by Jessica Bennett for the New York Times:
So how does calling in work?
“Calling in is like calling out, but done privately and with respect. ‘It’s a call out done with love,’ [Ross] said. That may mean simply sending someone a private message, or even ringing them on the telephone (!) to discuss the matter, or simply taking a
That seems very reasonable — at least in situations where there’s no intention to cause upset.
However, there needs to a safe and discreet opportunity to do the calling in. Ironically, social media makes it easier to publicly condemn someone than to have a quiet word with them.
And there’s an even bigger obstacle — and that’s the ideological framing imposed by wokeness. If someone says or does something that genuinely needs to be challenged (a big ‘if’), then it makes a difference whether the offence is perceived to be an individual failure of awareness or if it’s automatically assumed to be a symptom of some wider group mentality. If the issue is made all about the transgressions of ‘whiteness’ or the ‘patriarchy’ or whatever the oppressive collective might be, then anything particular to the offending individual is of secondary or no importance. To the woke way of thinking, calling in is irrelevant to the bigger picture.
Calling in also implies a conversation – including the opportunity for the offending individual to defend themselves or even to express hurt feelings of their own. That too contravenes the laws of wokeness, where to deny whatever ‘ism’ one is accused of is itself proof of guilt.
In short, calling in is a great idea. But as long as wokeness is allowed to dominate the conversations that we need to have about race, sex and other issues, then they’ll begin and end with calling out.
“Calling in” might sound like a great idea to Peter Franklin but, to me, it just sounds like a soft version of Woke moral bullying.
The idea that someone transgressing the Woke code needs to be quietly told by a concerned friend to mind their words assumes that urging them to adhere to that code is the right thing to do.
Giving “the offending individual” the opportunity to defend themselves assumes that the Woke code itself is unquestionable ““ ie. people need their ideological errors softly pointed out to them before they get into deeper trouble. That tactic has been used on me personally and I found it patronising in the extreme.
So what, no one is allowed to find anything wrong with something you said, at all? It’s not the dogpiling and the witch hunts and the censorship that’s the problem, it’s the implying that you’re anything less than completely perfect?
Look, I’m disagreeing with you right now, am I therefore “bullying” you? Or do you think you can maybe stand one person telling you that they didn’t care for what you just said?
What are you ““ a 10 year old?
There should be a gap between something that is intentionally offensive and something that simply deviates from the vernacular of the moment. And the witch hunts and dogpiles ARE a problem since they often contain a “fire that person” mentality, even when no offense is intended.
I read this kind of stuff and I just want to walk off into the wilderness, never to return.
Yep, this is what social media has reduced our society to. It’s almost amusing to witness. Almost.
I’m halfway there.
I have been returning from the wilderness and find it very weird back here now. About 45 years ago I wandered off from a perfectly normal world and spent several decades in the wilderness, and when I had enough of that I came back, but the place where I left is gone, what have you people been up to to make it all so messed up? And why?
Funny that I thought, I was the odd one out! Perhaps we’re aliens?
Just follow my footprints Fraser, just as I’m following probably millions over the hills and far away
Miss the opportunity to highlight your own superiority with the wokeraty?
Never going to catch on.
” For instance, an East Asian acquaintance of mine once casually remarked
that she found it hard to tell apart European faces. I wasn’t in the
least bit offended by what she said”
I cannot even comprehend anyone being offended by this honest, and understandable, comment. I have a hard time telling Far East people’s faces apart, is that wrong of me? because I do not have this issue by choice. Or is it wrong to say what is real with me? Is he saying never tell a truth till you have washed it through several levels offense detection?
Your East Asian acquaintance must suffer from defective vision, a common complaint in that part of the globe.
How else could one miss blue eyes, blonde, and red hair for example?
To most Europeans East Asians do look very similar. One eye colour, one hair colour,
little body hair, diminutive genitalia, and short in stature.
FFS, what are the young people thinking? Calling out, calling in? You seem to live in a world where thinking is correct or incorrect and one must always be looking to point out errors in thought. My life has been exceedingly weird, living in many outlandish places and outlandish ways with many really odd individuals and groups. All this has me fall back on old fashioned Conservatism of beliefs. I have seen the fringe of all kinds, been down with them, been one, and realized the traditional is the one which makes most sense.
The weirder your life experiences I believe the more which was normal back before modern Liberalism seems reasonable. 10 commandments sort of stuff, right and wrong, rather than the situational ethics and relative morality of current thinking. Once everyone knew right from wrong pretty much, now almost no one does, and so they go about calling out and calling in over what ever stupid thing they currently have been indoctrinated in.
“”When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.”Substitute conventional morality for ‘God’, and you have today’s messed up people. And then they become all evangelical about it.
God didn’t put us on this Earth to perpetually air our moral grievances. Who are these people who have time to scour every corner of the internet to find things to be offended about?
It’s a shame that common sense and intent have fallen out of favor. There seems to be a small but frothing wing of people eager to pounce on any perceived offense, intentional or otherwise. The search for perpetual grievance must be exhausting.
That’s a lot like the way my employer teaches its staff to handle conflict.
There is a useful formula: “when you X, it makes me feel Y”.
De-coupling the action and the emotion – because usually (almost always) the action is not intended to trigger the emotion, and the emotion may itself be a result of factors outside of that particular situation.
Something the world seems to have lost sight of – or maybe we haven’t been sufficiently aware of in the first place – is the information loss in communication. The words and tone they speaker uses do not capture what they really think and feel, the hearer may not have the context to fully understand them, and themselves use and interpret the words and tone differently.
This is especially true of short-form written communication – like this comment!
Perhaps Peter, we can meet. I could then call you in, for the errors of your ways.
I would hope that you would understand that this would be entirely for your personal benefit.
The woke are left wing thugs and society needs to treat their criminal behaviours accordingly as we should treat any criminals.
Good comment, although I don’t think of the woke as criminals. I think of them as perpetual adolescents. Not that this makes the ideology any less dangerous. The extent to which it has infested culture, the arts, education, academia, politics, corporate human resources, the civil service, and the young, is deeply alarming.
I should add that one reason I liked your comment is that it’s structurally analogous to a thought of mine, which is that woke-ism is in many ways quite fascistic, and should be treated as such.
Probably a good alternative. However, as the article clearly states, this does not fall into what the “ism” culture wants. Debates and conversations is what is needed, however, most of us do not want to, or tries to find moral superiority through these channels of communication.
So you still tell others what they can think, just more politely
“Calling in” sounds great, but we’ve all got to remember that the “called in” also has the right to say “thanks, but no thanks” – and we should perhaps learn to accept that with humanity and tolerance. Your East Asian friend is the perfect example: should she be “called in” for stating the absolute obvious? Should the offended not realise that it’s their problem, not hers? I lived in Asia for years. At first I often found it very hard to distinguish the native population’s faces. After some years, they were just faces with all their wondrous variegation, and it was my own race that I found difficult to differentiate, as I didn’t have day to day contact with them. I suppose that makes me a “racist” against everyone!
(btw, I don’t think your East Asian friend runs much risk of being called in or out – her transgression was against white people. Most of us are now aware that it is tacitly encouraged to disparage this particular race at this uniquely oikophobic era now engulfing the West. What first-class entertainment as my own race eats itself up in self-hatred! Perhaps a first in human history?).
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