Raising kids in the age of call-out culture

Preen.ph tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists Marla DarwinRossana UnsonRonna Capili-Bonifacio, and Chrina Cuna-Henson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

Call-out culture is a social media practice that publicly names and shames to hold people, brands, or entities accountable for problematic behavior. It’s created a culture of weaponizing as a way to boycott and protest.

When it adheres to the principle of speaking truth to power, call-out culture can be a galvanizing force that can upend systematic abuse and shake a problematic status quo. That’s not the call-out culture I’m referring to though.

I’m referring to the everyday social media interactions that happen between people (usually strangers on the internet) commenting on particular issues surrounding politics. It’s something worth paying attention to because one can’t help but wonder how we’ve done away with nuance and empathy in favor of assertion and dominance.

It’s worrisome because we’re entering a point in history where we’re seeing internet behavior dictate behavior in real life (from boycotting consumer products to shaping public policies), for better or for worse.

I question call-out culture because of how normal it is and how it reflects how we as people lost the instinct to detangle and unpack complex emotions, thoughts, and motivations.

It has got me thinking if parents could help their children develop a more productive way to communicate and understand. I would like to hope that we can shape future generations to have a better grasp of responding to these situations.

Using my observations on call-out culture, I reimagine parent-child communication using the following:

1. The usual by-product of a call-out is cancellation. To “cancel” means to boycott. This kind of escalation shuts down any means of the “cancelled” to backtrack or correct mistakes. When we start applying cancel culture to people we actually interact with, it puts the canceller on a position of moral righteousness and the cancelled in a position of shame. For the former, they risk their ego supersede their cause, which undermines the cause. For the latter, they may end up feeling resentful and dig in their heels and stay steadfast where they are.

LESSON: To cancel is the last resort. We don’t shut down. We make the effort to understand where the other is coming from through curiosity and empathy. We don’t fast forward to indignant rage. We can go through the emotional spectrum of disappointment, sadness, or helplessness first. It’s through this process that we learn how to connect to each other again.

2. The civil rights activist Audre Lorde said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” When we react towards sensitive issues, the reactions come from a place where certain ideals are cherished. We value fairness, decency, kindness,and justice. I already mentioned earlier that when you let your ego win, no amount of eloquent arguing and rationalizing will matter if the manner of delivery is arrogant and aggressive. It takes more work to figure out ways to engage that shows that you do walk the talk,and that you do value fairness and decency.

LESSON: Taking the moral high ground doesn’t give anyone the license to behave however they want. This is something that parents have to internalize. It doesn’t mean that we sugarcoat or put on kid gloves. This is especially relevant during certain seasons in childhood where kids get so fixated on fairness and getting what they believe they deserve.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Tricia Guevera

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