Call outs and anti-social empathy thread
1) For a long time I've been pretty pro- the "call-out culture isn't real" camp until I read a book over the summer about trauma and neurobiology that breaks down the concept of something called "anti-social empathy" (I talked about this awhile ago I'm thinking of going through and pinning some old posts so maybe check that later). Anti-social empathy is something literally everyone engages in, but some people operate more from that space than others.
2) I've been processing this book basically since I read it and it's totally changed my view on a lot of things. Like even the question of are abusers capable of changing, because the evidence to me thus far had been: no they are not. And it's true that the interventions we rely on by and large are insufficient.
5) Most of our therapeutic modalities in the US are attachment based. That means a lot of therapists are trained to see clients like hurt children and generally not to see how anti-social behavior is a universal human capacity, whether or not someone primarily operates from compassion or from anti-social empathy (because it is a spectrum), literally everyone does it. Schadenfreude is an excellent example of one way people get joy out of other people's suffering.
6) After reading this book I started to see anti-social empathy everywhere. Its striking looking back to me how much I normalized it and how much that caused me to fracture/dissociate in order to justify it. The book I read talks about this- how memory is fragmented in trauma because we are missing accurate mind maps of people. I invested so much energy into justifying people being cruel, self-righteous, and treating people like garbage.
7) Looking back, my struggle to incorporate this has been a long one. I relied on justification to help me satisfy the cognitive dissonance. But the question was always there. People say call out culture isn't real because people retain platforms and social capital. People say call-outs are just critique. I used to believe this myself.
8) For me to continue believing that that was the end of the story is to participate in fragmenting myself. The part of me that works from empathy and knows when I see anti-social behavior being used to gain power or to serve ego, versus the part of me that was invested in the narrative of call outs. Denying that call outs are used to humiliate and punish people was causing me so much internal stress.
9) None of this is to say that call outs have no place. I believe they do. I'm just also coming to believe in something more important and that is that we all have the capacity to directly challenge abuse and bad behavior (which I think we can frame problematic/oppressive behaviors in this light, because these are beliefs rooted in power) if we invest in learning how to do so effectively (that is, we are neither enabling nor are we disregarding the person's humanity).
10) All of this starts with rejecting the innocence of people who hurt people. Getting comfortable with the fact that everyone does shitty things and most importantly that WE do shitty things. Starting from the assumption that people are presenting masks for us and the "I didn't know what I was doing!" narrative is usually not true. They usually know exactly what they are doing.
11) Ultimately seeing things through the lens of anti-social empathy has been a game changer, because it gives me something concrete to ground myself in when assessing action. It's not that hard to tell the difference between someone who just wants to hurt or punish someone versus someone who is acting from their integrity.
12) Rejecting punitive strategies doesn't mean not critiquing people or holding them accountable. It just means we are aware when our strategies are being used to make ourselves feel powerful and self-righteous at someone's expense, versus when they are being used towards the growth and liberation of everyone involved.
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