1.30.2018

THE DANGERS OF CALL OUT CULTURE

This post should come as no surprise. Call out culture is an increasingly prevalent thing in our society. It is the practice, in social justice circles, of publicly criticizing people for violating accepted behavioral standards. Now, that doesn't sound all that bad. Shame those who need to be shamed and raise awareness of people deemed unfit to function by a culture's standards. A suitable punishment for most offenses. 

However, this simple and effective means of getting a sense of justice from a situation is too often turned into a blank check people can cash in on their enemies. In the beginning, when Tumblr was still a widely used blogging platform, people would "dox" and call out others with irrevocable proof to their actions. Things were clear cut and everyone could gather the information they needed about a person or situation from reading a post someone made. This got the job done.

People being brave enough to out people from their own personal accounts online, not just via word of mouth, is what makes call out culture so effective. We all know how the American criminal justice system works. It does not. So, to get any justice people (especially those in DIY cultures) turn to voicing extremely intimate details of crimes or abuses they've dealt with to get both justice for themselves and some start to closure, because as a survivor I can tell you there is nothing more painful than trying to pretend nothing ever happened.

That brings us to the latest fiasco going on in hardcore. The anonymous "hardcorepredators" instagram page. Let me start off by saying that I've seen better exposé journalism done by children who were tattling on their siblings. The account was ran by two people, whose identities we will get into later. Right now, let's break down what's wrong with this just from the surface level.
The bio. "#victimrights" is not a real movement nor is it ever going to be one. People who have been through sexual abuse are called survivors in all verbiage about them. That's day one stuff. 

"Making the world a better place" ...by drumming up a witch hunt, posting stories from third parties and people even when they asked to not have their accounts posted? Sounds like a great place. 

Notice, there's not one shred of identity to the people running the account in the bio. That's a giant red flag in and of itself. They could have been anyone. They wanted to make this safe for survivors but if you look at your social media you'll see nearly everyone talking about how much this constant barrage of "predator" information did nothing but trigger them. 

Now let's look at the content of the continually updating instagram stories they would post. This may be triggering to some so this is a content warning. 




 Okay, overlooking the poor vocabulary choices here. They say the stories must come from survivors*, not a third party but when reading their posts, it contained a lot of "my friend..." and "I heard..." statements. They weren't vetting the stories the way they claimed to be and that's highly problematic for such a topic. Obviously, they mainly wanted to get the information out there but there's a right and wrong way to do that. The way they kept updating every few minutes turned the page from "raising awareness" to trauma porn very quickly. Repetitive exposure to accounts of assault does nothing for anyone but bring up memories of what had happened in their past or make them recoil in disgust. 

The public records, this is what I find the second biggest problem with this entire thing. They posted the arrest records of several people as some sort of "evidence" against them. Now, with the exception of the guy who was charged with possession of child pornography, they were mostly violent crimes of non-domestic nature. One being a felony charge for destruction of property. My problem with this is that you cannot equate someone having a violent side or being a criminal of one kind to them being a sexual abusive person. That's a false correlation and an extremely dangerous assumption to make. 

Now, we have the this veritable "hit list" that was posted. (Blurred by me to avoid a lawsuit on my end, the unblurred version is out there. Find it yourself.) 
This is the original one, before they started crossing off names and changed the verbiage to "looking for more survivors." This is TMZ journalism at its finest. The sentence "need more victims" invokes anyone who has ever felt remotely victimized to say something pertaining to these people, relevant to the situation at hand or not. Some of the people on this list are well-known abusers who have made their exit from hardcore long ago (adam22) or have been outed for their crimes on a much larger scale multiple times before now (Curtis Lepore). The problem with posting a list and just asking for "stories" is the "blank check" I mentioned earlier. A poorly executed anonymous account that is more concentrated on just generating content than making solid call out posts is a weapon for anyone with an issue with someone else.

The biggest problem with this page and any page like this is simple: it does nothing for survivors in the end. Talking to just my friends and seeing their tweets, this event triggered so many people that it won't be remembered for any shred of good it could have caused. The people running it were insensitive to people asking for trigger warnings or to have certain things made private and that makes their intentions sit on a rockier foundation even without all the previous evidence against them. 


The email I was sent says they had nothing but good intentions. That something like this should be ran by a multitude of people who go through training and schooling and are qualified. Meanwhile telling a concerned survivor to "unfollow if you feel triggered." In reality, there should have been content warnings on everything and a slower release of information. The question is, was this a realization or something they knew from the beginning when asking for contributors via an instagram story? This of course will not be the end of holding those who break from the hard rules of society accountable. This account was never a safe haven because it very quickly became a gossip rag trauma porn mess that we all got to experience digitally. Like a catastrophic, first-hand episode of Black Mirror. 

If you take anything at all from this post, it should be that accountability and awareness is important but the safety and comfort of survivors is foremost. Too many people were hurt by this for anyone to call it a victory. Hopefully by writing this I can keep this bleak part of hardcore's history from repeating. 

Also, a personal note: I want to let all the survivors who contributed to this know how brave they are for what they've done. And those of you who have come forward in the past and those of us who have yet to do so, just living our lives is a sign and a symbol. None of us are ever alone and even when things like this occur and make you feel pressure to come forward, know that you're the only one who make that choice and no one should ever tell you otherwise. I love you.