Episode 2: Why are call-outs important? With Nash Tysmans (Part 2)
Communication is powerful. So let’s talk about it!
The Owls (Oya, Joza, and Mika) talk about why we call-out, how we can do so responsibly, and what we can gain from them. With guest Nash Tysmans, writer, teacher, and community worker.
NASH: What is the difference between cancelling people out and the tokhang, which is just governance by lists? Where you’re on a list and that’s a death sentence?
JOZA: Hello this is Give A Hoot.
OYA: I’m Oya.
JOZA: I’m Joza.
MIKA: And I’m Mika.
OYA: We are WiseOwl.
MIKA: WiseOwl is a consultancy firm that specializes in communication for social change.
JOZA: And today we’re going to continue our conversation about call-out culture. Sa last episode natin, we talked to Mae Paner of #BabaeAko. If you haven’t heard our first episode, we encourage you to do so.
MIKA: In this episode, we are talking to Nash Tysmans. She is a writer, teacher, community worker, and has quite a following online.
JOZA: Hi Nash. Why do you think it’s important to call people out?
NASH: We lack so many avenues for criticality, and that’s one of the things that a call-out culture can do. Parang it can help us be critical in a public space. Kasi when we think about what we want to change in a society, it really has to do with this public space where we’re all a part. So it’s important to do because at the end of the day, this is where we air out insights that we value.
OYA: I agree, I think social media has parang become a democratic space for people to have a voice, right? But when you call-out, there’s always a trigger.
NASH: Yes.We have to pay attention to the triggers, the things that move us. Kasi that’s how we also gauge what is valuable to us and what is not.
OYA: What kind of reactions do you get when you call something out?
NASH: Based on my experience, it comes from a space of concern, and the person that comes to mind is the late film critic si Alexis Tioseco. He really talked about parang our responsibility to the industries we’re in to be critical of them. But criticality not because you want to destroy nga people but because you love this community. If people know that you’re not out to get them, you’re out to raise this because it’s for everyone’s good, then people listen to you. So even for me, it’s become a way to actually gain more friends. And not just friends who believe in what I wrote, but friends also who are on the other side of the fence. Although I guess that’s not the norm.
OYA: It can get rather hostile.
NASH: I think the problem with the online space is that it encourages anonymity. Parang what’s important to me in this call-out culture is really a sense of accountability. Kasi normally it gets hostile when people are anonymous. Eh hindi ba the point nga of a call-out is that you want to change something. So, what is it for? You threw a stone in the water, you created these ripples and then what?
OYA: Part of the call-out is like making somebody accountable for what they say. How do you, as the caller out, become accountable also?
NASH: Emotions really drive engagement online. But for me, it’s not a good gauge of engagement. What is more important to me is that after we call-out, we sit down, we get together, and we discuss why is this wrong.
JOZA: As a person who calls out, ano yung gusto mong ma-achieve by doing so? I think we have to make it clear. Kasi minsan ang nangyayari, galit lang talaga ako, ‘tas magco-call-out ako. Bahala na whatever happens in the end, ano mang end result.
OYA: It’s like venting lang, diba.
NASH: For me it’s very important, number one that I don’t call-out just because I don’t like a person. It cannot be personal because if it’s personal, at least according to my standard, it should not be public.
OYA: But Nash, meron talagang mga ganyan. We know them as trolls now.
NASH: But that’s the thing nga. Back to your earlier point about seeing social media as a democratic space. I think you can’t just say na may trolls. I think what’s important is we rein the narrative back in. And we push, we drive the conversation. You should be accountable for the concern you raise, right? Diba they keep saying think before you click? I think yung mahalaga on the point of anonymity is if I’m critical about something or someone, I should be able to tell you to your face. I really have a big problem with the things you have out there. It’s very important to me that I don’t just rant or throw shit on the wall because I can.
MIKA: So okay, the first thing I like about what you said is you make it a point that it’s not personal. But I’ve also seen you call people out even if or because they’re your friends. And the second one is you also said, there are times when you call out, that it’s not necessarily online. So, how does that kind of work and how do you think through that?
NASH: The measure of our friendship is me being able to tell you, hey Mika, you’re bullshitting, right? And that’s something I can do because I expect that you do the same to me. Balik ka nanaman sa sino ba yung maaaffect? Kasi if you have a microphone you really think about who listens. What is the value of telling all these other people that there is an issue here when they don’t have a stake in the issue anyway? If I want to achieve a change, how do I get this change? People who are called out, we cast judgment on them eh. And what I don’t like is when the public is the court. Ikaw na ang nag call-out, ikaw pa yung nanghusga. Therefore, the person being called out is painted into a corner and doesn’t have any recourse. Where does the conversation happen in a space like that? Where the person you’re accusing whom you want to take accountability is not given that space to be accountable either.
OYA: The person who is accused or called out the reputation gets ruined and all that. You see call-outs as an expression of your values, but it’s what happens after that eh.
JOZA: Parang kaya mo siyang control-in up to a certain point and then after that, nagiging minsan nagiging big monster na siya na hindi mo na alam how to go about it. A lot of people kasi minsan iniisip nila dahil feed nila, they can just say something then just goodbye everyone.
NASH: Alam ito ng mga nagto-troll sa page ko. I’m very undemocratic about that. In the first place, it’s my living room. If people shit in my living room, I delete. And then, if they’re my friends, I message them and say, I’m sorry I deleted your comment kasi it doesn’t help eh. I have to do that because if I raise it, I have control over the moment I send the post out until something happens. And I learned this the hard way. Ang sa akin lang, ayoko yung sentiment na we can’t control it. I think when you can’t control it, that’s because people don’t want to be responsible. And sa akin, kung ganon ka, huwag ka nang mag call-out. Kasi ano ka lang, noise.
MIKA: There has to be a recognition of the power of calling someone out. You have a platform, you’re online, people can search you, people can share you. You can start or stir the pot, as you said. And so you need to be able to recognize that power, and you need to be responsible for that power of your voice. And the responsibility happens even before you write something up and even before you post. Ano ba yung nangyari dyan, what do you wanna achieve? Is this really the platform I wanna use? And then after you’ve started it, you cannot just let it go like that. You have to have empathy.
NASH: It is also such a big responsibility to put on the shoulders of individuals who call-out. I would put the onus less on the individual but also on the community, on this greater public. You know, sitting in traffic makes me rant a lot. So I always have kuda because, you know, it’s six hours in traffic. And that’s what I appreciate about my friends. They also manage to reel me in and say, wait lang. What are you trying to do? I mentioned that because sometimes nga the call-out culture becomes what that person said versus what that person said. And then people start commenting, okay I’m bringing out the popcorn now. It’s funny kaya lang I always get stressed kasi I start to think, hey wait so we’re happy to let these people hash it out like gladiators in an arena? And we just kind of sit there and watch this massacre happening and parang I don’t think that’s fair.
MIKA: How do we differentiate between a call-out and a kuyog or a lynch mob or basically haters gonna hate or trolls, ganyan, bullying?
NASH: A call-out is an act. It’s very temporal. Once you’ve said what you need to say, it’s out. Tapos na yung pag ca-call-out. The kuyog is the angry mob that reads your post and remembers all of these angers they had inside, and suddenly everybody’s angry. Siguro ang sa akin, I bank on the fact that our memory as Filipinos is very short. So pag kinuyog ka, hang in there. Kasi people will forget. Ang bullying na nangyayari online is also just reflective of what’s happening offline. It’s a distinction between how do we manage the online space, and how do we manage the offline space. I have a few friends na when they post stuff online, they’re so angry, they’re so crazy, rrrrr angry angry angry. And then you meet them in person and they’re like teddy bears.
JOZA: Minsan feeling ng mga tao makakalusot ka online compared to real life kasi hindi real life yung social media.
NASH: But at the same time, it’s also a space where people who didn’t have a voice before are heard. If you are a responsible citizen, it can’t not have an impact on how you operate in the spheres of influence that you have. I don’t want to see a difference between those spaces. How you are offline ought to reflect how you are online.
JOZA: Dito sa magulong space ng call-out culture, are there clearcut things na we can call out? Like for example, something sexist or something racist?
NASH: I think there are some clearcut things I will call out because I have certain values. I look at morality kasi or the idea of right and wrong as a series of norms, and norms evolve with time. To me it’s that. It’s not that there are clearcut things we should call-out. I think every time and space will have those kinds of issues. But I think if it’s important to people to talk about certain things, there should be a space to bring it up. We should have conversations because that’s also where norms develop or are challenged.
MIKA: And sometimes a call-out is the start of that conversation, right. You need to invite people to reflect, to push, to ask questions, to challenge.
JOZA: Pero we have to make sure na by calling out, magiging productive yung conversation between the caller outer and the audience.
NASH: Minsan pag nagco-call-out ka, hindi rin naman clear sayo kung ano talaga yung objective eh. People are not able to fully articulate where they ‘re coming from. And then what I notice with call-out culture is the call-out transforms into kuyog where it’s just about a dominant narrative being propagated. Pero parang ang inisip ko nga, it’s not just about what we say, but also the kinds of silences we permit. Okay baka yung kulturang iniisip ko dyan yung cancelled culture. That’s when you don’t achieve anything. Ang gusto ko nga sanang mangyari, we engage with the uncertainty, the messiness, the fact that not everything is clearcut. We won’t fix all the problems overnight. Maybe there are experiences that we have to deal with first. Yung mga bagay like rape, on the one hand you want to listen to the abused and the oppressed, but you also want to be able to raise better men. You have to be able raise women who are able to articulate consent.
MIKA: It’s kind of what we say when someone is cancelled meaning ayaw na natin sa kanila. They said something, they did something wrong, ang toxic mo or you’re on the wrong side of history. Connected to that din yung what’s coming out online, yung receipts. Ito yung mga screen cap ko, mga ginawa mo before. Even when you were like sixteen. You’re judged because this was your life online.
JOZA: Even if you actually learned from your past and became a better person, pwedeng kunin ng internet yung past mo and then ibalik nila sayo. And then automatically even if nagbago ka na, hindi na ikaw yung tao na yon, wala ka na.
NASH: And that’s why I’m so careful about this call-out culture. There’s this nice quote where you have to be careful because sometimes you turn into the monster that you hate. Kasi ganon siya eh. You use certain words a certain number of times and then nagkakaroon nga ng norms. Nagfoform yung norms. What is the difference between cancelling people out and the tokhang, which is just governance by lists. Where you’re on a list and that’s a death sentence. I see it as a reflection of the fact that we never get justice. Traditional forms of justice will not give me the catharsis I need. You’re so angry. Walang hustisya, therefore diskarte natin lahat kung paano nangyayari yon. In this social media space, you get this catharsis.
MIKA: It’s an exercise of very limited power. If there’s something that I can do to parang balance the scale a little bit, make life a little bit harder for these people or make life a little bit harder for this organization who has maybe wronged me or wronged a community or wronged the tribe, whose done something I don’t agree with. My values are not aligned with what has happened but I don’t know where to go. Or I kind of know where to go but that system does not work, then I go to the call-out.
NASH: I think the act of calling out is an interrogation of power.
OYA: It’s sounding a lot like what people would call a protest. Is it actually one and the same, a call-out and a protest?
NASH: In some ways, the call-out can translate into a protest, but that’s also what I like about this culture. Na parang marami siyang pwedeng manifestation. Pwedeng nagiging protest siya. Pwedeng nagiging space siya to dialogue.
MIKA: There has to be a balance where the offline world reflects the online world, and this is kind of how conversations happen. Conversations are messy. We bring in our context, our histories, our own traumas, our own interpretation of the world. And then we bring it to the table. But the important thing is for us to really carve out that space where the conversation is civilized and sober. And hopefully maybe it doesn’t lead to like yung nga lynch mobs and haters and bashers.
NASH: That’s why nga yung call ko parating let’s be compassionate. Kasi yun nga eh, can you blame a victim if their only recourse is to go online and say, look this happened to me. Hirap non.
OYA: You’ve mentioned about each particular call-out is an individual case. In a way you’re saying generalized solutions sometimes don’t apply anymore. Are there really no solutions that can be applied across the board to problems?
NASH: When I said that it was not generalizable, it’s because the call-out culture in and of itself has not really been defined in a way that all of us understand what that culture is. So ang nangyayari nga, you have manifestations of it that you or I think are call-out, but for other people it’s not call-out. So I guess what I meant when I said you take it on a case-to-case basis is you really look at call-outs as a channel, as a way to get particular messages out. Pero tama rin yung sinasabi mo na there has to be rules. The reality nga is that you have all these social structures that impinge upon you. You have your family, the church, if you’re a member of the church, your barkada, etcetera. Lahat sila may influence doon sa na-pe-perceive mong behavior. Once you are able kasi to analyze that, you’re also able to see your agency as a person. Na parang, okay, there are a certain number of things I’m not in control of, but there are also a certain number of things I am in control of. So I guess this is what this whole conversation is about. It’s knowing what are my spheres of influence? What can I control?
OYA: Or things that I have no control over but I can raise questions about.
NASH: And sa akin that’s very important eh, that we raise questions. When somebody says wala na akong control. Talo na. It’s super contagious. Everybody suddenly feels talo na, diba? And then balik ka nga doon sa kultura na you have a Marcos dictatorship and the corpse is still haunting us. It’s dead, but it’s still alive in our collective memory kasi nga hindi na-reresolve eh. Yung kultura ng fear and kultura ng courage, I think they’re two sides of the same coin. In the same way that fear is contagious, courage is also eh. Which is why I feel like we have to ask difficult questions, have difficult conversations. If you see somebody who asks this difficult question, it’s easier for you to talk about na.
NASH: But can I complicate matters some more? I think in an effort to polish these things out, parang we also subscribe to a certain way of telling a story that doesn’t always let out the truth. Ang sa akin kasi, if somebody is offensive or says something that offends you, parang before you get mad at that person, what I’ve learned to think about is why does it offend me that this message is said in this way? So kung offensive nga, parang kailangan din pakinggan diba? And that’s why what I’m calling for is a kind of space that we build where we can have uncomfortable conversations, diba. Even if we just sit and be quiet and awkward around each other. Dahan-dahan. So if I’m angry, you should allow me to be angry. Don’t take that away from me. Kung galit ka ‘tas sinabi mo sa kaibigan mo, relax ka lang. Diba parang… How dare you tell me to relax?
MIKA: Circling back to kaninang cancelled, receipts. Those things don’t allow for that kind of a conversation. Kasi you’ve already passed the judgment and there’s no space for forgiveness. There’s no space for growth. There’s no space for learning. There’s no space for conversation, really. And that’s something that we have to be very mindful to try to avoid. Kasi yun nga, to your point. We don’t want to be the kind of monsters we are fighting against.
JOZA: Sobrang naka-relate ako doon sa idea na hindi ka na-a-allow minsan to express your anger or your frustration. And actually yung world na relax. Uy relax ka lang. Almost very close na siya to the idea of cancelled. Kasi in a sense, it’s something that nag-ta-try ka mag-open ng conversation by saying na ito yung maling nangyayari sa paligid mo, and then somebody says, dismisses you, na parang relax ka lang. Hindi nag-li-lead to a better conversation.
NASH: I also don’t want to give people the impression that having these conversations is difficult. It can be as simple as, how do you feel when I say this? Can we talk about it as friends and say, have you ever felt this way? Less to judge the person and actually listen. Yun yung point na gusto ko rin i-bring across. Na so much of the call-out culture is a result of the fact that people are also not listening to each other also. Which is why nga it becomes call-out, it becomes kuyog. It’s yelling eh. Let’s listen to the people who are yelling. Bakit ba sila nag-ye-yell? Ah kasi wala silang space to voice out these frustrations, therefore how can I be a better listener? Beyond the medium that is trying to bring out the message, what is the message that I’m being told to pay attention to? And siguro yun yung related dito sa pinaguusapan natin because this is really a space to think about what we’re communicating, how we’re communicating. But let’s not forget that all of us, by virtue of being human beings, are communicators. We all communicate, all the time.
MIKA: So, the call-out culture makes us think about how important accountability really is. Not just for those getting called out but those doing the call-out. That when we’re calling out, let’s first stop and think, is social media the right platform for this? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. What’s important is that we remember that it’s an opening for a conversation. Hopefully, one that is honest and constructive.
Thanks for listening to our second espisode. And, thank you to the people who made this possible, to PumaPodcast, the Spark Project, and our backers. A special shout out goes to Carl Javier, our producer, and Marc Casillan, our sound guy.
OYA: I’m Oya.
JOZA: I’m Joza.
MIKA: And I’m Mika.
OYA: Give A Hoot is a podcast for communicators about social change. Please listen to our future episodes. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so.
JOZA: And, look for WiseOwl PH Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium. You can visit our website: wiseowl.ph. And we’d love to hear from you, send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIKA: Use your voice. Give a Hoot!