Katherine Cross wrote a really nuanced, challenging text for Feministing about the recent discussions around public shaming, online toxicity, and how call out culture is used and (mis)represented in articles:
The solution is not, I realized, to remain silent and wait for the storm of controversy to pass. There will always be another one. Those of us who have written, thought, or spoken about this — even in shadowed whispers — need to keep speaking out about call-out culture and toxic activism, both against the ideological purists who tell us we’re providing ammunition to the “enemy” and the professional scapegoaters who seek to farm clicks and book advances off of this issue.
I recommend reading the entire piece.
I am torn. I do think so-called “call out culture” is important in that it raises awareness on rights and wrongs that otherwise (and pre-social media) might go largely unnoticed. Often, the call outs are angry – and for good reason. I do think there are specific posts and examples where angrily “calling out” goes to far and moves into toxic territory (for me, that border is mostly crossed not so much by tone or insults, but in doxxing ordinary people, especially when they are high schoolers and younger.)
When it comes to judging very insulting, violent language, however, I also think that there are often a form of false equivalency. It’s not the same when I angrily tell someone to “fuck off and die” because the core of their identity bothers me (e.g. TERFS attacking trans women, or a white heterosexual male to a queer kid of color) or if you angrily tell someone to “fuck off and die” because I attacked your identity, your self at its core. (e.g. trans people ranting about cis scum.) Yes, often the discussion would probably be more efficient and civil if no one told any side to eff off and die. But I get that when your very self is under constant attack, you can’t always care about efficiency and civility.