Beau Mattner

Thoughts

Obama slams social media call-out culture as toxic

Being an asshole isn't activism.

Former President of the USA, Barack Obama, has criticised cancel culture, or call-out culture as it’s also known, saying the way to make changes isn’t through judgemental attacks online.

Obama, 58, was speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago when he expressed his aversion for ‘political wokeness’.

He said making real changes in the world is far more complicated than simply being "as judgmental as possible" about others – a trend on the rise on chat sites like Twitter.

While talking with actor and activist Yara Shahidi about "What can I do where I am?", Obama made it clear there is more to an issue than meets the eye, highlighting that nobody is perfect.

He explained:

"This idea of purity and that you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke — you should get over that quickly.

The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you."

Obama's opinion is that negative behaviour is not effective when a person is trying to make a positive difference. He went on to say it would be easy for him to post online about someone on social media not doing something right, or used the wrong word.

Obama said:

"Then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself.

That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far."

Call-out culture is a type of public shaming that appears to hold individuals accountable for their actions by calling attention to sometimes innocent behaviour perceived to be problematic, usually on social media.  It's a growing trend as people get more access to celebrities than they used to.

However, it's now being recognised as toxic, with activists such as Jameela Jamil claiming it’s "just about moral superiority" and is "just a new way to attack each other".