Empathy is not endorsement | Dylan Marron

Empathy is not endorsement | Dylan Marron


Hi. I’ve received hate online. A lot of it. And it comes
with the territory of my work. I’m a digital creator, I make things specifically
for the internet. Like, a few years ago, I made
a video series called “Every Single Word” where I edited down popular films to only the words
spoken by people of color, as a way to empirically and accessibly
talk about the issue of representation in Hollywood. Then, later, as transphobic bathroom bill started gaining media attention
around the United States, I hosted and produced an interview series called “Sitting in Bathrooms
with Trans People” where I did exactly that. (Laughter) And then — Sure, I’ll take applause. (Applause) Thank you. And then, are you familiar
with those unboxing videos on YouTube where YouTubers open up
the latest electronic gadgets? Great, so I satirized those
in a weekly series, where instead I unboxed
intangible ideologies like police brutality, masculinity
and the mistreatment of Native Americans. (Laughter) My work — Thanks. One person applauding, God bless. (Laughter) Mom, hi. (Laughter) So, my work became popular. Very popular. I got millions of views,
a ton of great press and a slew of new followers. But the flip side of success
on the internet is internet hate. I was called everything. From “beta” to “snowflake”
and, of course, the ever-popular “cuck.” Don’t worry, I will break
these terms down for you. (Laughter) So, “beta,” for those of you unfamiliar, is shorthand online lingo for “beta male.” But let’s be real, I wear pearl earrings and my fashion aesthetic
is rich-white-woman-running-errands, so I’m not angling to be an alpha. (Applause) Doesn’t totally work. (Laughter) Now, “snowflake” is a put-down
for people who are sensitive and believe themselves to be unique, and I’m a millennial
and an only child, so, duh! (Laughter) But my favorite, favorite,
favorite is “cuck.” It’s a slur, short for “cuckold,” for men who have been
cheated on by their wives. But friends, I am so gay, that if I had a wife, I would
encourage her to cheat on me. (Laughter) Thank you. Let’s take a look at some
of this negativity in action. Sometimes it’s direct. Like Marcos, who wrote, “You’re everything I hate
in a human being.” Thank you, Marcos. Others are more concise. Like Donovan, who wrote,
“gaywad fagggggg.” Now, I do need to point out,
Donovan is not wrong, OK? In fact, he’s right on both counts,
so credit where credit is due. Thank you, Donovan. Others write to me with questions,
like Brian, who asked, “Were you born a bitch or did you
just learn to be one over time?” But my favorite thing about this is that once Brian was done typing,
his finger must have slipped because then he sent me
the thumbs-up emoji. (Laughter) So, babe, thumbs up to you, too. (Laughter) It’s fun to talk about these messages now. Right? And it’s cathartic to laugh at them. But I can tell you that it really
does not feel good to receive them. At first, I would screenshot
their comments and make fun of their typos, but this soon felt elitist
and ultimately unhelpful. So over time, I developed
an unexpected coping mechanism. Because most of these messages I received
were through social media, I could often click on the profile picture
of the person who sent them and learn everything about them. I could see pictures they were tagged in, posts they’d written, memes they’d shared, and somehow, seeing that it was
a human on the other side of the screen made me feel a little better. Not to justify what they wrote, right? But just to provide context. Still, that didn’t feel like enough. So, I called some of them — only the ones I felt safe talking to — with a simple opening question: “Why did you write that?” The first person I spoke to was Josh. He had written to tell me
that I was a moron, I was a reason this country
was dividing itself, and he added at the end
that being gay was a sin. I was so nervous
for our first conversation. This wasn’t a comments section. So I couldn’t use tools
like muting or blocking. Of course, I guess,
I could have hung up on him. But I didn’t want to. Because I liked talking to him. Because I liked him. Here’s a clip of one of our conversations. (Audio) Dylan Marron: Josh, you said you’re about to graduate
high school, right? Josh: Mmm-hmm. DM: How is high school for you? Josh: Am I allowed to use
the H-E-double-hockey-stick word? DM: Oh, yeah. You’re allowed to. Josh: It was hell. DM: Really? Josh: And it’s still hell right now,
even though it’s only two weeks left. I’m a little bit bigger —
I don’t like to use the word “fat,” but I am a little bit bigger
than a lot of my classmates and they seem to judge me
before they even got to know me. DM: That’s awful. I mean, I also just want
to let you know, Josh, I was bullied in high school, too. So did our common ground
of being bullied in high school erase what he wrote me? No. And did our single phone conversation radically heal a politically
divided country and cure systemic injustice? No, absolutely not, right? But did our conversation
humanize us to each other more than profile pictures
and posts ever could? Absolutely. I didn’t stop there. Because some of the hate I received
was from “my side.” So when Matthew,
a queer liberal artist like me publicly wrote that I represented
some of the worst aspects of liberalism, I wanted to ask him this. DM: You tagged me in this post. Did you want me to see it? Matthew (Laughing): I honestly
didn’t think that you would. DM: Have you ever been publicly dragged? Matthew: I have been. And I just said, “No, I don’t care.” DM: And did you not care? Matthew: But it was hard. DM: Did you not care? Matthew: Oh, I cared, yes. DM: At the end of these conversations, there’s often a moment of reflection. A reconsideration. And that’s exactly what happened at the end of my call
with a guy named Doug who had written that I was
a talentless propaganda hack. (Audio) Did the conversation
we just had — does it, like, make you feel differently
about how you write online? Doug: Yeah! You know,
when I said this to you, when I said you were a “talentless hack,” I had never conversed
with you in my life, really. I didn’t really know anything
really about you. And I think that a lot of times, that’s what the comment
sections really are, it’s really a way to get
your anger at the world out on random profiles
of strangers, pretty much. DM (Laughing): Yeah, right. Doug: But it definitely
has made me rethink the way that I interact
with people online. DM: So I’ve collected these
conversations and many others for my podcast “Conversations
with People Who Hate Me.” (Laughter) Before I started this project, I thought that the real way
to bring about change was to shut down opposing viewpoints through epically worded
video essays and comments and posts, but I soon learned
those were only cheered on by the people who already agreed with me. Sometimes — bless you. Sometimes, the most subversive
thing you could do — yeah, clap for him. (Laughter) Sometimes, the most subversive
thing you could do was to actually speak
with the people you disagreed with, and not simply at them. Now in every one of my calls, I always ask my guests
to tell me about themselves. And it’s their answer to this question
that allows me to empathize with them. And empathy, it turns out, is a key ingredient in getting
these conversations off the ground, but it can feel very vulnerable to be empathizing with someone
you profoundly disagree with. So I established
a helpful mantra for myself. Empathy is not endorsement. Empathizing with someone
you profoundly disagree with does not suddenly compromise
your own deeply held beliefs and endorse theirs. Empathizing with someone who, for example,
believes that being gay is a sin doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly
going to drop everything, pack my bags and grab
my one-way ticket to hell, right? It just means that I’m acknowledging the humanity of someone who was raised
to think very differently from me. I also want to be super clear
about something. This is not a prescription for activism. I understand that
some people don’t feel safe talking to their detractors and others feel so marginalized that they justifiably don’t feel
that they have any empathy to give. I totally get that. This is just what I feel
well-suited to do. You know, I’ve reached out
to a lot of people for this podcast. And some have politely declined, others have read my message
and ignored it, some have blocked me automatically
when I sent the invitation and one guy actually agreed to do it and then, five minutes into the call, hung up on me. I’m also aware that this talk
will appear on the internet. And with the internet comes
comment sections, and with comment sections
inevitably comes hate. So as you are watching this talk, you can feel free to call me
whatever you’d like. You can call me a “gaywad,”
a “snowflake,” a “cuck,” a “beta,” or “everything wrong with liberalism.” But just know that if you do,
I may ask you to talk. And if you refuse
or block me automatically or agree and hang up on me, then maybe, babe, the snowflake is you. Thank you so much. (Applause) (Cheering) (Applause)

100 Replies to “Empathy is not endorsement | Dylan Marron”

  1. This is so true, especially on youtube we have some useless people who really doesn't have any better things to do and they like to make unneccessary comments and using all kinds of bad words.

  2. Thank you for having the courage to share these ideas. I am one of those who thinks differently from you, but it is always intellectually good to hear both sides. I may not agree with your beliefs, but the ideas you are presenting are applicable for everybody, no matter the background.

  3. I love this talk, it's something I've been thinking about a bunch lately. Sure it's fun to own trolls who don't understand grammar or debates and live off their own hate, but it does no good. The last two months I've shifted towards letting them stew in their own hate. I hate no one, but I strongly dislike a few dozen people. Once I know that I don't like someone I separate myself from the person, they're just toxic to me and it's not worth the negativity. Hate just hurts you, why hold onto it?

  4. I feel so bad for writing this — but god, what should I write in the comments section to talk to you?
    You are wonderful.

  5. Given time tomorrow next year a decade or 100 years from now a cure will be found and all these issues will be non issues then how will this be looked back upon. Was it a good thing to humor mental disorders or did we not do enough or did we not do what was best for folks who developed this way. Watching this video what I see is a person with a fake smile and depression in behind that fake smile. I do feel for you and wish folks like you could be helped, there is always promise that help will come tomorrow. Stay strong and good luck.

  6. I actually got impressed by this guy and got his point and this is how we should talk with each other maybe you don't like me for any reason and I'm good with that but when you express yourself to me and tell me about it then you're going to have to talk about it you're going to have to give me more details about why you hate me and why you offende me but if you can't talk about it then you're not brave enough to even hate so if we talk we can understand each other and get to a common ground but if we keep on fighting we're going to get nowhere so he deserves to be fully respected as human being no matter what

  7. You edited down movies to only the words of non whites to show how not represented they are in Hollywood media? To suggest that is a problem is like showing the scenes of Japanese movies with non ethnic Japanese actors and complain about that. It's as illogical

  8. I got here after watching his series "unboxing —" from seriously.tv and i really dont get why and how he recieve such hate comments?? His content is great and i like how he say his points sarcastically, unfortunately not many people get it?? Or am i the one whos not getting his points?

  9. I agree with this video's statement. We truly need to respect others' opinion even in the internet. And I agree that we should acknowledge someone else's different point of views instead of bashing them.

  10. Empathy is not endorsement.
    I love that. Online, on Twitter especially, it's hard to not respond in anger. I've really found saying "why are you so angry, why do you have such negative idea of women, who hurt you?, etc." Usually, I get no response. Or "mind your own fucking business". But I keep trying. If I help one person, that's a good tweet. If I, at least, make them think, that's a good tweet.
    I learned something from you, thanks.

  11. I am totally surprised! This boy is so fun and so clear! The emphaty is the tool to talk to these people, and you understand that they write these kind of comments because they feel bad, they have emotional problems. Dylan destroys all kind of hate that comes from a person who are angry, angry with the world, and abviously, a person who are angry with himself.

  12. Well I’ve never experienced being criticised or bullied like that. But if it was me, I probably would do anything to get to know that person and try to understand why in the world would they do that. But if they’re just doing it for fun or without a reason……I DESTROY THEM. Mentally and emotionally.

  13. Dylan, I just watched your video twice and I have a very important message to you, are you "listening to me?" Here it comes: YOU ARE EVEYTHING IS RIGHT, BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRING AND AMAZING ABOUT THIS WORLD. Please, como to Brazil sometime, I would love to chat in person with you. Im a huge fan. Thanks for being so great! Much love from Curitiba.

  14. My impression was, that this Ted was mostly about you instead of giving people who really suffer under this an idea how to deal with that. Als it was way to simple. Bullying cause often even death threats and so on.

  15. Excellent!!! You're right not all feel comfortable speaking with those who say derogatory things online, but I believe you are a strong and powerful person to be able to do it. I am sharing this video with my daughters so they will not be afraid to be who they are. Beautifully done. Really.

  16. "I thought that the real way to bring about change was to shut down opposing view points through epically worded video essays and comments and posts, but I soon learned those were only cheered on by the people who already agreed with me."

  17. I always like the idea to talk with that kind of strangers, thank you have been talking with that kind of people, listen them and was discovering that)

  18. This is a very good point he makes. We are taught that being wrong is the worst thing we can be. So we are so closed off to even having a conversation with something and keep an open mind.

  19. Empathy is not endorsement, I support human rights and free will for all of us, period. My Christian believes will not change. That said, my husband doesn’t believe in God, his choice. Our views are different, but here we are. We can still love and respect each other.

  20. As a person who was raised in a conservative environment, i can say that liberalism is one of the dangerous thing that could annihilate my whole nation, that's what i've got from school.

    Well to be exact, i'm an Indonesian, and in the citizenship education (a subject that every indonesian kids have from elementary school to high school) in that subject we were taught that liberalism is a threat to our ideology. So yeah now i would say that i disagree with you and your thinking, not because you are a gay or u are a liberalist, but that what we (indonesian) supposed to do

  21. I want to let you all know that Dylan is just as lovely as he seems. I sent him a personal dm thanking him for being a huge inspiration and he texted back the same day saying things so sweet I wouldn’t expect them from my best friend. Thanks Dylan

  22. unfortunately most people taking part in online name-calling don't want to, or have the capacity to, have a conversation.  they are blinded by their beliefs and close minded to anything outside of them, refusing to hear anything contradicting such.

  23. This is fantastic, this is something more people need to embrace. I actually listened to this on Spotify, but felt like I had to come here and say that! Just a note, if you want to feel more courage in doing this, maybe call a person or two that is writing a positive comment as well!

  24. Ted, a billionaire manipulation project, part of the Sapling Foundation. It's just too bad that part of Ideas worth spreading doesn't include the Bills of Rights and I wonder what other ideas man and womankind have conceived that have ever so much changed the world as those laws of the people of the Untied States of America. TED, not quite the organization it pretends to be me thinketh.

  25. Well done and beautifully presented. You strike the right balance between assertiveness, acknowledgement, inquiry and grace, opening yourself up to talk the difficult but very reparative and healing talk. Thank you!

  26. Boomer here. My husband of 42 yrs is a bit of a nerd. He's an retired engineer. Extreamly intelligent, excellent in STEM. Decent, responsible and protective of his family.
    I'll take him Sunday over an ALPHA guy.

  27. I am moved by your courage to speak up and talk to them gently. I really appreciate your work! 🙂

  28. I really disagree with this guys viewpoints but I agree 100% with his stance here. The only way to make any real progress in society is to remember that the other person is, in fact, a human being and to treat them as such.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *