A reader asked:
Okay, but what do you do when you realize you’re being dehumanized?
I’d say a few things:
Notice that it is happening
- Pay attention to what’s going on
- If you feel horrible after an interaction, try to figure out if that person did something you know is dehumanizing
- Keeping a log can help, if your mental configuration makes that possible (for some people, a way that works is to send yourself emails when things happen)
- Telling someone else what’s going on can help, if you have someone you can trust
To the extent that it is in your power, get away from people who treat you like an unperson.
- Don’t hang out with people who don’t like you
- If you can, working for someone who respects you helps a lot
- If you’re living with a person who is treating you like an unperson, and you can move out, it’s probably a good idea
Don’t push yourself too hard to fix it
- Extracting yourself from dehumanizing treatment is really hard
- Sometimes, when you realize that this shouldn’t be happening, it can be tempting to think that it’s your fault for allowing it to happen.
- It’s not your fault
- People shouldn’t abuse you
- And it’s not your obligation to convince them to stop. They are doing something wrong and it’s *not your job* to solve this problem for them by teaching them how to behave. Even if you understand the problem and they don’t.
- And it’s important to get distance from people who treat you this way, but it can be really hard to do so.
- It’s not your fault that it’s hard.
- Don’t beat yourself up if a lot of time passes and you’re still surrounded by people who treat you like an unperson. It can be hard to resist.
- Don’t give up, either.
Try not to help people dehumanize you
- Part of the way dehumanization works is by convincing the targets that they’re not really people
- And also convincing them that all problems are their fault
- And that if they stay out of the way and do everything right, they’ll be almost human
- Remembering that you are a person helps
- Even when you have to do what they want and say what they want, you don’t have to believe everything they want you to believe
- You are a person. Anyone who doubts this is wrong.
Seek out the company of others who treat you like a person
- Any respect you can get helps.
- Even if it’s just online. Or just in person. Or just occasional.
- Even if it’s not particularly intimate. Finding people to discuss your rock collection with who respect your rock knowledge can help.
- And just – not everyone dehumanizes others. Some people know that all people are real.
- Interaction with people who know that people are real helps, both because it gives you experience being treated as real, and because it gives you concepts to notice and object to dehumanization.
Block and ignore people who are mean to you on the internet
- You’re better off without seeing their nastiness
- And refusing to engage with it is good practice for realizing people shouldn’t do that to you in person