The False Dichotomy Of Walk Up Vs Walk Out

As much as I’ve been working on diminishing my social media use, I still check Facebook a few times a day. And while I’ve done a serious culling of my Friends list, I still have people there with whom I differ on some social issues. While I value the exposure to different points of view so I don’t exist in a total echo chamber, sometimes these points of view irk me something fierce. And while I can ignore them and move along most of the time, sometimes they really get to me and make me fume. The irksome issue du jour is the #WalkUpNotOut movement which emerged as a response to the National School Walkout Day, or more accurately, the forced rivalry between these two positions.

The National Walkout Day is meant to memorialize the victims of school shootings and to raise awareness in favor of gun control. WalkUpNotOut asks that kids, instead of walking out, walk up to marginalized kids and make friends with them. The former is an act of protest, the latter an act of connection. Guess what: there is no mutual exclusivity to these ideas. You can both protest and connect with other people! Students can do both: walk up to other kids and they can walk out in memory of the shooting victims and in support of gun reform. Heck, maybe they can bring the walk-up friends when they walk out!

But harmony doesn’t get Likes or Shares, discord does, and the various memes and clips I see flying around my Facebook timeline are the kind that pushes for the walk up option at the expense of a walkout, the kind that seeks to shame the students who walked out in protest for not walking up, the kind that seeks to appeal to our baser nature.

Stop doing that. Stop promoting conflict, especially that created by people looking to divide us further apart.

Let me say this again: you can have both connection and protest, walk up and walk out. There is no dichotomy here. By all means, students, walk up to those who are marginalized and seek to connect, but go and walk out to protest in favor of gun reform and to end gun violence.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through
-David Bowie, Changes

Photo: Students participating in National Walkout Day walking on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, Washington DC by Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 2.0.


  1. If “walk up not out” is such a good idea, then start training police officers to do that instead of &%¤# shooting people in the throes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder because they’re displaying erratic or violent behavior. Gah.

    The Charleston church shooter who walked into a prayer meeting and killed 9 people said he almost didn’t do it because people walked up to him and were nice. Didn’t stop him from carrying out his massacre.

    “Walk up not out” also smacks of blaming the victim. Maybe if you had been nicer to the Columbine shooters — one of whom was undergoing psychiatric care — they wouldn’t have spent months stockpiling weapons and building pipe bombs. If only some young woman has been “nice” to the Isla Vista shooter, he wouldn’t have killed women he was attracted to and happy couples that he saw. See, it’s not the deranged maniac with a gun who’s a fault, it’s all of the people who were creeped out and afraid of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes! Exactly this. I was also thinking of the victim-blaming angle, but didn’t want to make the post too long. I hadn’t considered the police angle. Maybe I need my version of HUBRIS.


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