I had a lot of time over the holidays to think about the state of the world, what’s going well, what isn’t, and what I could do about it. Like many of you, I finally caught the Big Nasty a few days after Christmas, leaving me with only enough energy to write an article telling people why they’re wrong on the Internet. A great use of my time, if you ask me.
Instead of constantly complaining about everything and waking up angry each day, I figured it would be a good exercise to write out a list of all the things that I think are wrong in the world – or even that annoy me deeply – and come up with a strategy to do something about them, even if my contribution was very minor – such as having a conversation with friends and strangers.
At the very top of his list is what I’ll call very generally “wokeness” or “wokeism”. There are numerous definitions of this term, and here’s mine: a person actively looking for things to upset them. Also, a person that’s unable to have a conversation with someone they disagree with without yelling, shrieking, or calling that person names.
Maybe this isn’t the textbook definition of wokeness, but I think it’s pretty accurate.
So let me ask, are we tired of being woke yet?
I have two theories about what’s actually going on right now, and they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. Let me explain…
Wokeness is real, and it’s a big problem.
Have you ever been on Twitter? Of course you have, and I think we can both agree that it’s often a really awful place. The Internet was always a polarizing medium, but nothing like what we’ve seen since 2016. We can’t just blame that on a certain orange president, either.
If the type of conversations we see on Twitter are an accurate representation of the population, then people are deeply concerned with using the correct pronouns, and any well-meaning person that slips up should face the wrath of the morally superior hordes. This is a place where cutting down people that are “ableist” is paramount, and where intolerance reigns supreme. The irony is palpable.
It seems like somewhere along the line, people stopped being able or willing to have a conversation with each other. The Internet was never big on nuance, but where once it was merely limited, now there’s nothing but a gaping black hole full of shrieking, name calling, and impotent rage.
I always liked the idea of charity in conversation, which is another way of saying that you begin a conversation with the assumption that the other person means well and isn’t there just to mess with you, even if that conversation starts from a place of disagreement.
Where is that same spirit today?
Perhaps we’re just not thanking the Elders enough for the use (theft?) of their ancestral lands.
Wokeness is made up (but it’s still a big problem)
How many people have you actually met in “real life” that are hell-bent on pointing out everyone’s moral failings or faux pas’, real or imagined? Personally, next to none, and this got me thinking an unoriginal thought that has probably crossed many of your minds already:
Do these people really exist in any meaningful way? Or are they a tiny minority that exists on Twitter, amplified by the media, to generate outrage and advertising dollars?
I think this one might be the answer, but I’m honestly not sure. There’s just too much noise for me to get a signal, and maybe that’s intentional.
Either way, this is destructive
Not only is this behavior destructive, it’s also extremely annoying, which is probably more important to me. I’m intolerant of people’s intolerance, and have to just hope that this isn’t the best we can do as a species – that this is nothing more than a bit of growing pains on our path to becoming a slightly less insane species. I’m not saying I actually believe this, but I hope it’s true.
Right now, we’re wasting so much energy on trivialities (yes, I know that we don’t all care about the same things, and things that are trivial to me may be extremely important to other people, but let me generalize for a minute, damnit) that it seems like we have little left over for actual, you know… constructive work, like solving the big problems that most of us agree on anyway.
I may not be a genius, but it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that yelling at each other all day and finding new and creative ways to get upset isn’t going to solve homelessness, gender inequality, climate change, or any other problem.