As a general rule, I never argue semantics with people. I find those debates to be the least productive conversations in existence. Because when people just argue about the words they’re using, there’s no room for anything of substance. It just devolves into a shouting match between whose definitions are more valid.
This happens a lot in comments sections, political debates, and arguments that get completely derailed. But lately, I feel like it’s happening for even dumber reasons than usual.
One reason, in particular, that keeps coming up has to do with the definition of a very particular word. Now, brace yourself because the word I’m about to use is bound to invite all sorts of anger, vitriol, controversy, and disdain. It’s a word I’ve heard well-meaning people use as often as trolls and grifters. But it’s a word we can’t seem to escape, let alone define.
That word is “woke.”
I know. I just alienated 95 percent of the internet by typing it out. I understand that I just invited the most hateful/idiotic/misguided assholes to endlessly whine about how I’m some sort of agent of a secret cabal bent on destroying Western civilization.
To all those people, go fuck yourselves.
Seriously, fuck off to the end of the multiverse and stay there. You’ll be doing the human race a favor.
But I’m still going to talk about the word “woke” because it’s been thrown around more than empty condom wrappers at a brothel. It’s said at least 100 times a day on right-wing news outlets, usually as an insult or something meant to discredit a certain position. It’s often used by politicians, grifters, trolls, and many other objectively terrible human beings who seek only to harass, demean, and denigrate anyone who commits the high crime of disagreeing with them.
It’s also used by a lot of people who really don’t understand it. Some of those people are entirely well-meaning. I’ve heard my own parents use the word, often with a sense of exasperation and frustration. Now, I love my parents to no end. I even know they visit this website.
But seriously, they do not know what the word means and the way they’re using it is not that different from how asshole trolls use it. So, to that non-asshole contingent that includes parents, friends, and other well-meaning people, I’m here to clear up the definition of woke.
Since nobody will believe me if I cite a dictionary or some other source on the web, I’ll just keep it simple. Brace yourself again because I’m about to reveal the true meaning of woke and it might just make you uncomfortable.
Woke: To be aware of the political, economic, and social injustices within a system and to advocate efforts to rectify those injustices.
Seriously, that’s it. That’s what the word means. That’s what the concept has historically entailed, long before Fox News began using it to bemoan every single policy that dares help someone who isn’t a straight white male billionaire.
It’s just a way of denoting a real understanding about the injustices in the world. Those injustices cut across many walks of life, extending to race, religion, sexuality, gender, and so many other distinctions.
And those injustices are real. You can prove it. You need only look at census data and history books to find it.
Most decent human beings understand that such injustice is wrong. Most also understand that in a fair, just, and civilized society, we should work towards righting those injustices and preserving whatever mechanisms ensure such justice. That helps everyone at every level.
People against such an idea are usually people tend to not want to change things, mostly because the current situation benefits them in some way. Sometimes, they’re just people who want an excuse to not change anything they’re doing, either out of laziness, apathy, or spite. I’m sure there are other distinctions, but I won’t speculate on the particulars.
So, with this in mind, I ask this next question honestly and sincerely.
Are you going to change how you use the word “woke” and how you react to it?
And if not, why?
Seriously, why is it wrong or controversial to be aware of the various injustices in this world?
Why is it wrong to want to try and fix those injustices in some meaningful way?
I don’t deny that some people go about it the wrong way. There’s a time and a place to argue the gender and sexuality of video game characters, but this isn’t it. This is about real injustice in the real world.
And if you understand this concept and still think woke is a bad thing, then I don’t know what else to say other than think hard about what you’re protesting. And if that’s still too much for you, then just fuck off.