In the modern age, the regulation of speech and the ideal of wokeness are hot button issues both on and offline. In our increasingly divided society, it seems that some despise the idea of wokeness, deeming it a regulation of speech that is making people too sensitive. Others believe it to be necessary in a changing and increasingly diverse world. While I do believe a certain level of self-censorship is necessary and appropriate, the idea that people have to be perfectly woke to be considered good is a load of BS.
There is a certain type of language that I do deem highly offensive, and thus inappropriate to say both online and offline — I believe that no one is overly sensitive by calling out someone else saying the N-word, for example. For at least the last three or four decades, this has been a standard belief that the majority of the population can agree on.
However, with recent (often political) events, it seems that this culture of what is and isn't offensive is becoming highly skewed. Fellow liberals, especially online, attempt to cancel the slightest inkling of conservative thought. Freely stating opinions that differ from the political ideology one aligns with often results in Twitter tirades. Mistakes from decades ago that did not do any serious harm are resurrected to influence current campaigns.
The example that comes to mind is Justin Trudeau's blackface scandal. I agree that the act was racist, offensive, and done in bad taste. But by the way that it dominated headlines, you would think Trudeau was a war criminal. And while the scandal should indeed have been a negative factor towards Trudeau, I don't believe that he truly meant harm or ill-intent — Trudeau has had an excellent track record in progressive policy in numerous facets like climate action, immigration, and foreign policy. Ultimately he won reelection as prime minister, but he had to overcome the furor generated by (in the grand scheme of things) a minor incident.
While it may be hard for liberals like myself to agree with conservatives who criticize wokeness, take it from a progressive leader more than half the country misses: Barack Obama. Many people who participate in this cancel culture-esque wokeness believe they are the epitome of activism, champions of social justice, and that whoever strays from their ideal should immediately be labeled a misogynist, a racist, a homophobe, and so on.
However, both Obama and I agree this is not so.
Yelling at people who do not exactly follow this forward-thinking perfect notion does not do any good, and, honestly, probably encourages them to continue bad behavior. True activism comes from compassion and empathy, but still remaining firm in your beliefs.
Ultimately, I believe that wokeness at its core has positive potential — being sensitive to others' needs and experiences. But social media, social justice warriors, and identity politics have hijacked wokeness and turned it into something I do not recognize anymore. This new wokeness says people who don't fit the perfect woke mold are immediately bad people, and I don't agree with that. This may be naive, but I do believe that most people hold their beliefs with good intentions for everyone and I do not think it's fair to attack someone because their definition of good is different than mine. Does that not make me woke? Maybe so. But I don't think I am a worse person because of it.