The woke generation

August 9, 2020

We should be above all ‘woke-ness’ on petty concerns and talk about real issues

I’m in another Zoom meeting, but put myself on mute and turn the video off to do some multi-tasking. I listen to the conversation, have tea, and start going through all the tabs open on my laptop since the past week. I tell myself that today will be the day I read at least half of the articles I have opened, pick the one I feel strongly about, come up with a quick hot-take to post on my socials, and then call it a day once I feel the high that comes from all the likes. But I am distracted before I even get through the first paragraph of an article on Mark Zuckerberg’s disastrous decisions (you will see what I did there towards the end, so keep reading).

I forgot to mention that I’m also glancing at my phone and scrolling through my Instagram feed as I ‘focus’ on everything else. My attention is now on the gorgeous black-and-white selfies that quite a few of my Insta-female friends have posted with the caption “Challenge Accepted #womensupportingwomen.”

I like this trend. I want to support women. But more importantly, I want to make use of this trend to post a flattering photo with this filter that somehow hides all the facial blemishes. Maybe the photo will also capture the attention of this guy that I’ve been crushing on for a while now.

I go to my photo gallery and start testing out some of the selfies with this filter. In that moment, it is my turn to speak on the Zoom meeting, so I say a few words and also go through my Twitter feed and Insta stories as I deliver them. Oh, yikes! There are a lot of people criticising this whole black-and-white selfies’ trend. They are calling it performative and saying it does nothing to actually support and uplift the women in our lives (and elsewhere).

I think about it for a few seconds. That’s a fair argument. Even this week, I have done little to nothing to even cheer on some of the women in my life. In fact, I haven’t even responded to messages from some of my close female friends. I’ve only responded to that guy I have a huge crush on. Now I just feel bad and open WhatsApp to get back to them.

While I type a response to my friend and listen to my colleague talk about something I’ve lost track of on the Zoom call, my attention is on some other posts. Apparently, this #womensupportingwomen trend on Instagram was meant to create awareness about Turkish women who have experienced domestic violence. I am still unsure about this linkage and why this specific campaign was chosen to raise awareness on domestic violence.

While the how and why behind this message are unclear, I see that the tweets and Insta stories with this take are gaining major traction. Now I want to jump on this bandwagon instead. (Also, I can’t decide which selfie to post, anyway.)

I write an Insta story, which I will also use for a tweet, about performative social media activism and how it often sifts attention away from real social justice causes. But then I come across some tweets that are a supreme take on the same trend. This meta-take is a critique of the critiques of the black-and-white selfies’ trend. It addresses how unfair it is to shame someone for participating in a harmless social media trend and perpetuate a culture of unnecessary judgment and negativity.

But isn’t the meta-take tweet in itself an act of judgment? Now it has gotten far too complex and I need to get back to my actual work. Still, a part of me wants to associate with this camp because some of the people (with this take) are quite accomplished in my field. Maybe that’s the group I can get behind to earn my day’s likes. Actually, that’s not enough. I want my take to be the mother of all other takes, if that makes sense?

I don’t see how I can stand out in this trend so I will just have to be above all this woke-ness on petty concerns. I will be that person who actually talks about ‘real’ issues. The one who walks the talk, you know.

Since woke culture sucks, I decide to stick to my original plan of posting an article on Facebook’s disastrous decisions on my timeline. It’s been a while since I’ve said something about antitrust policies. I’ve even forgotten what that means in the context of Facebook, so there it goes — another tab on my laptop — to quickly refresh my take.

But first, I need to respond to my colleague on the Zoom call. I have no idea why he just addressed me. I can only hope it’s not about antitrust policies because I have yet to digest the Google search.

The writer works in the policy research and communications space, and tweets at @malik_warda7

The woke generation