Bullying Someone Who Isn’t as Woke as You Isn’t Social Justice

By: Alia El Sherief

This is for all the self-proclaimed woke teens: can we cancel bullying people for being ‘less woke’ than us? In all seriousness, we need to have a conversation about why a person who isn’t as woke is oftentimes met with hostility rather than accountability and education. What is it exactly that’s achieved from being mean to said person? Social justice is about reaching a state of equal rights and opportunities for everyone. And bullying someone for not being woke enough by your standards does nothing for the fight for social justice, that’s for sure!

In our day and age wokeness is really important. Being aware of the political climate we’re surrounded by and the social issues going on around us is the first step towards a hopefully better future. But when someone isn’t that aware of some issues and you jump straight to making fun of them for it or being obnoxious about it, you’re not helping, at all. This isn’t in any way you achieving social justice.  

When you harass someone who isn’t as woke as you, you’re just making them feel bad about not being aware of something you yourself had to learn at some point in your life. Do you see why that’s messed up? Because you probably weren’t this woke your whole life. Surprise! We don’t come out of our mothers’ wombs knowing everything. In fact, no one really knows everything, and we’re all continuously growing and learning more about the world. So – again – what’s the point of bullying people who aren’t as woke as you?

Something important to remember is that as much as we might want there to be one, there is no handbook for all the right/woke opinions one should have about the world. We’re all trying to be good people and help change things for the better, but there’s no way for all of us to agree on a way on how to get there. There isn’t one ‘correct’ set of opinions. So maybe before attacking someone about something you consider less-woke, have a minute to think about it critically. 

That’s not to say you should excuse someone’s ignorant ideologies that are affecting real people and just sweep it under the rug for being a difference of opinion, absolutely not! A difference of opinion shouldn’t be about core values and human rights. Call people out on their bullshit, educate them about the topic, explain why their takes are problematic, and continue to hold them accountable for their actions. 

When you harass someone who isn’t as woke as you, you’re just proving that your activism is performative. There’s a vast difference between calling someone out for their harmful takes and holding them accountable, and just outright bullying them. One action is productive and the other is absolutely pointless. If you want to actually make change and fight for social justice, do the work. 

And I understand that continuously making the effort of trying to educate people when they’re in the wrong isn’t realistic. After all, that’s intense emotional labor and it’s exhausting. So, it’s completely fine not to be able or even want to help people understand why their takes are problematic, but it’s also okay to just not engage with them at all. Point is, you don’t have to be rude, it really isn’t helping anyone in the situation. 

Also, just as a side note, this whole article isn’t about people who are actively harming communities through their bigotry; like racist people who refuse to acknowledge their privileges or men who think women don’t deserve equal rights and so on. This is about people who might just be less knowledgeable about social and political issues.  

At the end of the day, harassing someone or bullying them in general just isn’t cool. Being woke isn’t a one-way ticket to being a good person. And being a bully in the name of social justice is definitely not the move. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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