Online censorship picked up momentum over the last few years, and as a result, many suddenly had something to feel offended by. Are being woke, censorship, and cancel culture intimately connected by obscure puritanical roots, or is there a more sinister plot?
Social media was the perfect platform for a contemporary revival of public shaming and scapegoating, which have been around for centuries. An excellent platform to aggregate and steer the masses. World leaders and mainstream media never had it so easy when it comes to swaying public opinion.
What Does Being Woke Mean?
Being woke means being aware of and understanding the real world, observing, and paying attention.
Some may think it’s a fairly new term being thrown around, when in fact the phrase was coined by Huddie William Ledbetter in Scottsboro Boys, in 1938, and immortalized by a union official, in an article to J Saunders Redding, in 1942.
What exactly does being woke mean these days? According to online search results, the meaning of WOKE is being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues. I suppose it depends on who decides what is important, at any given time.
I wish being woke meant that we have pulled the wool off our eyes and clearly see that social polarization, inflation, poverty, unemployment, censorship, and inequality are at an all-time high because that’s the kind of wokeness we desperately need.
The Past Is A Land To Be Cultivated
Remember when some got busy taking down statues and monuments of Christopher Columbus, who has been accused of favoring colonialism? Has anyone stopped to think that during Europe’s era of discovery Columbus was doing what many other explorers, being sponsored by their kingdoms, were doing? Should we erase all mention of colonialism in history books as well?
From statues, and monuments we moved on to language and waged war on Comedians. We are experiencing a redefinition of humor. Some comedians have sounded the alarm, stating that cancel culture is killing comedy. Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders and others argue that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy. Has social media become a tool of oppression?
When the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out many chose to cancel Russian culture, by throwing great Russian philosophers, authors, and artists into the gutter in a gesture of protest. People seem so fickle to me when they make themselves so readily available to wave a new flag.
I agree with Italian Author Dacia Maraini when she states, in her book The past is a land to be cultivated, that canceling people and ideas of the past, because they don’t respect today’s sensibilities, is to deny history’s great metamorphic capacity. It means to defeat achievements, reject evolution, and dismantle the precious passages of time. It means we have entered a dangerous place in our collective mind.
As Spanish painter, Francisco Goya asserted “the sleep of reason breeds monsters.”
What will future generations make of this? How will they judge our actions in a few decades? Will they condemn our beliefs as archaic and out of place, the way the west condemned the group known as ISIL, in 2015, when they destroyed ancient temples, religious icons, and monuments in Palmyra?
Algorithms Of Oppression
Safiya Noble, in her book Algorithms of Oppression, discusses search engine bias in a revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms.
Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black women are so angry” presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.
I’m of the opinion that our democratic process has failed us, and that these modern cultural online movements, such as wokeness, manipulate people into taking positions that support actions that they might not have agreed to otherwise. A very effective way of controlling people, by erasing or manipulating history, culture, and language.
We could take Malcolm X’s quote and replace the term Newspaper with Social Media.
People have become afraid of terms such as working class and socialism, even equating socialism to communism. That’s what they want you to believe.
Call it whatever you want, but in the end, it is the difference between living the truth or living a lie that has been insidiously perpetrated and is being dished out as the absolute truth or the only acceptable one.
Many have fallen prey to the old strategic play: DIVIDE AND CONQUER. Think about it. It’s time for people to realize that they have the power. Let us remove these virtual leashes, and take our lives and conscience into our own hands.