I remember the days when I would start a conversation at a party with someone about climate change or women’s rights and watch their eyes slowly glaze over with boredom. To my relief, that all started to change the year before the election. You could imagine my excitement when people finally started to care about legislation that affected our daily lives. I was no longer the lame person at the party.
Leading up to the election, everyone suddenly became a tenured CNN political commentator, writing long-form Facebook posts and thoughtful Instagram posts. I had never seen Americans so passionate about politics and I was geeked!
Then, on November 8, 2016, I watched in horror as the results rolled in.
The “wokeness” surge made me wonder... where the hell were all these people who cared so much before the presidential election? Where had they been while injustice had been running rampant in our streets for years? Where were they in the fights for wage equality or immigration reform? Where were they for crucial midterm elections that handed over the House and the Senate to Republicans, who obstructed throughout most of Obama’s presidency?
I couldn’t help but be a little frustrated. I felt that people cared too little, too late. But then I was conflicted. Shouldn’t I be happy that people care enough now to inform themselves? Isn’t this better than no one talking about it all?
The election gave the internet something to constantly talk about. People were now reading articles, sharing their opinions on social media as a social justice expert, and thinking that is enough for the movement. Twitter was full of hashtags, from #BlackLivesMatter to #NotMyPresident to #Resist. Instagram accounts for everything from intersectional feminism to Latinx pride started popping up.
“Be the change you want to see in the world. Don't just tweet the change you want to see in the world."”
But what people don’t understand is that just because you tweet about equality doesn’t mean you are helping achieve equality. Your actions need to match your tweets.
I’m not saying that everyone needed to fly out to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March or that everyone can afford to spend time volunteering on the weekends, but it’s not enough to just post a selfie and say that you are a feminist. What are you actually doing to help advance women’s rights? Are you donating to Planned Parenthood? Are you volunteering to mentor young girls? Are you opening doors for women in your workplace?
“Woke Twitter” will probably crucify me for saying all of this.
Don’t get me wrong: I am extremely grateful that people ― at least now ― care about politics, equality and the environment, but I have noticed that some people on my timelines are acting “woke” because it’s the thing to be right now. You know, those people who will pretend to be enraged by sharing a video by the Young Turks about the wrongdoings of the current administration, but have never even voted. Being “woke” now is like being the popular kid in high school. It makes you feel cool and like you have contributed something to the world.
We no longer live in a world where tweeting a hashtag in solidarity is enough. It should’ve never been enough in the first place.
Vote. March. Donate. Volunteer. Organize.
Be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just tweet the change you want to see in the world.