The Problems With Being 'Woke'

Woke, a word used to describe someone who is aware of current affairs and, basically, knows what’s going on in the world. The term has gained popularity since social and political movements have grown across the world and injustices are becoming more discussed amongst young people. The term is thrown around a lot on social media, being used as both a compliment and an insult. A compliment to praise people, often celebrities, who give a damn about social injustices and use their platforms to speak out. An insult to imply that someone is taking things too deeply, is easily offended and is, perhaps, not understanding an issue fully. However it’s being used, there’s no denying that the word ‘woke’ is being used more frequently and has resulted in most people becoming more switched on and feeling more passionate than ever about bringing about change.

Although it’s important to have an understanding of the issues affecting, not just your community, but the whole world, being ‘woke’ has downsides.

1. You are unable to switch off
Once your mind is opened to the acts of oppression and injustices happening every day, it’s impossible to stop thinking about them. Often, seeing countless videos of people being murdered and reading stories of human beings having their rights snatched away from them can make you desensitised to the issues but, what people don’t realise is that it can actually make you care more. Once you’ve watched a video of a little girl being separated from her parents, your mind thinks of nothing but that little girl. Once you’ve seen horrific pictures of people being kept as slaves in 2018, all you can think about is the painful lives they must live. Once you’ve witnessed one homophobic rant, you can’t help but lay awake at night, wondering how LGBTQ+ people can find the strength to be themselves. Being ‘woke’ leads to obsession, obsessions with social issues and those affected by them. It takes over your life and results in you being unable to live a ‘normal’ life in your own bubble. Ignorance is no longer bliss.

2. It affects your friendships and relationships with family members

Once you’ve learned the rights and wrongs and the things you should and shouldn’t say, you begin to notice things that you didn’t before. You pick up on the racist jokes your family members have always made, the transphobic slurs your friends use without thinking and the close-minded ways in which they discuss marginalised communities. It can often lead to you being torn as, on one hand, you want to call them out and educate them but, at the same time, you don’t want it to be taken the wrong way and to make things awkward. Whilst some may welcome the life lessons, not all will and can, consequently, think you’re personally attacking them. Not everyone learns things at the same pace, meaning, whilst you may be fully clued up on everything bad in the world, your friends and relatives may be a bit behind and confused as to why you care so much. Friends will ask you why you hate white people because you’re calling out racism and relatives will ask if you’re gay because you support LGBTQ+ rights. Becoming woke can lead to once strong bonds being broken, especially when people fail to understand the errors of their ways.

3. It’s exhausting
Constantly speaking out, having an opinion and actively involving yourself in world issues is draining. You feel like you always need to be doing something, whether that’s reading, tweeting or protesting, and it’s also very overwhelming when you have a different perspective on the world that allows you to see it for what it really is. You can’t help but notice the hatred, the violence, the oppression, the pain and the lack of social change, which is both emotionally and mentally tiresome. It can be tiring educating people, correcting them, immersing yourself in the day’s news because you feel like you can’t change the TV channel and constantly learning and evolving yourself.

4. It takes the fun out of things

Being ‘woke’ leads to a new outlook on things that used to be fun, such as TV shows, music videos and movies. You are no longer able to enjoy things passively without analysing every message put out or noticing that something isn’t done how you think it should be. It especially ruins pop culture in the sense that you see people for who they truly are. The ‘woke’ part of your brain absorbs artists’ song lyrics, jokes in interviews and clothing until you realise that, people you once loved, are problematic. It can be frustrating, too, when you are ‘woke’ yourself and take the time to speak out about social issues yet those with large platforms, many of whom you used to idolise, don’t utilise their followings.

5. There’s no room for mistakes
Once you begin using your voice, it’s as if you’re placed on a pedestal and assumed to know everything about everything. We’re all human, therefore, we all make mistakes. Even the most ‘woke’ of us all slip up, get involved in dramas, say things that aren’t politically correct and speak before they know all the facts. However, once people are aware that you know a bit about the world around you, they give you no room for errors and seem to love reminding you of that one time you made a mistake, even months later. It can be frustrating, especially when being ‘woke’ is not about having all the answers. If anything, it’s a journey. It’s about learning and growing as an individual as the world around you evolves too.

6. You feel like you can never do enough

The most infuriating part about being ‘woke’ isn’t about having to get up early to attend street marches, having to constantly correct someone when they use the wrong gender pronouns for another person or reading so many educational books that you’re unable to fit them all on your bookshelf. The worst part is actually emotionally agonising, and it’s the fact that, no matter how much you do, you always feel helpless. You long for someone to give you a magic wand so you can cast a spell and annihilate the world of pain and problems but, alas, that isn’t possible, leaving you to just keep tweeting, talking, turning up and doing your part to make the world a nicer place. As much as you tell yourself, “no one can do everything, it’s the little acts that count,” you just always want to do more.

So, those are the struggles that come with being 'woke,' however, no matter how hard it may be, we must never turn a blind eye to injustice and must always fight for equality whilst educating those around us, especially the privileged amongst us, regardless of how frustrating it can get.

Love, Emily

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