You’re Not Woke, You’re Just Chronically Online

By: Anna Cox

Modern culture and social norms have changed dramatically over the last five years, seeing as a global pandemic stopped the busy lives of most Americans for almost two years. In that time of working from home, the way that people consume media and who they consume media from has shifted, especially for young people. Many people turned to social media as a means to create some sort of connection with other humans, even if they could not see their face. And, while this is a good alternative to socialization, especially during the pandemic, it has created problems with how people perceive others as a whole. Some social-media users have gotten sucked so far into the sphere of Twitter and TikTok, that they don’t understand that not everyone has the same opinions as them and those they choose to surround themselves with online.

Being absorbed by the people you choose to interact with online can bleed into your real life and your expectations of how people should and shouldn’t think. For example, trigger warnings are important for things like flashing lights that could cause epileptic seizures, mentions of mental illness, and speaking about abuse; it is not needed for personal phobias and mentioning a specific person. People online have somehow thought that they deserve coddling for these things, when in reality they are not. If you constantly expect others to adjust what they are speaking about or how they are acting as a means to make you comfortable, you will be very surprised when they do not. And this is not a justification for bigotry and hate, because those are and have been socially unexceptable. But, in light of social issues being discussed online and people learning new “buzz words” every week, sometimes the opinions of those online are very out of touch with the real world.

“Buzz words” are overused phrases and terms that people start to whittle into arguments or debates in order to sound more intelligent. But, the issue with this is that the people using the words, a lot of the time, do not have an understanding of the word. Popular buzzwords on social media are things like “grooming”, “ableism”, or “critical race theory”. And, while these are real issues that need to be addressed and discussed on social platforms, someone who has no personal or prior experience or expertise on these topics do not need to be creating discourse around them. The people who weave their way into these conversations just end up making it seem like something that is frivolous. 

People who are chronically online also have the terrible habit of considering themselves “woke” while simultaneously being extremely out of touch with their needs and circumstances. There is a very complex debate on the internet about the consumption of fast fashion and whether or not it is moral to buy from companies that perpetuate the trend. The debate is centered around the wealth status of those who purchase from websites like Shein and Amazon. The conservation has pervaded many arguments that are had on social media, but are those having it qualified to? Most of them are not, and that is evident in the way that they handle those who still consume these products. Completely disregarding the economic status that these people are in, some people online have completely flooded the comments of those who still shop fast fashion. This is seen in both rich influencers and people who cannot afford to shop sustainably. The influencers should be getting called out for this, as they can shop at sustainable brands and still be able to afford to survive. But, some lower and middle-income individuals are granted this luxury. The chronically online do not take this into consideration and then proceed to attack people who continue to shop fast fashion.

One of the most infamous things that those who are chronically online do is their fixation with knowing every controversy that a celebrity has been involved in. It is not wrong to educate people on the problematic and, sometimes, criminal things that famous people have done in the past. But, there are many instances in which people will attack those who do not know about these controversies and consume media that the problematic celebrities are involved in. One of the main examples that has been hot in the past couple of months is the Ansel Elgort and West Side Story situation. Ansel Elgort, who played Tony in the 2021 adaption of West Side Story, recently got exposed for his predatory behaviors involving minors. And, while this is something that does need to be discussed and he needs to be punished for this, some are calling for a mass boycott of the movie. This completely disregards the roles that this movie has given out to many people of color. People online have been getting angry at those who want to support the movie because it has many people of color in the cast, fully because of Elgort’s actions. And this is not an isolated situation. Things like this have happened to people who enjoy music or movies of other problematic people, completely throwing out the idea of  “separating the art from the artist”. And, while in some scenarios it is very hard to do that and while some people should not be supported at all, in cases where there are other overshining reasons to consume that media it is ridiculous to expect people to boycott this media.

The hyperfixation of being the “perfect” person with “perfect” opinions has absorbed the internet in recent years. But, these people fail to realize that imperfect opinions that do not cater to everyone are very common. People are going to have problematic takes on situations and debates, and it’s important to understand that not everything can be fixed with a TikTok comment or a tweet calling them bad people for having a different viewpoint than you.

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