‘Tis the season to be merry, but Woke Twitter – or the growing mass of Twitter users that always has something to say about current events and social justice – remains as furious and indignant as ever. From Miss Universe Catriona Gray’s “silver lining in poverty” Q&A, to naysayers of the first transwoman Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce, to the bullying video featuring students from Ateneo Junior High School, Woke Twitter has a ton to gripe about.
And while fury and indignation over such pressing issues should not simmer down just because it’s the holidays, I’d like to take advantage of this time of good cheer and glad tidings to share my own gripes about Woke Twitter itself.
Consider this my Christmas wish list – a few things I hope the boys and girls of the Twitterverse could work on over the break to shift their behavior from empty shouting and shaming, to actually helping others understand and act on issues.
Wish #1: Remember that not everyone is as educated and aware as you are
A lot of what you know about social justice comes from having a solid education and being in circles of like-minded folks. In the echo chamber that is your social media feed, it’s easy to think most people are already aware when they’re speaking from a point of privilege, or when they’re not giving agency to the oppressed party, or when a situation they’re in has its ironies.
But the thing is, you and your friends are not the majority of Twitter, or of society in general. Far from it. There will be people out there who will tweet things that come from a place of ignorance, and while their opinions may get you into a teeth-gnashing furor, you have to remember that there’s a good chance they didn’t read the same things you read, or study under the same teachers, or learn the same lessons from life experiences. Which brings me to…
Wish #2: Know that shaming someone isn’t going to change their mind
Imagine if you tweeted something that turned out to be wrong or uninformed, and suddenly get a barrage of responses calling you an idiot, a bigot, a person deserving of shame and derision. The last thing you’d probably feel is a need to acknowledge your shortcomings and the drive to improve your point of view. It’s not a normal person’s instinct to thank the person who just called them scum and offer to cooperate with them further.
If you really are so concerned about people not knowing enough of an issue, or seeing an issue from a problematic standpoint, then you wouldn’t be going around calling them “cancelldt.” What’s the point, after all, of bullying the bully? You’d want that person to trust you into bettering their stance, to see you as someone willing to share the things you’ve come to learn yourself. This means talking to them like a human being, with patience and respect, and with far fewer four-letter words. If they still balk at the idea of talking to you decently, then you’ve at least tried.
Wish #3: Accept that you still have a lot to learn too
As woke as you are, you are not infallible.
It’s easy to forget that you are when most of what you tweet gets hundreds of hearts and spreads like wildfire, but it’s important to reel yourself in all the time. Admit it: You weren’t this aware of certain issues 5 years ago. You had to learn and unlearn a lot of things before earning the perspective you have now, and this process isn’t going to stop anytime soon. There will still be a lot to correct in the way you think and in the way you treat others, because there is still a lot you haven’t experienced.
Being woke doesn’t have to mean being unkind.
Yes, there are a lot of things to be mad about, and we all have every right to be mad about them, but it’s in how we channel this anger into something that actually addresses the root problem that matters – from something as simple as starting a smarter conversation, to something as ambitious as forming an action group offline.
You can tweet your ire and indignation all you want, but if that is all you do, and if most of it is directed at others just to prove that they’re wrong and you’re right, then it’s nothing but noise.
With 2019 and the elections around the corner, it’s crucial to spend the last moments of the year assessing how we can better citizens, online and off. And while it sure is fun to be naughty, it pays way more to be nice. - Rappler.com
Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Opinion section, and is (happily) wrangled into voice over and hosting work. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for 6 years. She is also a fictionist.