Something happened in the past years that made the word “woke” have negative connotations.
The origin of “woke” cannot be made certain, but everyone knew what it meant: staying awake with alertness on social issues surrounding us.
It became a status symbol, one this generation of social media savvy millennials brandished with pride for being vocal on politics, the environment, class discrimination, and gender equality.
But as people became more vocal with their opinions, those who had dissenting opinions started to make theirs known. The problem is that we humans are creatures of emotion; and, because of it, people started taking arguments as personal attacks (especially when they believe so strongly in their views), and what is supposed to be constructive discussion and debate becomes, instead, a series of name-calling, invalidation, and “holier than thou” decrees.
Along the way, the term “woke” became used in a condescending way as retaliation against these socially aware persons. Suddenly, anyone who voiced out their opinions that diverged from the status quo was called “pa-woke” (“faux woke”), usually for the lack of anything else more sensible to say.
“Pa-woke” became a tool to smart shame and invalidate, as if to say “you’re trying to act woke, but you’re just looking for something to be unnecessarily mad about.”
The most disconcerting thing about injecting the phrase “pa-woke ka” in any argument is that it destroys the conversation.
It immediately builds a wall between two people at odds with one another when there should really be an open and respectful discourse to understand each other’s thoughts. It extinguishes any chance of having an intellectual discussion that, although may not change the stands of each person, could at least help broaden each other’s perspective.
With “pa-woke ka” as an easy way out of the conversation without having to feel like you “lost” the debate, the divide between clashing groups widens and the resentment grows even greater. Everyone ends up talking, but no one is actually listening.
But how can you expect your own opinion to be respected when you don’t respect those that differ from yours?
If you truly wanted to prove your point, engage and converse. No insults, no shaming, no blowing up in anger. Be open to questions, and be open to viewing the issue at hand with a different pair of eyes. Don’t force people to see things your way, but at least dare to understand where the other party is coming from.
There’s too much going on in the world to spend our time fighting with each other online. Let’s all collectively continue fighting for the things we believe in, and hopefully towards a more progressive future.
To anyone who’s ever been a victim of being called “pa-woke,” raise your hand. Share your stories with us in the comments!