A Boomer’s Guide to ‘Wokism’: Why They’re Not Buying Into the Woke Mob

‘Wokism’ has become a pretty inflammatory idea, especially as it challenges ideals and understanding between generations. Staying woke or keeping up with the woke brigade can be a real challenge, and nowadays, one wrong move or inflammatory comment has the potential to get you canceled.

So what is ‘Wokism’, and why do boomers have such a tough time buying into it? Let’s dive into the term’s origins and how it came to be manipulated into such a polarizing concept.

Humble Origins 

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The notion of ‘woke’ is derived from the expression ‘stay woke,’ meaning to stay aware and vigilant of social and political issues, especially surrounding racism and police brutality. 

What Is The Definition of Woke?

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the current definition of woke, identified as US slang, means to be: “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Promoting Awareness?

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As intended, this progressive mindset has huge benefits. For example, it encourages a greater awareness and sense of accountability for social injustices. 

Its promotion of equality and understanding has made way for the ‘Me Too’ movement and ‘Black Lives Matter’, which has helped give minorities a much-needed platform.

Not a Bad Idea!

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Being aware of social injustice and alert to any form of prejudice or discrimination is hardly a bad thing. Nowadays, the term is used to describe an academic movement that has grown out of the need to redress a prejudiced system of power and correct social, racial, and gender inequalities and all other forms of oppression.

So, What Went Wrong?

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The issue with defining “woke” these days is that it’s not just one thing or one ideology. The ideology is confusing, even for its most devout followers, because it mismatches progressive emotion with reactionary assumptions, which undermine the whole movement. 

Despite advocating for an understanding of intersectionality and openness, it all too often targets those who don’t subscribe rather than supporting those who do. 

Deeply Floored

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Most boomers have issues with the woke ideology, which is inconsistent and often contradictory. The confusion comes from the belief that being woke is the modern-day version of progress. Rather, woke binds progressive emotions and beliefs with baseless assumptions and demands for justice, which many boomers see as a smokescreen for a socialist power grab. 

Emotional Militants

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Boomers tend to feel like ‘woke culture’ unfairly targets the older generations and those who do not follow their ideology. As a result, they do not feel welcomed or comfortable with the movement, and they often feel like they have been made the scapegoats for the current state of the world. 

Despite its supposedly liberal and progressive stance, woke advocates are surprisingly exclusive, adopting a dismissive approach to any other beliefs.  

Controversial Opinions

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From advocating for abortion rights to LGBTQ+ awareness or introducing gender pronouns, woke culture is a constant source of controversy. In attempts to rebalance oppression and inequalities and apologize for certain histories, some steps have been taken that, rather than uplift individual freedoms, impose new forms of censorship and oppression.

Why Has It Become Such a Slur?

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The term has been hijacked as a sort of slur against progressives and liberal opponents, designed to damage their image by equating them with ‘snowflakes,’ fueled by emotions around historical wrongdoings and the plight of the oppressed rather than rational. 

A Boomer Phrase

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Despite the apparent hatred and opposition to woke culture, when it comes to who uses the phrase the most, boomers come out on top. According to a recent survey, they are the most likely generation to use the term ‘woke.’

‘Ok, Boomer’ vs Woke

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‘Ok, Boomer’ has become a phrase used to dismiss conservative views and diminish the opinions and beliefs of the older generations. Similarly, ‘Woke’ has become somewhat of a catchphrase for conservatives, who have seemingly reclaimed the word. It often refers to anything that opposes their ideals and represents a quasi-radical leftism. The term is frequently used to dismiss someone or an idea as a liberal fanatic.

Why Are Boomers Not Buying Into It?

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Woke culture is closely associated with a more liberal ideology. Given the older generations are twice as likely to identify as conservatives, this tends to clash with their beliefs.

A Generational Divide

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A lot has changed since boomers were born, given that they grew up during the height of the civil rights movement. It can be difficult for them to keep up or reconcile with the social and political progress of the last 60 years. 

From changing language to radical new theories on gender, staying up to date with it all, especially given the online nature of woke dialogue, can be difficult to navigate, leaving many boomers feeling isolated and out of touch with the younger generations. 

Cultural Marxism?

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Many people, especially on the right of the political spectrum, deem ‘woke culture’ to be a form of cultural Marxism, citing it as the source of all social ills. 

As a result, woke has become the modern equivalent of the ‘Red Scare.’ Being labeled as ‘woke’ by a conservative is intended to undermine and insinuate that the recipient is a belligerent social justice warrior who easily takes offense and has no respect for those who don’t share their view! 

Political Correctness

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Wokeism has been blamed for the rise of political correctness, which is essentially a form of censorship of language designed to be used to avoid any sort of offense or disadvantage to any group in society. Both boomers and conservatives alike tend to associate woke culture with the idea of the ‘snowflake generation’ and an over-sensitive policing of language.

The Woke Mob

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‘Woke Culture’ in the US has long been a running joke amongst conservatives, often referred to as a mob, cult, or even a mafia for the tendencies of a few belligerents. The movement is likened to such due to its organized and aggressive attacks on opposing beliefs, designed to silence or ‘cancel’ individuals.

Cancel Culture

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Perhaps the most significant aspect of wokism that boomers can’t get behind is cancel culture. Being ‘canceled’ is often referred to in association with, or as a result of, the impact of wokism. Both revolve around the idea of ‘political correctness,’ and what was a tool for accountability has snowballed into a way to censor or police those who may offend or have disagreeable views.

Liberal Ideals?

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The rise of ‘wokism’ and the hijacking of the word by conservatives has left many self-identifying liberals feeling split between their ideas and the belligerence of ‘woke culture.’ It’s important to recognize the difference between the two, and the fact that identifying as a liberal is not the same as subscribing to the current woke ideology. 

Is it Helping?

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Some believe that wokism has become a destructive, misplaced amalgamation of ideas compounded by unchecked emotion that is undoing much of the progress that has been made. 

Despite this, wokism has been, since its first instance, an active ideal to achieve universal freedom and equality. The movement continues to promote social awareness and highlight our collective responsibility toward reconciling our prejudice. 

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