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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

Social media is one of the most effective platforms for emotionally cultivating one’s voice with an audience. The expression of political activities has become more widespread as a result of the proliferation of technology and social media. Earlier, people used to voice their opposition to injustice through different political activities, such as voting or protests, but now they may do so through numerous social media platforms. They share their opinions on social media, remarking on problems and joining those advocating the struggle for justice or criticising today’s social and political injustice. They demonstrate to the world that those battling injustice can count on genuine numbers and individuals by displaying solidarity with others.

However, in this day and age, it is becoming increasingly crucial to synchronise our tone and voice when interacting. This must be done to avoid confusion and chaos. But the question is, what tone and voice should we adopt while communicating with various people? Cultural characteristics vary greatly between age groups, communities, and families. Which elements influence how we communicate with others from these diverse cultures and perspectives?

Bigotry, chauvinism, racism, intolerance, homophobia, and other problems have a long history in society. Throughout history, several sections have not been treated as equals, or even as humans. Certain groups of individuals have traditionally claimed to be superior to others based on their gender, religion, nationality, and so on.

This points to an important aspect of communicating: labels. Labels must be appropriate, relevant, and informative when used. They must never reflect the author’s prejudices. Actions, words, and connections are more relevant than sweeping generalisations of political or social identities. In this case, we must be aware of the nuances in everyone’s identities, their experiences, and more importantly, the meaning they ascribe to these. We should be conscious that meanings change throughout time and in different contexts.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the importance of such sensitivity during research and information dissemination. The young revolutionaries refer to this concept as being “woke.”

As with other trends, social media fuelled the rise of the woke in 2016. Young black activists coined the phrase on various platforms, and the #BlackLivesMatter campaign constantly reminded people to pay attention to the injustice that people experience. “Woke” is more than just a word; it describes the kind of person you are or desire to be. I believe it is partially generational; most people today see the value of being progressive and an activist. Nonetheless, there are instances where it seems that some individuals who profess to be “woke” on Instagram and Twitter are less enthusiastic about social injustice in existence and more concerned with their online brands. However, it doesn’t have to be inherently bad. If the term “woke” is becoming popular, it means that more people are becoming aware of what is going on.

Neutrality in such contexts is effective in preserving the triumphs of tolerance. They serve to enforce norms that encourage acceptance. Examples include fostering diversity in the workplace by using inclusive language and supporting employee-friendly architectural designs. Traditional and social media discourse in sports and elsewhere emphasises diversity and tolerance. Because of “woke culture,” such topics are being discussed publicly across the political spectrum, resulting in more inclusion and tolerance in our society.

However, just as every miracle has its drawbacks – this form of silent, generational revolution also has its downsides.

The apprehension of being called out or “cancelled” might limit free expression and honest disagreements. When it reaches a certain level, awakened activists may be forced to intervene as “thought police.” When we assess ourselves as “woke” and others as not, we are placing ourselves in a higher position than them, by claiming to have a moral and intellectual high ground. We almost seem to be saying, “I’m wiser than you.”
Furthermore, our obsession with objectivity and detachment from words has the potential to spiral out of control, rendering human communication and society dull and lifeless, devoid of any genuine emotion or opinion. All that is shared and heard may eventually begin to sound rehearsed and formal, leading people into a frenzy where everyone is only looking for offence—a society without any trust, faith, or collectivism.

On the flip side, because participation in conversation creates a form of cultural awakening, Woke Culture encourages tolerance for the struggle for social justice and broader inclusion. Cultural awakening is the recognition of one’s own culture, social circumstances, and people who are different from oneself. It makes us conscious of our differences and the importance of solidarity. It also makes us aware of our preconceptions and helps in the correction of errors caused by these. This can even be compared this to the early phases of a revolution when the realisation that something is wrong and that something needs to change sparks social movements.

As said eloquently by Oprah Winfrey, ‘The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.’

Soumyaa Somatra

Delhi South '24

Independent and self-motivated Sociology Graduate student with work experience in Public communications and Social Media management, looking to put my knowledge of analysis, research methods, creativity and social media towards helping people and creating change.