Woke points: Why deleting my Twitter account was the best decision ever



Recently I decided to resort to drastic measures and erase my presence on Twitter.  Some wouldn’t even dream of doing that but myself, I was tired.  Tired of it all.

When I clicked the deactivate icon and when the notification came up confirming it I straight away felt free. It felt almost empowering.  No longer am I a slave to social media who checks their Twitter profile at any given opportunity. 

Initially in my early days on Twitter it seemed like a supportive place to be. I was (and still am) the type of guy who doesn’t have many friends. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say I was lonely and still coping from depression. I had some friends but they were pretty distant.  Facebook was an extremely cliquey place where you have to know people to know people.  Twitter felt like an open party. Where anyone is free to come and socialise. You didn’t need to initially be part of a clique of any sort to connect with people. Initially I just remember a newsfeed with mostly positive and empowering posts. 

Eventually though as time went by I would scroll down everyday and every few hours just to feel negative vibes (well there would be cute dogs and cats but who doesn’t love cute animals?). Regardless of how far I would scroll there was always some argument happening. There was always some beef happening. Always some vicious online argument regarding race and gender. 

Regardless of how disgusted I was how vicious people were in their arguments with other users and how nasty and personal they eventually got I couldn’t help getting out the popcorn and getting invested in the discussion and quoting statements and joining in and getting some of the hate. I was like an addict. 

Twitter is like porn but porn isn’t constantly bugging you while you’re out and about.  Even when you’re away you’re reminded by Twitter that you should be engaging.  You could be just sat in a cafe or on a train or on the toilet taking a shit and your phone could be constantly chiming as though it was telling you to continue engaging in these ‘discussions’.

“Why are you away? You should continue sucking in all the negative vibes from this asshole in some shithole in the US”

Stupidly there would always be the urge to get involved and post up my two cents. There was a need for me to get attention. I wanted to be part of the group of ‘amazing woke people’. I wanted to be a part of the clique and receive approval (in the form of woke points usually). 

A lot of times you would get ignored by these people you ‘follow’ while they respond to all of their mates and people you think are ‘cooler’ than you and it would be frustrating. Thats the minute I realised that it wasn’t the open party i thought.  It triggered my feelings of loneliness and sadness.  I all of a sudden I felt as though I didn’t matter.  You look at their profiles and you realise they are beautiful, they have a great life… you start to think they are better than you.

Anyway, sometimes you would get a response from people.  This means I was involved in the discussion.  I would receive some positive attention in the form of likes and positive replies, but some others didn’t like what I had to say. I was constantly getting negative reply after negative reply. Extremely vicious ones are often traded when race comes into the discussion.  Replies really attempting to get under my skin (such as question my blackness or make me feel as though I’m a disgusting human being).

It’s  funny feeling when you say something that Twitter isn’t exactly feeling (always unintentional) and you aren’t Mr/Ms popular.  You will get absolutely mobbed with negative comments regardless of trying to understand where the other person is coming from.  It makes you hate yourself.  If you realise you were in the wrong (if you was) you can apologise and learn but the negativity and hate just keeps coming.  You say to yourself – “this is just the internet”, but at the same time you’re desperately trying to prove to yourself that you aren’t a shitty human being and forever fated to be a shitty human being.  You desperately want to be assured that you are a good person like Bojack Horseman. You desperately want to each that status of a ‘woke’ king/queen.

As said: “Twitter is a megaphone for achievements and a magnifying glass for insecurities, and when you start comparing your insecurities with another person’s achievements, it’s a recipe for anxiety”


Twitter in my opinion has reached a point where it is counterproductive to progress. Why? People on there (like i was) I feel are too busy arguing amongst themselves in their own spaces and gaining likes/approval from their online cliques who will lap up anything that they say whilst being stuck in a cycle of anxiety.   Every situation deserves all the energy people have got.  People also do not choose their targets wisely.  Problem with this is that it’s tiring.  

You do gain a sense of camaraderie as there are some great users on there posting interesting stuff, but I’m tired of quantifying my worth with all the retweets, likes and all of that crap.  It makes me feel down.  I’m not happy.

The hostile environment and the unpredictability the environment all means everyone is ready for combat with the boxing gloves on ready to engage in attack or defence. Nobody wants to put the katana down. Nobody wants to walk away. Nobody wants to admit mistakes because everyone is aware how ruthless social media is.  Nobody wants to go to the table and discuss things in a civilised manner and if there are assholes who truly need to be punished on the site twitter doesn’t step in and moderate.

From academics to professional journalists, online activists, musicians, gamers… everyone is running into battle with a katana in hand the minute someone says something that isn’t ‘acceptable’.  People are almost encouraged to be assholes.  This seems to have gotten worse from my point of view in a world where populist movements are on the increase and a world where Trump (an orange reality TV star) is our president.

At the same time though everyone is scared of being rejected from a circle.  We all want approval and seek ‘likes’.  Importance was placed on the opinions of people who in real life contribute nothing to my life. 

It’s a space where ‘woke’ points are the main currency (especially amongst political circles). Everyone wants them and the popularity and approval that comes with them.  Everyone wants to be popular kid, everyone wants to be a personality, everyone wants to be seen as important… actually saying that, Twitter has become a place that resembles the playground I remember from secondary school. Always some beef happening, arguments, gossip, emotionally charged statements, plenty of cliques… it’s like Recess.  


Normal Jack and Jill who might or might not be dicks in real life turn into frothing at the mouth assholes who act like they have nothing to learn and are an authority on whatever political topic they are talking about.  These are people on all political sides of the spectrum.  It isn’t just confined to the left or the right.  


Shit… Twitter is like a reality TV show.




…does most of that bullshit on Twitter have an effect on society outside of the playground? Not really. Does all of it benefit me long term other than being able to in future identify negative behaviour? Not really. 

I put my middle finger up to Twitter now. I feel as though I’m past Twitter now. I don’t need approval from the toxic people hanging around the site and i don’t need it in my life. 

I don’t feel the pressure anymore to pretend like some perfect human being. Like I’m ‘woke’ or some shit. Like some holier than thou being. At the end of the day I’m a human being that makes mistakes, but what is important if we’re willing to learn from our mistakes. We aren’t all flawless “kings and queens”.  I don’t feel l the need to prove my blackness or act in a way people think black people should act.

Do I still feel loneliness? Yeah. Do I still feel isolated? Yes. Twitter isn’t there anymore to exacerbate those feelings though. I have less distractions.  I’m happy people watching in a cafe without the distraction of Twitter.  I can concentrate in the gym, concentrate on my university work, focus on music, go to see a movie and come to my own conclusions.  If i want access to other opinions i can get them whenever I want from other sources outside of the social media circus.  

Do we need to discuss issues like race and gender more, challenge white supremacy and condemn regressive politics that have a negative effect on society? Definitely.

Do we need to challenge and condemn homophobia, transphobia, bigotry against Muslims, Jewish people, etc…?  Yes, definitely.

Twitter just doesn’t seem like a great platform for all of that though.  Twitter in my opinion has become an awful place to be.  it causes a vicious cycle of anxiety.    I doubt i will be missing much.  I will no doubt receive important news when it comes so I shouldn’t worry about ‘missing out’.  


Well… that was therapeutic.


The PewDiePie situation part 2 – the weakness of “doing it for the LULZ” humor

The massive problem with PewDiePie’s humor is that there is no / no obviously noticeable layer of satire. Whilst I do have my problems with South Park (especially later seasons) it has consistently being able to maintain it’s layer of satire. The most important thing for a joke is context. When someone like Cartman on South Park screams “death to the Jews” or tells an a particularly distasteful joke it is definitely communicated to the viewer that this is a work of satire and this is not the guy they should be rooting for. He almost always gets what he deserves eventually.
When Neo-Nazi websites are cheering on in support maybe, just maybe the joke fucked up? 

Some will argue that the joke was nothing to do with hate towards Jewish people. The fact that the “joke” was meant to highlight the things people will do for money is even more problematic. It’s very reminiscent of Bumfights – a series where a wealthy white man goes onto the street to dehumanize homeless people (who are desperate for money and alcohol) for profit. PewDiePie paid two men in India five dollars to hold a sign with an Anti-Semitic message that they didn’t fully understand. He (a man who according to Forbes in 2016 made $15 million) fully exploited their need for money to get them to do something provocative for views on social media. If that doesn’t sound ethically wrong…?

PewDiePie is a huge example of the limits and disadvantages of inane “doing it for the LULZ” humor (which is completely separate from satire; satire such as the artwork of Charlie Hebdo). “Doing it for the LULZ” humor can be done well but it is hard to pull off. The normalization of this kind of humor is bad for comedy and bad for society. Racism and anti-semitism for the LULZ most of the time (especially during a time when “alternative facts” is a thing) contributes to the climate of hate and makes people such as Neo-Nazis, white supremacist groups, Islamic Extremist groups and others on the far-right feel vindicated. Whether the joke is said it in earnest or in jest, the negative effect is the same. People can be put in danger all because somebody wanted some LULZ and didn’t think about the effects of their material and how it could be interpreted.

I feel that there are a lot of YouTubers supporting him for their own selfish reasons. Of course there are those that definitely support him, but I don’t want to ignore that YouTube is not just a bunch of amateurs in bedrooms anymore. To some people YouTube is their livelihood and a business. There are huge opportunities for an increase in viewers and subscribers (and therefore income) by simply kissing PewDiePie’s ass.

I acknowledge that he may have apologised for his actions and recognised that the joke was in poor taste but actions speak louder than words and an apology doesn’t have to be accepted. Trust and respect has to be won back.

Brexit and black people outside of the Northern ‘big cities’

Often enough I’ve been told that race isn’t an issue here and that a focus on the racial aspect of Brexit itself is somehow racist towards white people.  Of course the whole issue is incredibly complex but facts cannot be ignored.  What the British media often miss is that the ‘other’ biggest divide other than age was race: 53% of White voters wanted out and 73% of Black voters wanted to stay in the EU.

Myself, I voted to stay in the EU, but was my vote really about the EU?  Not really.  I’m no expert on the EU though I recognise that there are many benefits to membership and that Britain is in no position to leave.  I recognise that a lot of funding my area gets is through EU money which should be a big push towards staying, though I also recognise there are a lot of problems with the EU also.  The benefits I recognise the most from the EU are with regards to policy (such as worker’s rights), freedom of movement and economics (funding for projects in my area).  A lot of my decision to remain came from the fact that racism and xenophobia was a huge driver for people round here to vote leave. 

Often enough I will refer to myself as from ‘the black community’, but what is this ‘black community’ in areas such as mine in Doncaster, South Yorkshire?  How does it differ from the ‘black community’ in areas such as London, Manchester and Leeds? 

Currently the north is split into two in my opinion. You have two types of places –

  1. 1)    Economic powerhouses and university towns that have managed to survive the recession – places such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
  2. 2)    Towns and cities that have suffered due to decline of industry and have struggled to recover – places such as Hartlepool, Barnsley, Burnley, Doncaster, Sunderland, Worksop and Rotherham. 

What really confirmed this split to me are recent depictions of Manchester as some sort of Northern London and the face of a new prosperous north; a city that is experiencing a fast paced regeneration (which I would argue is actually gentrification).  Watch a lot of TV and you will see Manchester City and wider Greater Manchester as an area that is highly represented on TV after London.  After all with the decentralisation of some BBC operations from London to Manchester other media and broadcasting organisations have been attracted to the city, meaning that we have seen an increased representation of areas ‘up north’ (meaning only Greater Manchester) outside of the economic capital (London). 

Meanwhile you have places such as Barnsley depicted as being declining industrial wastelands that still look like they could be settings for a remake of Brassed Off or The Full Monty.  The kinds of areas depicted as being still full of backwards thinking bitter and lager sipping working class (white) people without further and higher education and are still bitter about the Miner’s Strike of 1984-1985. 

The depiction of areas that are just full of white people who never ever interact with other ethnic minorities in my experience is even pushed by people from ethnic minorities.  Often in my interactions with other black individuals from London, Manchester, Birmingham and other big cities there is often a sense of disbelief that I live in the location I do – an ex-mining village. 

“There are no black people here”

The media only speak in extremes.  The message mainstream outlets want the masses to get is that in those towns and cities that have suffered due to decline of industry only white people live; the words “working class” often meaning “poor white males”.  Often in reports there has often been an absolute failure to give representation to ethnic minorities in these places because of course – black people and Asians only live in inner cities in large regional centres like Leeds and Manchester.  The alleged ‘all white’ population of these insular towns up north are simply screaming at clouds because they are just poor angry white people who do not know any better.  They are angry because they have no jobs and because… well… Polish people are taking all their warehousing jobs and there are too many Polski Skleps established by those ‘pesky entrepreneurial Poles’ in the neighbourhood for their liking. 

Of course all of that is bullshit, though what cannot be ignored is that compared to the economic centres of Leeds and Manchester, areas especially with a history of mining such as Barnsley, Doncaster and many areas in Wakefield have historically being relatively more homogeneous.  Even though there were black people and Asian people working in mining (who have had their contributions ignored), much of the immigration to these areas has been domestic, for example – the immigration of Scottish and Welsh miners to areas of Doncaster due to collieries in their area closing, thus leaving them with no jobs. 

Often enough in my own experience two areas often come up when mentioning the ‘black community’ in Northern England – Moss Side in Manchester and Chapeltown in Leeds.  These are two places historically where a high number of the Afro-Caribbean people in these areas decided to settle between Wold War Two and the 60s (My Grandparent’s generation).

I do feel the need to say however that there however has never ever really been a ‘black community’ in Britain… well not like the Americans would define it.  The Americans would see a black community as an area which is exclusively black people; areas which you will rarely see ‘whitey’ for miles.  This has never been the case in the UK.  Though there are some areas like Moss Side and Chapeltown which have relatively higher numbers of black people, the areas remain relatively mixed (white British, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Eastern European, etc). 

In comparison the ‘black community’ in declining towns and smaller areas is much more spread out and smaller.  There is no real area which can be defined as being a centre for the ‘black community’.  You’d just have families dotted around the town and your odd event here and there.  For a large chunk of my life I felt as though I was one of the very very few black boys in the whole village.  I would look at images of London on the TV and romanticise the place as being a better place to live as a black male (when the reality is that it is just as, if not even more tough to survive in).  There was a constant feeling that I was missing out.  Especially during the late 90s and early 2000s when I started getting into hip-hop and started listening to reggae, funk, soul and learning more about my own history; realising I wasn’t like the other kids. 

Even though I did feel pretty much isolated at times there was a sense of support though the understanding shared experiences across different groups.  In my area there was and still is terrible discrimination towards Irish Travellers and Gypsies.  At times I would experience the odd bit of racism and ignorance from those communities in particular but for the most part I got on with a lot of them.  At times I would feel a sense of that that they know we have some things in common (mainly that we’re both from groups that are discriminated against) and that we’re both in the same boat, therefore I wouldn’t get much bother from them. 

There is a huge disadvantage of being a black man in a place outside the big economic centres –  a lack of a social circle to share similar experiences and there is a massive lack of culturally sensitive and appropriate support services and facilities.   Even where these exist (usually provided by social enterprises, the third sector or churches – a huge problem for another day) they are relatively more spread out or based centrally (as in town centres) due to the geography of these areas, as a result making these services very inconvenient for a lot of people.  A lot of these services post-economic crisis due to austerity measures have gone under and as a result have left many without support.  This is something I really feel as though I can relate to.  During a tough time where my mental health took a sharp decline and I found mental health services provided by the NHS in my area not very useful in supporting me.  Differences in race and culture always felt like the elephant in the room; a result of the ignorance or lack of knowledge of the person delivering the service.  It was only because I was a university student in another location I could access a service that were knowledgeable and discussed issues related to my cultural background and race. They made me feel comfortable.  


It’s important that black people outside of established and larger black communities in the “Economic Powerhouses” are not left out when discussing race in Britain Post-Referendum and in the future as in a lot of cases black people in these areas are the most vulnerable to racism, feel more isolated and have less access to culturally appropriate support services.  Things are very very slowly improving with regards to media representation and culturally appropriate and sensitive services in these areas, but there still exists a perpetuation of the myth that black people only live in certain areas of Northern England such as Chapeltown and Moss Side and could not possibly have been born in *insert declining northern town here*.

The simplistic and regressive depiction of the northern white working class as the main face of ‘working class Northern Britain’; a salt-of-the-earth, oppressed group that has been left behind only exacerbates racism, white exceptionalism, obscures ways that can actually help them (as in understanding the complex factors as to how racist attitudes develop) and also ignores poor whites in large urban areas such as London and Manchester.  It ignores the privileges that the white working class have over ethnic minorities of the same and lower economic status. Of course there are problems in these communities but racist and xenophobic attitudes should not be left unchallenged, excused (“oh, these people are racist because there are no jobs and foreigners are taking them”) and should always be condemned.  A “not on my doorstep” mentality with regards to diversity, change and ethnic minorities has been allowed to fester for years and years in these areas ( the “maybe in Manchester but not round here” mentality).

What I fear is that with no opportunities to receive funding from the EU there will be a decline in funding opportunities.  This has the potential to hit everyone hard though has the potential to exacerbate the problems ethnic minorities have in these areas with regards to bringing culturally appropriate support and projects to these areas; services that are usually provided at community level.  In my experience as a youth and community worker the first services to usually experience cuts and reductions in services are services targeted at marginalised groups; service providers usually cutting these and providing more ‘general’ services to cut costs by lumping all ethnic minorities in the same category.  Of course it is much cheaper and convenient for the powers that be to focus on general equalities in a centralised location, than commission work to investigate and improve services for specific groups, especially in areas that are much more ‘white’.  The experiences of a Bangladeshi woman, Afro-Caribbean man, Nigerian woman and Pakistani man would all be vastly different. 


The PewdiePie situation – is it ok now for white people to say the “N – word”?

I’ve never really been a big fan of superhero movies, but one quote from the Spider-Man film (starring Tobey Maguire) has always stuck with me:

“With great power comes great responsibility”.  

This quote can be true for a lot of things and especially applies to celebrities and people who in society are seen as being particularly influential. Whether they like it or not they have power and have a lot of responsibility in their hands. Your Kim Kardashians, Justin Biebers, Jennifer Lawrences and Robert Downey Jrs of the world.  

Whether we like it or not also today social media personalities are now celebrities. The way we consume media and communicate with people has evolved. Traditional media audiences such as TV audiences are declining. We have gotten to a point where there is greater audience participation and creatives are held to greater account regarding the material they release for mass consumption.  

What I am not saying that accepting responsibility means sacrificing artistic integrity and rights to freedom of speech; having to agree with everything people say to ‘keep the peace’. Challenging ideas and introducing new ones is important. What I want to get across is that it’s a rather ignorant and a childish frame of mind to have to ignore that every action has a consequence and that freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from criticism and a ‘free pass’ to break social prohibitions without necessary criticism.  

When you are at the top of the ladder there is a bigger responsibility to those below you and those who don’t have the same privileges. It comes with the territory. Freeloading on society without contributing to society is not how progress is achieved; locking in those golden coins like Scrooge McDuck.  

What I am trying to say it is important for those who wield privilege to listen to those who are marginalised and oppressed within our society to create a better world for everyone. Yet, (some) white people don’t seem to get it:  

It is not acceptable for white people to use the “N” word and whites will never from now on be able to have a say with regards to whether it is acceptable to use it. I do not care how unfair whites think it is, how much they want to be able to say it because it’s ‘cool’ or how they use it as a term of endearment. The “N” word is a word which was used every time my ancestors were whipped, beaten, raped, spat on, shit on (yes it happened), murdered, insulted and humiliated in various ways. It is a word that when used by white people makes me reflect on a past which seen black people violently repressed for rebelling or even questioning a system which forced them to do and act as white society said.  

All too often I see white people on the internet coming to assumptions regarding a general consensus in the black community regarding the word (which all to often relies on one black person’s opinion regarding the issue and using this as gospel). This matter is not a simple matter. Just because your ‘black friend’ is cool with you using that word it doesn’t mean you are right to use it. It is a very complex issue that needs to be discussed within the black community. Yes, you can have your opinion on the ‘N’ word too, but at this point the white opinion on this issue does not mean a thing.  

Squat. Nada. Zero. The privilege was lost.  

If white people really are interested in this debate they need to listen to black people first and not just engage in selective listening and just listen to black people whose opinions reflect theirs so that they can simply approve their own actions as there are differing opinions and feelings regarding the use of the “N” word, especially amongst generations, classes and communities of black people.  

The mentality of “every door should be open to me whether you like it or not because we are all equal” and “I can say whatever I want because I have freedom of speech so back off man” are the epitome of white privilege. This is the belief that every debate should welcome the white opinion with open arms and that the white opinion should be the most prevalent (because “those ethnic minorities really don’t know what is good for them or that they’ve never had it so good?”). There is a great bitterness and anger amongst a lot of white people when I tell them that the discussion regarding whether it is ok to the use the “N-word” is simply a discussion they are unwelcome in. I am aware that there are groups of white people especially here in the UK that have and still experience discrimination (such as people from the Irish, Polish and Traveller communities and broke white people in declining ex-industrial communities screwed over by Thatcher), but some white people need to face it that some issues just aren’t about them.  

I don’t think PewDiePie is a racist at this moment. He is not even on the level of people higher on the ‘bigot scale’ such as Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. I have massive respect for him with regards to how he has been able to create success for himself. I however think he is uneducated, misguided and even ignorant regarding this issue. He screwed up hugely and needs to apologise.  

It’s know it’s hard (especially as a man) to admit that you are wrong, but sometimes it is needed. It doesn’t make you less masculine. A simple apology and education would go a long way. Of course people don’t have to accept your apology, but effort to become a better person is always respected.  

White people, you were born with great power but with your great power comes great responsibility.

Kim Kardashian is a victim of a crime – the internet is horrible as usual 

Oh Kim Kardashian… no other celebrity currently alive attracts so much criticism and hate.  Some of it legitimate or at the very least with positive intentions (e.g. Chloë Moretz), but a lot of it is mostly of the incredibly hateful and distasteful kind.  

It’s ok if you dislike her or dislike what she stands for or whatever (disliking her for allegedly being a ‘whore’ and for shamelessly ‘exposing’ her body is another topic for another day). I’ve learned myself that you can’t please or be liked by everyone. 

Where I have drawn the line however is the mocking and jokes aimed at her because she was a victim of crime. Honestly, what has she done exactly to deserve to be robbed at gunpoint?   I dislike a lot of people in my community, but would i laugh at them and mock them if they were a victim of crime? 

Do i like James Corden as a host, a comedian and an entertainer? Not really. I find him incredibly unfunny. Would i make jokes and almost celebrate if he was a victim of a violent crime? No.  I also could not agree more with this tweet he posted which criticises many of the hateful comments on social media about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West:

That’s a very important point that a lot of angry irrational people on the internet tend to ignore. Kim Kardashian no matter how big of a celebrity is a human being (a human being that i have never met).  What happened to Kim Kardashian could have happened to anyone – my sister, my mother, my friends or even someone i like at work. Believe it or not, people other than celebrities can be potential victims of armed robberies, muggings and violent assaults.  Not long ago a woman was subject to a violent armed robbery at an ATM machine and as a result needed to be taken to hospital. That could happen to anyone around the world. 

To all the men – How would you feel if some guys in baraclavas burst through your door, threatened to kill your wife / girlfriend and kids, tied them up and robbed them while you was at work? How would you react? I can’t even imagine the thoughts going on in Kanye’s head when he found out what happened.  In the middle of a concert too.  I am currently single myself, but if i had a girlfriend or a wife i would travel to the other side of the world to support them. I would be incredibly upset. I would definitely abandon a room full of rabid and crazy fans to get to the scene.  

The Washington Post rightly states that the reaction by many has been “unkind”, though avoids outright condemnation of these actions of these people by stating “But that’s not because people don’t have empathy for a woman, a mother, a wife. They just don’t have empathy for a hollow brand”.  By mocking and almost celebrating the fact that a woman, a mother and a wife (who has clearly done nothing with the intention of huting anyone) has been robbed they are clearly showing a lack of empathy.  

It’s a situation that reminds me of the lack of compassion shown and condemnation of the theft of personal nude images of female celebrities that happened during the so called “Fappening”; social media treating the situation as some sort of joke and like celebrities somehow don’t have feelings or emotions.  Celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence who openly condemned the perpetrators of the crime whilst witnessing mocking, accusations of a ‘publicity stunt’, jokes, support of the perpetrator and the usual “you deserved it” comments on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, 4Chan and Reddit:

“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change,” she said. “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.” – Jennifer Lawrence

Whlist I am aware that there is always the danger of treating celebries as people that somehow matter more than a non-famous member of the public, the internet needs to realise that famous people are human beings too.  

Politics and geek culture – A Peter Pan generation


If we are to define a lot of things within geek culture art (comics, games, TV shows and movies) then what must be accepted is that art has never ever in it’s lifetime detached from the world it was created in and the person who created it.

It is a well known fact that the world of the Moomin created by celebrated Finnish artist Tove Jansson is deeply inspired by her experiences of war, her childhood and the relationships she had with her family, friends and particularly her female lover.  Would we continue to discuss these stories and the characters we fell in love with as a child if all these never reflected the artist’s experiences and beliefs?  We continue to be intrigued and amazed still after all these years by Tove Jansson’s life, her inspirations for the imaginative and deeply personal stories she created and the political environment they were created in.

There are a certain group of people in geek culture that like to assume politics lives in some sort of separate realm; the belief that politics can be separated from everything and anything and that politics is just about political parties, political campaigns and mostly ‘boring’ and ‘extremely formal’ discussion among middle aged and old white men in old buildings (and in some cases middle aged and old white academics in old buildings). The belief still surprisingly exists that the only way to ever engage politically is to participate in elections and engage in organised activities related to party politics.

The reality is that politics is everywhere.  It affects us is every part of our lives.  Politics cannot be escaped.  Politics is around us from the day we were born and sucked milk from our mother’s breasts to the day we die.  Politics is that powerful.  To wish to not live in a world where nothing is inspired by the politics of the time or past you would literally have to kill yourself.  Everything we choose to create, participate in and consume either contributes to achieving the goal of a progressive society, exacerbates injustice and equality around the world or both.  Politics is so powerful we take on particular stances sometimes without even realizing it.

That is where the label of “Social Justice Warrior” puzzles me.  What does it exactly mean when you ignore the internet’s use of the term (which it is now used as a mere snarl word used by those on the right of the spectrum of beliefs)?  Art with political messages are older than modern geek culture itself. Who doesn’t want a just society?  Even in what I would define as my golden period for gaming, there have always been games where to goal is to fight for social justice by “fighting the power”.  Heroes in games have always represented particular ideologies and the villains representing everything the creators believe is wrong in our society.  This theme is present in the most memorable game characters in history.

A perfect example of politics in older video games is the Sonic the Hedgehog series.  Looking at the Sonic the Hedgehog games now as an adult you can see beyond what people assume is a simplistic “fighting against villain who wants to take over the world” story and see an environmental message and criticism of modern day capitalism.  Here we have a ‘hero’ in the form of a blue hedgehog fighting a ‘villain’ in the form of a fat egg shaped human scientist called Dr Robotnik whose ‘greedy’ capitalist ventures have little regard for the environment and wellbeing  of the animals in it.  Robotnik is a radical representation of  how little the human race can care about the environment and the wildlife in it, all because of our desire to make money, achieve instant gratification and gain power.  It’s no coincidence that the first levels of the game are relatively green and the later levels of the game looking more polluted and industrial with little in the form of plant life.  Even in the later games such as Sonic Colors darker themes such as slavery are explored with Robotnik enslaving the population of an entire planet so he can convert the planet into a gigantic theme park; using the power of the alien life there to realise his own selfish capitalist dreams.

This is why I see most people who scream “SJW” down the internet not as people who are actively out to beat down the oppressed but as a generation that denies responsibility and the fact adults do not look at the world through child eyes.  A generation that is stuck with the mentality they had when they were reading comic books, watching movies or playing games in their bedrooms during high school. A generation that when watching a show like Firefly will scream “shut the fuck up with your feminism, race and class discussions, I’m trying to watch a movie about spaceships, space cowboys, and shit!” In complete denial that maybe, just maybe the people behind the show were deeply inspired by their own experiences and political beliefs and ideologies.

It’s all well and fine to see a show like Firefly as “spaceships, space cowboys and shit” but those who wish to delve deeper should not be beaten down and silenced.  The problem with this is we are simply giving in to media pressure to revert to childlike mentalities where we are drawn away from real world issues. To ignore the power that art has to change or conserve the current political environment for the status quo is ignorant.

There is nothing wrong with relating art to the real world and it’s impact on it. Geek culture has become two sided; two sides which are all out extremes: one which believes that art exists to be consumed for the purpose of escapism (to stop us from thinking about issues such as inequality and corruption) and one which believes art should relate to the real world and discuss societal issues such as inequality and corruption.  There is nothing wrong with all out escapism, but we eventually need to be brought down to earth.  Just like we can take drugs and experience trips, one must eventually come out the trip and analyse the real life damage we have done as a result.

The reality is that we didn’t discover the world through our own creations.  We mostly discovered the world through the ideas that those who created the material we consumed most likely were consuming and were inspired by.  We were brought up by fictional characters.  Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Goku, Sonic and Batman aren’t ours.  They can’t become a large part of our lives.  They represent the ideas of somebody else.

Currently the impossible goal by some franchises and artists is to give the audience back the feeling they got from consuming something as a child.  The problem is children in school are not taught to be critical.

We are all adults now.  We can never ever again get the feeling we had from e.g. watching Pokemon for the first time as a kid.  Our innocence as gone and we are much more aware to the cruel world around us.  Nostalgia is a powerful phenomenon, but the truth is the best things grow up with us.  Even with regards to music the best artists have evolved with their audience.  For example, De La Soul have sustained their fanbase and gained more fans through constantly evolving their sound, material and image; opening themselves up to new ideas.  Even artists such as Immortal Technique and Brother Ali have addressed their changing political beliefs and the changing of their stance on particular topics.  Progression means change.