Barack Obama may have surprised some of his supporters with recent comments at an Obama Foundation event in his hometown of Chicago on Tuesday night. The former president spoke out against social media activism and called out political “wokeness” and cancel culture.
“This idea of purity and that you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke — you should get over that quickly,” Obama said during a conversation with actress Yara Shahidi. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you.
“I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media — there is this sense sometimes of the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that’s enough. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. Did you see how woke I was, I called you out. Then I’m going to get on my TV and watch my show … That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”
It’s refreshing to hear those comments from such a prominent, respectable figure.
Far too often in the social media age, people are quick to dig up comments from the past in an attempt to stop people from growing and improving themselves as they seek new opportunities. There is also a false sense of accomplishment in the hashtag era where people think simply adding a few letters to the end of a tweet gives you more clout.
And while it may help you get more social media followers, it doesn’t accomplish anything in the real world.
So hats off to you, Barack.