Former President Barack Obama targeted his younger audience’s activism at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, where his boomer views show the older generation’s lack of understanding of today’s modern day protest.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” Obama said, “The world is messy. There are ambiguities.”
Obama’s remarks to those who seem to think they are “woke”seem to come from none other than someone who didn’t grow up with the internet. Nowadays, the internet and social media has become people’s everyday go-to for information. The internet is loaded with all the updates on what is happening in the world of politics, allowing people to get informed and make their decisions.
What Obama doesn’t realize is that people don’t want “purity” in the world because that is impossible, but what they do want are changes. The world is, in fact, messy, which is why people are so quick to judge because the world is unfolding in front of the public’s eyes.
Coming for cancel culture, Obama goes on to call out those who tweet or hashtag whenever someone does anything wrong.
“That is not activism, that’s not bringing about change,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”
However, hashtags are activism. There is not that much difference between protesting out in public with signs and protesting online. If anything, hashtags online spread faster around the world because they go viral. One of the most well known hashtags to “cancel” people has been the #MeToo movement. Hashtags such as this one, has helped bring awareness to some of Hollywood’s most famous people who have been harassing women.
In order to make change, it does require one to converse; which is essentially what these hashtags are doing. These online protests bring people together to discuss, as well as brings the attention to politicians.
“What people of Obama’s generation don’t understand— or don’t want to understand— about the ways in which younger people use the internet to make our values known, is that we’re not bullies going after people with ‘different opinion’ for sport,” said journalist, Eric Owens, from the New York Times.
People today still take part in the classic public sign protests, but social media is just another resource where people can let their voices be heard. Social media can be one of the only platforms most people have, so it is one place where today’s mass vocalization comes from.