A Problematic Guide to the Social Justice Left
What the Social Justice Left believes, how they put those beliefs into practice, and how their unwillingness to communicate have set back public discourse.
Online movements tend to be amorphous, vague, their defining principles set by the mob in complex and anarchic performances competing to maximize signal boosting. The sheer breadth of signals, replete with frequent bouts of infighting within each movement, can make them all but impossible to understand to an outsider. This is the era of the online culture wars, and to those without an unhealthy amount of time to devote to understanding the often inane complexities, it can be a daunting task to keep track of where the ideological winds are blowing. Among the strongest sources of those winds is a typhoon of an ideology best described as Social Justice.
The definition and origins of Social Justice are deep with philosophical credits, going back to a Jesuit priest and including Rawls’ seminal A Theory of Justice. The problem is that modern day Social Justice bears little resemblance to its philosophical roots. Rawls’ A Theory of Justice never argued that donning a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo constituted the serious crime of cultural appropriation.
To understand modern Social Justice we must look at the practice of Social Justice. Specifically, it is important to examine its methodology on Twitter, because that is where modern media, which has become increasingly dependent on the day-to-day happenings on Twitter, has elevated Social Justice from an obscure academic niche to a full-blown outrage machine with a heavy-handed influence on television, movies, video games, comic books, and, increasingly, politics.
It is the world of video games that brought me to the world of Social Justice. It is the dominant ideology among the major video gaming media. Through my experience as a video game journalist I have noticed distinct, consistent patterns both on Twitter and in the media. This is an account of those observations. It is by no means exhaustive, nor is it entirely judgmental. I may agree with some aspects of the Social Justice movement. Most of my criticism will focus on the practice of Social Justice and less on its foundational principles.
Please note that when I refer to Social Justice, I am capitalizing the words to separate it from some general notion of social justice. If you ask a random person on the street if they support social justice, they will likely say they do. Are they against racism? Of course. Sexism? Definitely. Do they believe that a celebrity saying women don’t possess penises is problematic enough that they will take to the internet to lash out at that celebrity? Unlikely. That’s a different person from what most of us encounter in our day-to-day lives. That is someone invested in Social Justice.
Social Justice with capitalization is almost exclusively found in three places: academia, online communities like Twitter or Tumblr, and on ultra-progressive websites like Vox, VICE, Huffington Post, and many more.
This guide is written to help you understand what it is and how to identify it. I’ll examine how it is practiced and I will criticize its detrimental impact on public discourse.
The Tenets of Social Justice
One could easily take a deep dive into the foundations of Social Justice and look through gender studies books written by bell hooks (her name is not capitalized) or modern articles written by Amanda Marcotte along with numerous others. This guide is less concerned with the academic roots and more about the pragmatic. From what I have observed, modern Social Justice is comprised of three tenets.
Identity: The Foundation of Social Justice
Identity is everything to the Social Justice Left. Every facet of Social Justice relies on it. Race, gender, status as non-binary gender, sexual orientation, physical fitness, and just about any other trait you can possibly imagine are all paramount to the ideology. Identity is the lens through which the Social Justice Left views everything –not just politics.
Perhaps our most frequent run-ins with the Social Justice Left are when we are confronted with this identity-as-everything view of the media. When Scarlett Johansson is cast in the role of a transgender man, we see their uproar. When Scarlett Johansson is cast in the role of a Japanese anime character, 100,000 of them sign a petition against “whitewashing”. And it affects non-Scarlett Johansson characters as well!
Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street should be gay according to the Social Justice Left, even though sexuality is never a topic on the show. When Rockstar Games announced Red Dead Redemption 2, there was a profound disappointment among the Social Justice Left that the protagonist wasn’t a woman. A Eurogamer interview with CD Projekt Red about the upcoming mega-game Cyberpunk 2077 spent an inordinate amount of time talking about whether you could play as a gender fluid character and change your personal pronouns. It seems that every week there is a new outrage where the Social Justice Left is calling for a boycott or deplatforming or they’re pushing to have identity brought to the forefront of entertainment that has little or nothing to do with these issues.
“Representation matters” is the argument. It’s important that people are able to see themselves in media, declares the Social Justice Left. “Folk” (they have a thing about referring to people as folk) need to see that ethnic minorities, women, gay people and all the other identity traits can be superheroes or video game protagonists. They need to see that white and male is not the default, is not the “normal”. But it goes far beyond silly outrage over media casting choices. It goes beyond the not-radical idea that our elected representatives should be a reflection of ourselves. People have lost their jobs for not acknowledging that identity is everything.
Apple’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion (the position itself goes to show the importance of identity) dared to suggest that diversity is more than just identity traits, that a group of blonde, blue-eyed men can be diverse. She resigned after the Social Justice Left expressed their outrage.
A recruiter who worked for YouTube filed a lawsuit against Google for what he alleges were hiring practices that encouraged him to explicitly cancel interviews with people who were not female, black, or Hispanic. Google denies the claim.
The United States Department of Justice backed a lawsuit against Harvard University for an admissions policy that unfairly discriminated against Asian-Americans, it claims.
As the Social Justice Left trickles down from its academic niche into the more mainstream, it’s likely that people who would normally never confront the ideology will become increasingly affected by the notion that their race, their gender, the traits over which they have no control, are becoming more important than their education, their talents, and their experiences.
The reason that identity is so important to the Social Justice Left is intersectionalism. Originating from niche academic feminism like much of Social Justice, it has become a broader term used to underscore the importance of identity. Intersectionalism is, loosely, the concept that systems of power have a cumulative negative impact on those people with more than one trait that can be considered marginalized. In other words, if you are black then you are of a marginalized status. If you are a woman, then you are of a marginalized status. Intersectionalism says that if you are a black woman, then it adds up and makes life even worse.
Intersectional feminists believe that there is no feminism without intersectionalism. Those feminists who do not ascribe to intersectionalism (the most notable being Christina Hoff Sommers) are not true feminists, and thus contribute to racism, sexism, and inequity against the marginalized. Social Justice can be brutally for-us-or-against-us.
The inverse of this marginalization is privilege, or put simply, an unfair advantage. If you are a white, heterosexual, cisgendered man (meaning not transgender), then you are at the height of privilege and, according to Social Justice, you are playing life on Easy Mode.
This is why identity is so important in Social Justice. Your identity traits affect your position within the Social Justice caste. As a person of privilege who supports Social Justice, you must defer to the “lived experiences” or inherent expertise in life of those with less privilege. If you are white and disagree with a person of color (another term they really like — how it differs from “colored person” I don’t know), then you’re in danger of committing the crime of denying their lived experience, and you could be called out and excommunicated from Social Justice. If you are a man and attempt to explain something to a woman, then you’ve likely committed the crime of mansplaining.
In Social Justice the marginalized are of higher status, to be believed without question. Those of higher privilege and thus lesser status are forever relegated to the subservient position of “ally”. It is the ally’s duty to amplify and support the marginalized. Oddly enough, a large proportion of the top influencers in Social Justice are white men.
When intersectionalism argues that systems of power have a cumulative negative impact on the marginalized, the systems of power they’re talking about are capitalism. It is their belief that oppression is an inherent component of capitalism. They offer slavery as an example. Like the rest of Social Justice theory, this idea has roots in academia. Specifically, intersectional feminism has roots in Marxist critical theory, and its devotees are fiercely pro-socialism and unionization, often arguing that the answer to our political problems requires us to seize the means of production.
Under anti-capitalism I’m including colonialism, imperialism, white supremacy, as well as patriarchy, as they are all effectively similar concepts in Social Justice: the notion that social injustice is built in to the foundations of the United States in particular and to this day is a fundamental, inseparable feature of the capitalist system.
The only way to truly, effectively deal with inequity (note that they prefer to use “equity” over “equality”) is to tear down the capitalist system in power.
Now that we’ve established the basis of Social Justice, let’s take a look at it in action.
If you ask most people about racism, they will say it is some form of prejudice or discrimination based on race. In Social Justice, however, power is a necessary component of that equation. There is no racism or sexism without the power component.
White women are all garbage.
That is a statement most of us would immediately dislike. I have faith that an overwhelming majority of the public would consider that statement innately racist and sexist.
In Social Justice, however, it depends entirely on who is making that statement. If you’re a white man then you’re a misogynist. If you’re a black woman then it is neither racist nor sexist. Black people cannot be racist against white people. Women cannot be sexist against men. White people have the power. Men have the power.
We recently saw this in action with Sarah Jeong, who was hired to the New York Times editorial staff despite making statements like “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men” and “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” When it was announced she would join the NY Times editorial staff, people lambasted the decision on Twitter. Any person saying such things about a minority would be immediately fired, they argued.
The Social Justice Left immediately jumped to Jeong’s defense. Vox, which owns The Verge where Jeong had previously worked and is firmly on the side of Social Justice, wrote, “To equate ‘being mean to white people’ with the actual systemic oppression and marginalization of minority groups is a false equivalency.”
Jeong is a woman of South Korean heritage. Her identity is the reason she kept her job.
Social Justice is performative. This is why Sarah Jeong broadcast to the world how much she hates old white men. She probably doesn’t really hate old white men — she’s probably even kind to old white men when she meets them — but announcing to the world her disdain for the ones in power, the ones who maintain the status quo, serves as a declaration of her wokeness, her devotion to the in-group of Social Justice.
In her book Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle referred to it as “creating scarcity in an online economy of virtue.” Those who publicly perform Social Justice the best are rewarded with the most influence and status, and often even significant amounts of money. One of the primary tools in this peacocking is the call-out.
Calling Out the Problematic is their Sport
Identifying and calling out racism, sexism, etc — which, for the sake of brevity I will refer to as anti-identity crime — is the primary means of performance for those devoted to Social Justice. Those who recognize and call out anti-identity crime are greatly rewarded in their economy of virtue with what I call “woke points.” Woke Points earn them status within the in-group, with which they acquire followers and influence and respect, and sometimes even a significant amount of money through Patreon or other donations.
An example of this phenomenon is the Racism Watchdog (@RacismDog) Twitter account. This account’s entire purpose is to identify and publicly call attention to racism. The Racism Watchdog has proven to be a mostly adept player of this Social Justice game, although the account owners did make the mistake of calling out anti-white racism and were promptly bludgeoned by the Social Justice Left for the crime against Plus Power. For successfully playing the Call Out Game, the Racism Watchdog has been rewarded with the influence that comes from having over half a million Twitter followers.
Another major player in the Call Out Game is Brianna Wu. Earlier in the year, Wu, one of several who have turned their fight against GamerGate (an online movement of gamers largely fed up with Social Justice dominance in gaming media) into Social Justice influence, played the Call Out Game and identified Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari as a sexist. He was due for an award from the Game Developer’s Conference for his role in fathering the video game industry, but that award was rescinded when Brianna Wu’s allegations of sexism created a miniature outrage movement on Twitter that quickly escalated to the front pages of sympathetic outlets like The Verge and Rolling Stone’s failed gaming site Glixel, who posted the allegations without any investigation into their veracity.
Having been familiar with Brianna Wu’s status as a Call Out Game player on Twitter for some time, I did my own investigation into the matter, and found her allegations to be baseless. Kotaku eventually confirmed my investigation with their own, though written in a much more sympathetic tone to the accusers, failing to even mention Brianna Wu and her blatant misinterpretations of old articles that started the controversy.
But it didn’t matter that her allegations were without merit. Wu ran for congress in her home state of Massachusetts and lost, and no media confronted her about her baseless accusations that cost a man an award. One of the top Google searches for Nolan Bushnell now says “Atari founder Nolan Bushnell loses award after sexism outcry”. There were no consequences for Wu or the others who played the Call Out Game and won.
In practice, those on the receiving end of these call-outs can expect as much vitriol as is commonly associated with the alt-right. Doxing, harassment, and even death threats are frequently sent to those being called out by a Social Justice mob. This is not new behavior on the internet, of course. The difference with Social Justice is that they are often too partisan to acknowledge their side can be just as intimidating as those they oppose, and the way in which they treat minorities who oppose them.
Internalized Misogyny / Uncle Toms
If you publicly disagree with Social Justice and you are not a white man, then the Social Justice mob can be especially cruel. It is common for them to deny your existence as a minority. They will say that you are a sockpuppet — a white man acting like a minority. If that route is disproven, then they will say you are a useful idiot — an unwitting tool of the power class, being used against your own best interests. If you are black they might call you an Uncle Tom. If you’re a woman they’ll say you have internalized misogyny — that you somehow have an inner hatred for your own gender. They will say that you just want to be one of those “cool” kids who are part of the majority. Identity is everything, and that is exactly what they will attack. You may be branded a traitor. It is vicious, designed to dissuade others from making the same mistake of questioning them.
The Social Justice Left is odd in that there is no outreach, no attempt to recruit people to their side. Their side is one of anti-bigotry, pro-inclusivity, pro-equality, pro-women’s rights. They are on the right side of history. If you oppose them then you are anti-equality, anti-inclusivity. You are a bigot. You are a Nazi. You are a fascist. You are a misogynist. You are a racist.
This is how people are recruited to Social Justice. People naturally want to be good. Equality, inclusivity, women’s rights — these are all things a good person would support, naturally. And honestly, I don’t know how people make the jump from supporting equality and supporting progressive causes to becoming a full-on Social Justice supporter who puts on public displays of wokeness and plays the Call Out Game. I do know that once people have made that leap then they are familiar enough with the game of Social Justice to know that their disagreement with the collective will be punished.
Unfortunately, if it’s not something you understand, and especially if you disagree with certain aspects of Social Justice, then any attempts to communicate with them result in…
You Have Been Blocked
The people who advocate for Social Justice are the most prolific users of block lists on the internet. If you are not among the Social Justice Left on Twitter then it is not at all unusual to find yourself blocked by thousands of Social Justice advocates with whom you’ve never interacted. You may have committed the crime of following established enemies or one of the block list patrollers found one of your statements offensive or perhaps you used the wrong hashtag, whether you disagreed with it or supported it; there are dozens of easily shared block lists out there blocking a cumulative total in the hundreds of thousands, if not more.
Wil Wheaton was one of the primary distributors of these block lists. In his pinned Tweet he advocated to his 3 million+ followers that using his blocklist would “remove a lot of toxic garbage from your mentions and timelines.” Unfortunately for Wheaton, it turned out that transgender activists wound up on this blocklist, and when Wheaton moved off of Twitter to Mastodon, a site catering to the extreme Social Justice Left, he was run off social media entirely. His crimes included blocking a transgender user that made a joke at his expense. Identity is everything.
He wrote a blog post to decry the state of the world, without coming to the realization that his own behavior was a disproportionately large factor in the decline in public discourse.
Blocking is so prevalent among the Social Justice Left that two-way communication is all but impossible. There is no disagreement with them, because disagreement is bigotry and why would they talk to bigots? Nearly every interaction with a Social Justice Twitter advocate will end in a block if there is any disagreement.
You Cannot Debate Social Justice
Debate is almost never possible with Social Justice. There is nothing to debate. They are on the right side of history. They are against bigotry, so why would they debate someone who disagrees with them; someone who is necessarily pro-bigotry? That’s like debating the KKK, they argue. And the very act of debating those who disagree with them is legitimizing those bigoted beliefs. As Social Justice tastemaker Laurie Penny puts it in her conveniently-titled piece, No I will not debate you:
I am not interested in hearing out the ideas of the far right, because there are no new ideas on the far right. There are only new recruits. And every time progressives sacrifice the public good on the altar of personal purity, there will be more.
In an era where communication with the world is easier than it has ever been, you will find very few exchanges of ideas between the Social Justice Left and those opposed to them. Any attempt to engage them with disagreement will more often than not lead to you being blocked.
Not only are they not interested in the exchange of ideas, Social Justice advocates seem to have a disproportionate desire to have those who disagree with them removed from social media altogether.
Becca Lewis is a researcher with Data & Society, and just published a networking analysis purportedly showing the interconnectedness of the reactionary right on YouTube. “Notably, YouTube is a principal online news source for young people. Which is why it is concerning that YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, has become the single most important hub by which an extensive network of far-right influencers profit from broadcasting propaganda to young viewers,” the report concludes.
These “far-right influencers” include people who many consider to be standard conservatives, such as Ben Shapiro, or even traditionally liberal, such as Dave Rubin.
Becca Lewis is a fan of deplatforming, or removing bad influences from social media.
The Social Justice Left has successfully campaigned to remove conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from nearly the entire internet, including Facebook, YouTube, and eventuallyTwitter. Even PayPal followed suit and banned Jones and his Infowars website. Whether deserved or not, the speed and totality of Jones’ dismissal from the internet has been shocking.
The Social Justice Left argues that “deplatforming works”. It is a necessary tool to protect our youth from radicalization, they claim. They often cite the downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos as proof of this tactic, ignoring that he gained millions of followers on Facebook after his expulsion from Twitter, where he had around a quarter million followers and that it wasn’t deplatforming that led to his downfall, but his controversial stance on pedophilia that was originally publicized by conservatives.
But deplatforming advocacy has gained traction among the Social Justice Left and we will see an increasing number of attempts at removing controversial speakers from public outlets along with an increasing number of calls for boycotts. Brands beware.
Both-Sideism / Centrists
Among the many platforms of Social Justice is the belief that there are not two sides to every story. They will actively campaign against listening to both sides and attack journalists who give time to those they disagree with. If a journalist interviews someone they don’t like, then that journalist is legitimizing hate or bigotry.
Disclosure: I have been publicly called out for both-sideism by Sarah Jeong for listening to the opinions of GamerGate supporters.
The Social Justice Left also views centrists or moderates with disdain. In their view if you are not advocating for their often far-left progressive agenda then you are supporting the status quo, which makes you a conservative. Some actually argue that libertarianism is a gateway drug to the far right.
Oddly, there are few people more worthy of disdain to the Social Justice Left than Ayn Rand.
The Language of Social Justice
Because performance is so crucial to Social Justice, its advocates have quickly formed language norms that help to establish their loyalty to the group. Here are a few of the words and phrases I’ve observed that are uniquely characteristic of the Social Justice Left.
Problematic — There is no word more representative of Social Justice. It is used to define anything that could possibly offend Social Justice sensibilities, and so it is used to describe nearly everything. Vox and its subsidiary websites tend to be the worst offender, though its use is ubiquitous in academia as well. They never, ever tire of using this word.
Toxic — In the world of video games you may have heard that people curse each other out sometimes. This has been going on since games appeared online, of course, but in the last few years it has become en vogue to describe this behavior as “toxic”. It has grown from a description of gamer culture to include any “problematic” fandom engaging in heated arguments about that which they are fanatic. Again, this is behavior that has been going on forever, but the media has glommed onto the word “toxic” to describe it and present it as some new phenomenon.
Remember the word “pwn”? It was trash talk. It was in style years ago to say “I pwned you, noob!” and there were no articles written about it. Now the use of the word would be considered toxic behavior.
“Toxic” is also used in a much more political way by Social Justice devotees. They use it to describe a vague sort of masculinity that supports dominance over women and suppresses emotions. They believe that this toxic masculinity is to blame for mass shootings and other social perils, and is a feature of the patriarchy.
Gross — To those involved in SocJus, “gross” is used less to describe something the typical person finds disgusting, like stepping in dog poo, and used more to describe behavior that offends Social Justice sensibilities. It’s like problematic, but more overt. On Twitter it is unlikely you can find a Social Justice supporter who has not used the word “gross” in this way. And that is not hyperbole.
Entitlement — Another en vogue term, “entitled” also first came to my attention as a word used to describe gamers who were unhappy with the awful ending to Mass Effect 3. Gamers wanted the developer to change the ending because it was so bad, so the gaming media deemed them entitled.
The meaning of the word hasn’t changed — it still means the feeling of having a right to something — but Social Justice is unusually quick to use the label. It is not uncommon to ask someone in the Social Justice Left, especially a woman, an innocent question and be accused of an undue entitlement to her time and emotional labor should that question offend her.
Harassment — In Social Justice, harassment has largely become diluted to mean disagreement. This is mostly a Twitter phenomenon, where, unlike Facebook, each post you publish goes out to the world and can easily end up viewed by thousands or millions of people. Social Justice is performative and therefore many people will respond to those performances. While there are truly moments of harassment and nastiness on Twitter, there are also cries of harassment that are just people unprepared to receive the volume of disagreement.
This is further complicated by women viewing harassment and online communication differently from men. Though it’s been reported that men actually receive more harassment than women, women view it as more of a problem and it has become a Social Justice cause célèbre.
During GamerGate, a subset of Social Justice came forward to oppose harassment, frequently referred to as Anti-Harassment Twitter. Their tactics, strongly utilizing the Call Out Game, were largely inseparable from the harassment they were supposedly fighting. Their relevance has diminished almost completely over the past two years.
Manbabies / Pissbaby — The Something Awful website has been a major influence on Social Justice. From its influence came the once-popular insult “pissbaby”, used against entitled, presumably young white men. It has since fallen in popularity, but “manbaby” is now frequently used in its stead. It is a uniquely Social Justice insult, often used together with entitlement.
Words are Violence — This is not so much an overused phrase among Social Justice as it is a concept unique to Social Justice. They believe that hate speech (anti-identity crime) is by itself violence. This is especially true in transgender issues, where transgender people are disproportionately affected by violence from others as well as suicide. As a result, many believe that causing offenses against transgender people such as deadnaming, or using the person’s original name before he/she transitioned — is an act of violence in itself.
Erasure –Those who have committed anti-identity crime are often accused of erasing the identity of those who are offended. Controversial statements such as “all women have vaginas” is a crime because transgender men who have transitioned to women do not have vaginas. This is one of the reasons LGBTQ+ has changed to include just about every letter in the alphabet. Identity is so important that if you do not include anyone, you’ve erased their identity.
Cultural Appropriation — Part of anti-identity crime like racism or sexism, cultural appropriation is one of the more identifiable issues brought forward by the Social Justice Left. This includes wearing a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo or wearing a kimono if you’re not of Japanese origin. Interestingly, those whose culture is being appropriated are rarely offended by the gesture, and are even complimented by the cultural interest. Social Justice is there to defend them anyways.
Mansplain — Technically, mansplaining is when a man attempts to explain something to a woman with the false assumption that he knows or understands something she does not. In practice, mansplaining is used to dismiss a man’s opinion because the female supporter of Social Justice does not appreciate his input. The aforementioned Brianna Wu is a prolific user of the word, famously using it to dismiss one person who turned out to be a woman.
Female — They don’t like the word “female”. They say it sounds like Ferengi from Star Trek. BuzzFeed wrote that using the word is “reducing a woman to her reproductive abilities [and] is dehumanizing and exclusionary.”
Fascist / Nazi / Alt-Right — Pretty much everyone to the right of the Social Justice Left.
Dogwhistle — A dogwhistle is when you use “coded” language to make a subtle call to certain groups. For example, talking about wanting to improve border security can be construed as a dogwhistle to those who are racist against people of Hispanic origin. It is often used as part of the Call Out Game.
Folk — It’s a common word but Social Justice takes the odd step of overusing this word to describe marginalized populations — transfolk, queerfolk, etc.
Marginalized — Anyone not a white man, though white women are increasingly being considered along with white men as the problematic status quo.
Garbage — This is among their most common insults. Again, this is notable primarily because of its sheer overuse among the Social Justice Left. If you are among the many that fight against their ideology, you may be called a “garbage human.”
A few weeks ago, CD Projekt Red, the game developer behind the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, made what the Social Justice Left determined was a transphobic joke. Social Justice Twitter went into outrage mode and CD Projekt Red deleted the tweet and apologized. This was the perfect opportunity for those in the SocJus Left to signal to each other their status within the group, and one such person was successful in doing so, posting a tweet that went somewhat viral.
“The most cyberpunk thing you can do is just be kind and respectful online,” he posted. It received more than 12,000 likes and 3,000 retweets.
Because that is among the least cyberpunk things I can think of, I mocked the tweet, posting, “I’m pretty sure flying a car over a dystopian city’s skyline filled with neon advertising is a lot more cyberpunk than being respectful online.”
When the original poster saw my tweet, he blocked me and complained about me publicly. When asked why people like me are the way we are, he responded, “Some people just hate empathy and people who aren’t white men I guess.”
That is the typical, by-the-book “interaction” with a Social Justice Left supporter on Twitter. He immediately blocked me because he’s not at all interested in an exchange of ideas. He outright said I hate people who are not white men, because I mocked his tweet with a description of what we stereotypically define as cyberpunk. That is how Social Justice works. That is what I mean by identity is everything. It’s so paramount to their belief system that they cannot conceive of their opposition in any terms other than racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
And they will block you, because why would they engage with someone like that?
The Social Justice Left is unique among weird online ideologies in that they are insular, closed-off, and impervious to criticism. They are not interested in reaching those who think differently from them. The vast majority of them are not interested in conversation, in the exchange of ideas. Rather, their conversations with those outside of Social Justice are often staged performances, designed to signal to their in-group.
Those of you reading this guide have likely experienced these interactions. You’ve been left wondering how the hell this person on the Social Justice Left could have interpreted your words in the way they did. The answer is simple: you were talking to them, but their part was but a performance put on for others in their in-group. It is a profoundly juvenile way of non-communication, and Social Justice has all but made a significant amount of online discourse impossible.
The problem is that those engaging in such behavior on the Social Justice Left are not reading this guide. It is an ideology entirely convinced of its own rightness and the evil of its opposition. That is why they are impervious to criticism. An entire industry has been built around opposing Social Justice, largely because of this impasse in communication, but little has changed.
Honestly, I don’t know how we can fix it when they are not open to communication. I do know, however, that I have cause for hope and cause for concern. (There’s that both-sideism again!)
The concern is that the Social Justice Left is expanding from their niche in academia and from the world of video games, and their jargon is now being found in our politics. Take this tweet from congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in response to a debate challenge from Ben Shapiro.
You can see the familiar pattern of invoking identity, noting specifically that she’s up against “men.” She talks about entitlement. She likens the challenge to public debate to catcalling, a form of harassment. This is the language of the Social Justice Left.
It is not intended to speak to me or you or Ralph the plumber down the street. It’s intended to expand their influence in their own spheres. And that gives me cause for hope.
Because they are not trying to speak to Ralph the plumber. All those normal, everyday people out there like Ralph that go out to the local greasy spoon for a burger have no idea what the Social Justice Left is about. This is a niche ideology, and while those of us who spend too much time on Twitter have been overexposed to its craziness, the normal person has no idea what the hell is going on. They’re not talking about heteronormativity or declaring that all feminism must be intersectional. They’re able to laugh at a joke about Bruce Jenner without thinking the joke itself is violence.
Social Justice cannot continue forever without outreach. Eventually it will eat itself to death, creating ever-shrinking economies of virtue that will exclude all but the most radical. But who knows when that time will come? I do know that it will be a bumpy ride until then. And, until then, take some comfort in the fact that there are people out there who realize you might not be a racist woman-hater just because you didn’t like The Last Jedi or because you had some other disagreement with the Social Justice Left. The world has not gone completely crazy. Just Twitter.
Thank you for reading! If you found value in my piece I’d like to ask you to consider supporting my work on Patreon or PayPal. It is through the generous support of people like you that allows me to continue writing. You can follow me on Twitter @Brad_Glasgow for much more concise thoughts, gaming news, and the musings of a sore fat man trying to become fit.