How To Stay Woke In 2018 According To The Twenties Club

17.01.18

In this new global landscape, where historically taboo subjects like politics, religion and equality are now fair game at the water cooler and the dinner table, it’s important that we as twenty-somethings remain woke. Having a social conscience is just the tip of the iceberg in 2018 and opportunities for activism – no matter how small the gesture – are everywhere.

It doesn’t have to be a tectonic shift in the way you live, you don’t need to throw away everything and commit your life’s purpose to changing the world, it could simply be a handful of deliberate choices that you make over and over again.

Social media seems like an obvious place to start because it is so heavily embedded into every single thing we do and influences the decisions we make and the way our opinions are formed. When Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election in 2016 I was completely blindsided because all of the news outlets, Instagram accounts, opinion pieces and websites I was reading indicated that people were voting for her.

But that was the problem: everyone I was following was Clinton-inclined. There was an entire population of people who weren’t. There were literally millions of Trump supporters that simply weren’t showing up on my feed, and that’s because social media apps like Instagram and Facebook purposely only show you what you want to see so that they can cultivate an environment that feels comfortable and positive.

This is problematic on so many levels; not only does it paint a false picture of reality but it also derails us from ever seeing things from another person’s perspective. Yes, you might completely disagree with a Trump supporter on gun control, immigration or abortion, but aren’t you even just a little bit curious as to where they’re coming from? If we can engage in conversations, no matter how uncomfortable they are, with people who have different opinions to us then we’re more likely to understand them and ultimately find common ground. So my advice is to actively engage with websites, news outlets, and social media accounts that go against what you believe in and just observe the dialogue. Even if it makes you feel icky.

The best way to do this is to head to the ‘Opinion’ section of your usual news sites. For example: A website like the New York Times (my addiction) is, both fortunately and unfortunately, a liberal beast and so the majority of content you find there is going to be anti-Trump, pro-immigration, etc etc. But hidden away in the opinion pieces lies a much broader range of, well, opinions. Spend some time there. Get uncomfortable.

There’s also so many cool podcasts, columns and writers that we can engage with in 2018 to expand our thinking. Podcasts like The High Low (another one of my addictions) which is a pop culture and current affairs show hosted by British journalists Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. It’s a weekly show that covers a mix of CNN-esque issues like the debates around corporate egg-freezing all the way to whether Taylor Swift is a billboard for Trumpian values. Plus they begin each episode by sharing what television series, podcasts and articles they’ve read that week and loved.

P.s. If you’re going to start listening to The High Low I would recommend going back a few months and working your way towards the most current episode, it’s good to get a feel of how the episodes are structured (and also because once you fall in love with it you won’t want to miss a single second). Between their articulation, their intelligence, their humour and their opinions on basically everything, they are a girl-crush-inducing pair. You. Will. Love. It. I promise.

And lastly, on the back of what’s been a (hopefully) culture-changing few months in Hollywood with sexual assault and harassment finally being acknowledged, 2018 should be an opportunity for us to look at the questionable behaviour going on in our own work environments.

We can start with a visit to the Times Up website. I’ve always firmly believed that knowledge is power and such is the case with something like the Times Up movement. Yes, it began as a financial fund and public letter signed by 300 of Hollywood’s most famous women, but it really has nothing to do with “celebrity” and everything to do with women’s rights. Two simple words that have lost their meaning somewhere along the way. Educate yourself on what Times Up are trying to achieve, access the resources provided on their website and then show it to your girlfriends next time you’re at brunch. Start a dialogue.

Lastly, and probably the best advice I can give: If you see something – say something.

Say it immediately. It doesn’t matter if it happens to you or a girlfriend or a colleague you don’t particularly like, just get into the habit of using your voice when you experience something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Because chances are, if it made you feel gross then it probably made someone else feel gross too. And if you don’t feel powerful enough to speak up in front of a room full of people, then tell a girlfriend you trust in private so that you have an ally going forward.

I know it’s awkward and I know you might think, “Yeah Mads but why can’t Paul just not put his hand on my ass in the elevator…”. And the answer is because that is the culture that has been supported for the past forty or fifty years, and sadly it might take just as long to undo it.

It starts with us.

Stay woke my angels.