26th February 2017

Your eyes open, as if for the first time, to a world of blurred shapes and soft colours. You recognise your surroundings, though they’re different somehow — it’s as if everything is clearer — more vivid, more real.

As your vision adjusts the shapes develop definition and depth. You can soon see the rich palette used to paint the world. You can feel the texture of the brush strokes and perceive the complexity of the shades — the greys, the charcoals, the off-whites. With your eyes now open you can’t comprehend how you walked the world blind for so long — how you missed all the minute details that make up the whole. With your senses in full bloom you at last realise what’s different: it’s you — you’re finally Woke.

It’s as if you’ve just drank a vente americano or pounded an extra strong matcha as though you’ve suddenly risen to a higher plane of existence than everyone else. Your hyper-awareness has elevated you above the muddle of humanity so you’re now looking down on it, like a benevolent hot air balloon. They don’t know what you know. They can’t see the individual threads that make up the fabric of society, or how their petty prejudices are unravelling it. As you observe them you reflect on how you were once the same, sleepwalking through your life. You pity them. You pity their ignorance. So you take it upon yourself to rouse them from their slumber, to educate them in the ways of social harmony.

You begin by pointing out their lives’ contradictions and hypocrisies with rationale and gentle rhetoric. Then you show them how they can repent, and the feeling of weightlessness that comes with it. But they just stare at you blankly. Or worse, they reject you. You don’t understand — it’s like they don’t want to be awoken. As though they’re content to live in a dream, even if the dream is a lie. You walk the streets dejected, your new found gift twisted into a jagged curse. The weight of the burden drags you back to earth — you’re aware of the world’s injustices, but powerless to stop them. You are Atlas. You are Sisyphus. You’re probably a few of those other tragic Greek heroes as well. Unable to cope, you withdraw from society, quarantining yourself from the vile, contagious bigotry.

Until one day you meet another who is Woke. When you look in their eyes you see the same glint of mindfulness and understanding reflected back. You relate your worldviews fervently to them, ecstatic to have finally found someone who knows what you know. They tell you that there are more like you, but you temper your expectations, already over-familiar with the bitter taste of disappointment.
But it’s true — they introduce you to a whole group of people who take it upon themselves to diagnose the world’s symptoms and concoct remedies to cure it. You watch the wise healers in awe — you thought you were enlightened but now you see there’s much to learn. Joining their ranks, you’re immediately immersed in the heated debates, though “debates” doesn’t quite define them. They sound like debates, the raised voices and impassioned tones give that impression, but there’s rarely any real disagreement. It’s more of an exercise in seeing who can sound the most morally astute, using the limited tools at their disposal; outrage, indignation and volume.

At first you tentatively voice your Wokeness to a tepid reception, but as you gain confidence, the group start to take notice. You begin to engage with others and critique their assumptions, over time gaining more and more moral high ground. Soon the group listens with respect, then reverence. Before long you’re the lead in the chorus, the one people look to for approval. Your sense of purpose is reignited, as though there might be hope for the world yet, and as you feed it you feel yourself leaving the tethers of the physical world again, drifting up into the cold, crisp air of an even higher Wokeness — a sort of meta Wokeness where you can see everything. If before you could see the fabric of society, now you can see the whole tapestry, impossible in its intricacy, stretching endlessly across the horizon. But with this new view comes a new burden. From this height you see that everything still looks the same — nothing has been achieved by the group’s echoing opinions — no one’s mind has been changed. Everyone is still in a dream.

The world shifts again. The vivid colours you first saw begin to peel, revealing the cold rusted metal beneath. The sheen of enlightenment fades from the group as their “debating” devolves into droning. You feel the ballasts dragging you back down again. But it’s still your duty to wake them. So you try to illuminate all that you’ve discovered, and illustrate their efforts’ futility. But just like before, you’re rejected, so you isolate yourself again.

Until one day you meet another who is Post-Woke. You see the same cynicism and weariness reflected back. They tell you that there are more like you, but you’ve been Woke for so long you’ve grown tired. You just want to curl up into a ball and get lost in a dream. So you reject them. And slowly you drift back into society, floating aimlessly down among the transient clouds, where nothing is clear, and you have to ask others for guidance. So you learn to talk to people without condescending them. And you learn to listen. You even learn to understand and respect different viewpoints. But most importantly, you learn to stop referring to yourself as “Woke”.