While social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and even Instagram and Tumblr, are great for keeping up with your friends, they are also a hotbed for arguing. When there are two sides to an issue, you can bet that there are people who are arguing about it on the internet, especially on a platform like Facebook among friends, or on a site like Tumblr where you can stay anonymous if you would like.
One of the largest categories of these issues are social justice issues. Social justice is the field that is concerned with equality for all people regardless of their background, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic status, social status, etc. Because these issues are often very personal, people who discuss them online and sometimes even anonymously are often very passionate.
It is often useful to have a conversation or discussion about these topics. For example, educating someone on the history of discrimination of one group can be constructive and civil. Online, however, these people can take their rhetoric to a much nastier level.
Instead of trying to have a simple, educational or understanding conversation with someone, they can attack people who do not know that using girl to describe a grown woman can be offensive, or that using oriental should be limited to objects rather than used for Asian people. These people whose first instinct is to react with anger are commonly referred to as SJW.
SJW stands for social justice warrior
A social justice warrior is someone who believes strongly in equality for all people. They believe that people should not be turned away from a job or even by their own family because they are gay, and understand concepts such as girls being told by their teachers that math and science are too difficult for them, which steers them away from science and engineering fields in the future.
This is great, but they forget that not everyone has been exposed to the knowledge and research that they have. Instead, they expect everyone, especially people who are still learning, to be perfect. They have a holier than thou attitude, which means that they look down on anyone who does not know as much about the topic as they do.
As you can guess, being called an SJW is not something good. It represents someone who is haughty, too confident in themselves, and does not recognize that the process of change, especially social change in a society, is slow and requires a lot of effort. Nor do the people remember that they were also once uneducated and standing in the same position of the people that they are now looking down on.
Social Justice Advocate
The line between someone being an SJW and one being a social justice advocate is thin. An advocate is a good thing, as someone who educates and tries to interact with and understand people with different viewpoints rather than ridicule them. Most people have very strong opinions on their personal characteristics because they were not chosen, nor are they subject to change.
Someone who is white will always be white, and someone who is gay will always be gay. Expectations for each group are deeply embedded into modern society, and tensions across these identities – known as identity politics – seem to be especially prominent now. An attack on a particular group seems like a personal attack, and can cause a lot of harsh words to be exchanged.
Because discussions of social justice topics, especially sensitive ones like race or religion, are almost always online, the term SJW is almost always used online. It is not something that anyone likes to be called, so it would be ideal.
- Stop being such an SJW! That person was actually trying to be sensitive.
- The problem with SJWs is that they end up alienating people even more rather than educating them and eventually helping them change.
In speech, the term social justice warrior is rarely used. Instead, it is called policing or policing language. If someone is pointing out every mistake that someone else makes, they are like the police, trying to catch someone in the act, even if what they do is not that bad.