When I tell someone I majored in social sciences before using that experience to guide my switch to communication design, the response is usually “Social sciences?” That was my first hint that social science is just…unpopular.
Social justice, which naturally falls under the social science umbrella, is even less popular. In fact, most people have no idea what it is. Allow me to help: It’s the virtue that guides the creation of organized human interactions and institutions to benefit social development. That’s it! If you walk away with anything from reading this, let it be that.
Yet, between the horrifying results of American policing last year, the meteoric rise of lightning rod Donald Trump as a potential leader of the free world, and the seemingly-infinite series of threats against women in gaming alone, an argument can be made that social justice hasn’t been this unpopular since my grandmother couldn’t vote.
So, how exactly did it get to this point with social justice? Interestingly enough, how did it get to this point in nerd culture? For a section of society that often touts how above-the-fray it is regarding diversity and inclusion, it’s telling that no one seems able to reach a consensus on the cause.
It’s a shame because by definition, nerd culture should be at the forefront of social justice. As in, you would think a culture born from the ostracized would fight for social development, but when you realize the most passionate detractors of social justice have no idea what social justice is, it’s pretty apparent why we are where we are. After all, who needs facts when they get in the way of fun?
And that’s the bait nerds took. Turns out, it’s easy to perceive something so innocent as social justice — the virtue that’s responsible for creating the human rights we enjoy this very second — as a boogeyman…if you frame it as such.
Enter “Social Justice Warrior”, or “SJW” for the cool kidz.
Take it from someone engaged in brand development: SJW is catchy. Quick, effortless, and palatable to an audience that spends the majority of their time isolated from the general public in outstanding fantasy. A little historically straight white male demographic with zero interest in humanities here, some pent-up frustrations from former bullying victims there, and blaow! You’ve got the makings of a civil rights nightmare in the form of a maxed-out party hellbent on beating the raid boss that is social justice.
I mean, why not? Nerd culture was just fine without the input of pesky SJWs!
True — it was just fine. Whether it’s 1966 or 2016, minding the social sciences just gets in the way. Why else did Star Wars: The Force Awakens shit the bed so badly? Stupid John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. Social justice let them act. What a mistake. Yo, just look at Undertale. Who’s buying that trash garbage?
Here’s another thing: I understand how white men (and women, to some extent) can find themselves crusading against social justice. It’s a dynamic that’s endured the ages. Nerd or not, our society is built for their benefit; why change anything? What I don’t understand, is what’s in it for the handful of people of color, women, or sometimes both who are somehow anti-social justice? Deadass, I’m curious because social justice is the reason we’re able to enjoy…well…anything. Personally, I know I’d be on a trading block instead of typing this article if it weren’t for social justice. What do you gain acting against your own interests? Help me out here; not like we’re snatching up jobs in these industries or anything. I know you’ve got time.
But this social justice stuff is all too complicated. Look, all we want to do is have a little fun, right? Play our video games. Read our comics. Watch our shows and films. Just enjoy ourselves without some zealous, no-fun social justice warrior trampling our institution because they don’t get it. They read too much into our entertainment when it’s all very simple. 2 + 2 = 4 simple.
Well, if I have learned anything as a marginalized person in America, mass media is powerful enough of an influence to make 2 + 2 = dead. That’s what all this comes down to. People die when social justice is not there to bridge the massive gap between interaction and institution, especially in media.
I have enough problems because most of the guys who look like me in media are one-note caricatures and I’m expected to reflect them. Social justice serves the essential function of reminding the public that I am real.
Do you see how ridiculous that is?
Social justice is not here to tell anyone that 2 + 2 does not equal 4.
It’s here to tell everyone that 3 + 1 also equals 4.