The Internet is rapidly changing our language without any doubt. The terms that emerge on Internet, specifically social media, very quickly become part of our lives and even dictionaries.
The phrase we are discussing today had a different meaning a few years ago, but the Internet entirely changed its connotation.
If you have heard “SJW” on Reddit or Twitter and never got your head around its meaning, this one is for you.
“SJW” or “Social Justice Warrior” is a derogatory term for someone who talks about social justice. Social media turned it into a meme and a pejorative term. People use it for those who express socially progressive and liberal views, but their intentions are self-serving and hypocritical. They do not care about social or political issues and only participate in the conversation for validation.
There is a whole story behind how or why “SJW” became a slur. If that sounds interesting, then keep reading this article till the end!
Social Justice Warrior or SJW
“SJW” is an acronym for “Social Justice Warrior.” It is a derogatory term and a meme for those who appear to have more progressive and liberal views.
These people are vocal about their stance against sexism, discrimination, capitalism, biases, autocracy, and other issues.
According to Collins and Oxford Dictionaries, social justice warrior is a derogatory term used for a person who actively participates in matters of social justice.
Now, you must be confused and wondering why the social justice warrior is a derogatory term.
For many centuries (dating back to the 19th century), people took it upon themselves to fight for equality and justice. Many prominent leaders, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and others, fought for the rights of minorities.
Then, there were feminist movements that raised their voices against gender discrimination. Some fought against capitalism, and some against the aristocracy.
Social justice is paramount to a prosperous and healthy society.
The idea behind social justice is that everyone should have equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities, irrespective of gender, color, race, ethnicity, and religion.
All these good things about social justice must make you wonder how or why these SJWs or social justice warriors got such a bad connotation on the Internet.
Many anti-SJW subreddits openly expressed their hatred towards all these SJWs. Similarly, there were many YouTube channels with anti-SJW narratives. You will also find many memes against SJWs. Why?
You are wrong if you think people hate SJWs because they hate progressivism, feminism, equality, and inclusivity.
The problem is that the SJWs show social progressiveness only for personal validation.
Let’s shed more light on this point in this next section.
Why Is Social Justice Warrior a Derogatory Term?
If you look at the period before 2008 or 2011, the social justice warrior was not at all a slur word or a derogatory term. People took pride in being called social justice warriors.
The definition of social justice warrior took a turn after 2011, and it all started on Twitter. Later the same year, the first negative definition of SJW also popped up in the Urban Dictionary.
Why do Reddit or other social media platforms hate SJWs?
The reason is that SJWs are hypocrites and insincere in their cause. SJWs are always very vocal and overzealous to seem more authentic. Sometimes they express their views to stay relevant on social media.
When SJWs see others creating content on a particular topic, they also hop on the bandwagon seeing the current trend. They care less about the cause and more about getting validation.
Their sentiments are self-serving.
The classic example is big fashion labels (let’s avoid names).
Many brands strategically used the “Black Lives Matters” hashtag on their social media, with their posts showing solidarity with the black community.
On the contrary, these brands are accused of white privilege and zero inclusivity in their work environment.
So, an SJW does not believe in the cause; they are not as progressive as they try to appear and have no strong principles. Everything is mere pretension for more recognition or to achieve their objectives.
How Did SJW Get Negative Meaning?
If you ask how SJW got such a negative connotation, it is hard to say what turned this seemingly perfect phrase into something derogatory.
The term indeed became mainstream after the Gamergate incident.
In 2015, the Gamergate catastrophe (Internet cultural war) took the Internet by storm, where there were two parties. There were misogynist harassers against feminism, inclusivity, and progressivism in the video gaming industry.
The self-righteous Gamergater targeted and even harassed women in the gaming industry with rape threats.
They proclaimed that their movement was a social movement aimed to raise voices against anybody who breaches gaming and journalism ethics.
So they took over Reddit, Twitter, and 4chan to protest against these ethical breaches of all women in the gaming industry.
Long story short, this entire episode was more about male ego and misogyny than ethics. Men were not ready to see women in the gaming industry changing the dynamics, so they trolled and bullied these women.
The Gamegaters tinted the SJW image, so it never got its grace back.
The Final Thoughts
Well, this is not the end for social justice warriors. We know how, over the years, the term changed from positive to negative.
Seeing the fast-changing trends on the Internet, you never maybe it again gets its glory back.
Let’s hold it till then and wait to see whether the tables turn again for the social justice warriors.