Proof Of Woke

no I didn't come up with the pun first

Proof Of Woke

So, I've been thinking about blockchain technologies a bit lately. Something that their advocates say of them is that they are "trustless"; needing no established institution to act as a mediator to transactions. What occurred to me—and I've been chewing on this one for a while—is maybe, outside of all the signalling and noise, cancel culture could actually be considered as something akin to a blockchain[1], but to mediate social, rather than financial, interactions, in the trustless environment of social media.

When using most major cryptocurrencies currently, transactions are verified is via proof of work, meaning third parties solve tricky and useless maths problems and thus validate transactions (it's more complicated than that, but just go with it for now). Perhaps in this analogy, you instead have proof of woke[2] (ironically closer to a proof of stake system) where signalling one's level of adherence to ideological norms, or negative behaviours, are "transactions" validated by people who are perceived have a certain level of investment in the system. If enough of them agree, a consensus is generated and then that is added to an immutable never-changing list that will be around for as long as people are encoding the blocks—people are adjudged moral, or cancelled, or what-have-you.

To be clear: I think all this is a bad thing, but thinking of it this way it becomes... if not a rational, then an understandable outgrowth of the way that social media works. My prescription, as ever: communities, in person or on out-of-the-public-eye spaces like Discord. I think it's important that you be able to test the boundaries of your speech and beliefs, but not in a space where you're subject to judgement by a bunch of internet randoms but with people you know and trust who will be able to engage with you in good faith and call you out if they think you really are going in the wrong direction.

  1. but, like, in the twitter sense of blocking. needs work, revise this. ↩︎

  2. no I didn't come up with the pun first, but I can see why you would think that. ↩︎