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What is ‘Wokefishing’? How to Spot the Signs

Love or lies?

When first getting to know someone, it can be difficult to know if they're being honest, or if they're wokefishing.
Source: Shutterstock

Have you ever gone on a first date and thought, “This person seems too good to be true?” You may be surprised, or you may be dealing with a wokefisher.

In the world of modern dating, a new phenomenon has emerged—wokefishing. It’s a deceptive practice where individuals pretend to hold progressive beliefs and values to attract romantic partners. But what happens when love collides with lies? And does wokefishing only appear when romantic intentions are present? Let’s take a look at the concept of wokefishing, explore its impact on relationships, and think about the role it plays outside of the dating world.

What is Wokefishing?

Wokefishing is the act of presenting oneself as more socially conscious or politically aware than one truly is. It involves misrepresenting beliefs, values, and activism involvement to attract attention or potential partners. While genuine care for social issues can be impressive, wokefishing undermines trust and creates a false foundation for a relationship. The motivations behind wokefishing can vary, from seeking validation to simply wanting to appear more appealing in a romantic sense, to monetary gain and clout-chasing in the case of social media influencers.

Recognizing Wokefishing Signs

Spotting a wokefisher requires a keen eye and careful observation. Look out for inconsistencies between words and actions. If someone claims to be an advocate for a cause, but their behavior doesn’t align with their supposed beliefs, it might be a red flag. Other signs include sudden changes in political views, exploiting social justice buzzwords without understanding their true meaning, or over-the-top lip service to certain causes. A wokefisher is likely to let their conversation partner start the discussion, tailoring their responses and opinions to that of the other person. If you think you’re dealing with a wokefisher, listen to your gut and follow your intuition. Catching wokefishers is easy once you spot them. It’s the spotting itself that proves difficult.

The Emotional Toll

Wokefishing is not a victimless crime. Those impacted often feel betrayal, heartbreak, and a lack of trust (Source: Pixabay)

Falling victim to wokefishing takes a toll on one’s emotional well-being. The realization that a partner has been deceitful about their core tenets can evoke feelings of betrayal, disappointment, and confusion. It undermines trust and can lead to questioning one’s own judgment. The emotional aftermath of wokefishing might linger, potentially impacting future relationships, producing cynicism, and making it difficult to trust when dating.

Navigating Wokefishing

To navigate the murky waters of wokefishing, you have to be proactive. Speak and communicate openly with your partner, especially about values, beliefs, and issues close to your heart. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations early on to ensure compatibility and shared values. Set clear boundaries and express your expectations regarding honesty and authenticity. Trust your instincts, and don’t dismiss any warning signs or gut feelings.

Building Authentic Connections

Falling in love is a beautiful thing, and it’s much easier without wokefishing. (Source: PickPik)

Instead of chasing the illusion of a wokefishing partner, try focusing on building genuine connections. Authenticity and shared values are the pillars of a healthy relationship. Prioritize honest and open communication, where both partners can express their true selves without fear of judgment. While some opinions may be deal breakers, many others are likely not. It may be wise to share what is most important to you, and learn together where there’s room for disagreement. Seek out individuals who demonstrate consistent actions and a genuine commitment to social issues. We build healthy relationships on mutual respect, trust, and integrity.

Wokefishing and Parasocial Relationships

How do we deal with wokefishing, however, when the connections are parasocial in nature? 

Parasocial relationships, simply, are one-sided relationships where one party extends time, interest, and energy, and the other party doesn’t know they exist. Though we see this most often with online celebrities, influencers, and podcast stars, the term was first coined in the 1950’s, when people began getting attached to radio hosts and news anchors.

With the omnipresence of social media and the ever-rising amount of parasocial relationships, it’s no wonder that wokefishing is being used not only for romantic pursuits, but monetary gain as well. Over the past several years, many celebrities and influencers have built platforms around the idea of inclusivity and “wokeness,” and are later found to be significantly less progressive than previously thought. Whether it’s celebrities tweeting with offensive language and slurs, or convoluted TikTok drama difficult to wrap your head around, wokefishing adds a layer to the shock, betrayal, and intrigue we feel when our favorite stars fail us.

To Conclude…

Relationships should be based on honesty, trust, and authenticity. Wokefishing, with its deceptive nature, undermines the very foundation of a healthy relationship. Parasocial relationships, which are inherently unhealthy, worsen further with the presence of wokefishing. Though a perfect world would see this behavior die out completely, it’s up to everyone to watch for signs of wokefishing and adapt accordingly.

Written By

M. Risley is a flash fiction writer and University of Colorado graduate. When not writing for Trill Mag or submitting creative works to journals, they can be found crocheting, playing tabletop RPGs, or tenderly holding their cat, Beetle.

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