What does POV, woke, BAME and gaslighting mean? A glossary of terms explained

A guide to some of the terms you’ll see all over social mediaA guide to some of the terms you’ll see all over social media
A guide to some of the terms you’ll see all over social media | Pixabay
A guide to some of the terms you’ll see all over social media

Slang enters our vocabulary as quickly as we hear it, and with it shapes the way we describe, evaluate, or even rate people and items. The word ‘woke’ for example, has become increasingly used ironically and unironically, to describe people and events. UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman even went as far as to describe the opposition as the “tofu-eating wokerati” recently.

Some of these terms have made it into Collins Dictionary as well, with words such as ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘vibe shift’ making the cut this year. Terms such as BAME have seen their popularity rise and fall, and of course, replaced just as quickly as they came. But what do all these terms mean? With this glossary, here is a list of terms you need to know.

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What does ‘BAME’ mean?

Originally standing for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic, the term is just trying to say ‘not-white’. However, the term is hit and miss, as it gives the impression it’s a us vs them situation. Not known for its inclusivity, this term is generally avoided.

What is ‘cancel culture’?

Where a person is boycotted because of their actions or opinions. Also known as ‘cancelling someone’. ‘Cancelling’ is a way for people - often marginalised groups - who have been historically silenced, to call on celebrities, businesses, and people in positions of power to be accountable for their actions and words, whether recent or in the past.

What is the meaning of ‘cis’?

The term’s modern usage began when German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch coined it in his 1991 article “Die Transsexuellen und unser nosomorpher Blick”. Cisgender means not transgender - a cisgender person’s sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.

What do you mean by ‘clicktivism’?

A trending form of ‘activism’, where political or social causes are supported via the internet, but involve little effort or commitment. This comes in forms as just liking something on Twitter, or posting black squares on Instagram (used during the 2020 #blacklivesmatter movement).

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What is ‘conscious capitalism’?

This is all about being aware of which companies you’re giving your money to - and what they do with their profits, how they treat their employees, what other companies they invest in etc. Essentially, when you buy a product from a company, do you know what they’re doing with the cash? And are you aware of the effect they’re having on the work market and the environment?

What is ‘cultural appropriation’?

Cultural appropriation is known as an exploitation of another person’s culture, religion, traditions, fashion, dance steps, language, symbols, and music and goes deeper than just doing something because you like it. It differs from acculturation, assimilation or equal cultural exchange, and is considered harmful when groups of people are working for cultural preservation and collective intellectual property rights.

Essentially, when cultural elements are removed from their originating context and become part of a fast-moving trend, it distorts the original meaning of the action, symbol or tradition - which then makes the tradition lose its original meaning.

What is ‘fast fashion’?

See Conscious Capitalism. Fast fashion is cheaply made, low-quality garments designed to be thrown away just after a few years. It’s damaging to the environment whilst creating ripples in the fashion industry on quickly fading trends leading to factories churning out toxic chemicals and producing large carbon footprints.

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What is ‘gaslighting’?

Gaslighting is when someone aims to convince someone of something obvious that isn’t true. It’s a form of psychological abuse causing someone to question their sanity or memories.

What is the meaning of ‘ghosting’?

Ghosting is when you abruptly cut off contact with someone with no warning or explanation. Even if the person who is being ghosted reaches out to re-establish contact, they’re met with silence.

What is the meaning of ‘greenwashing’?

When companies go out of their way to convince you they are more environmentally friendly than they are. Basically, it is an attempt to capitalise on the growing demand for sustainable products as part of a company’s corporate social responsibility strategy.

What is the meaning of ‘intersectionality’?

Everything is connected. The concept of intersectionality looks at the way systems of inequality - based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class etc combine to create unique dynamics and effects.

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What is the meaning of ‘POC’?

POC stands for People or Person of Colour. See BAME for more information.

What does ‘POV’ mean?

POV is Point of View, often used in social media platforms such as TikTok - it just describes the angle of a story, and often how an event or conversation is experienced by a particular person.

What does ‘woke’ mean?

The term woke stems from a 1962 New York Times Magazine article written by William Melvin Kelley, titled ‘If You’re Woke You Dig It’. The article described the appropriation of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) by white beatniks. In 2012 when the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot were imprisoned for a protest intended to shine a light on the oppression of women, American artist Erykah Badu tweeted: “Truth requires no belief. Stay woke. Watch closely. #FreePussyRiot.”

The term reached a new level of popularity when the Black Lives Matter movement used the hashtag #staywoke following the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by police in 2014. So what does it mean? Simply, you’re alert to injustice and you’ve noticed the world around you.

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