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Article: Performative Activism #voicesforchange

Graphic by Fatima Al-Jayashi

Performative Activism #voicesforchange

As a member of a younger generation, I would describe growing up in a world of politics as messy, emotional, and change-inducing at best. It’s a mosaic of different ideas that come together and are inevitably shoved down our throats. I also know that social media has a massive influence on our lives and the things around us, and politics is no exception to this. Though it is very easy to scroll past things without giving it a second thought, so much information can be spread through a few simple clicks. In many ways, this is great. Anyone anywhere can be informed about current events and become a part of the solution. Even if all you’re doing is reposting a petition on your story, you are fighting for what you believe is right, and that’s activism. Unfortunately, I can’t help but notice when someone takes part in performative activism. 

While regular activism means fighting for a certain cause, performative activism is to increase one’s social status. I see this a lot with Instagram posts that are usually along the lines of “Repost if you’re against r*pe, If you skip I lose all respect for you” or “Repost if you’re in support of Ukraine.” It’s easy to repost these, as to many they seem harmless. However, these kinds of posts can have a much more negative impact. 

These kinds of posts don’t share factual information regarding the topics at hand. If you want to support a specific cause, saying that you are in support or against someone is the bare minimum. They’re useless when it comes to helping out, yet many people still see no harm in reposing these.  If you ask me, it sometimes even makes a serious issue look silly. 

Making people feel guilty for not wanting to repost something only adds to the problem. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that I was a bad person for not reposting one of their useless chainmail posts, I’d be rich. The problem is that you are using guilt with phrases like ‘I’ll lose all respect for you’ or ‘I can see who skips’ in order to coerce people into reposting. You’d be surprised with the amount of people that only repost these because they don’t want to have a bad image online. But it’s harmful, and more harm won’t solve anything. 

I am in no way saying that all those who repost these are doing it solely for clout. Especially among my generation, most just happen to be uninformed when it comes to performative activism. However, though it pains me to say it, there are people who see these issues as opportunities to gain clout or an online presence. Even if there wasn’t any negative  intent behind it, constantly reposting this normalizes the behavior, which further enables people to use it for their own personal gain. 


Written by Madison Lagman (Guest Author)

Graphic by Fatima Al-Jayashi

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