A Dangerous Trend
Our generation (Gen Z) has woken up and are now fighting for a world that is currently on fire. At the bottom of this blog there will be links to easy ways you can educate yourself about the issues that need your attention today.
The purpose for this blog is to start meaningful conversation between young people in an easy to read and relatable way. That being said, we will be digging into what we now call “performative activism”. I am talking about performative activism in a broader way because I believe that it is a ripple effect into all of the movements and causes that our generation is diving into. This is obviously something that has always existed but is unfortunately now the overwhelming norm for activism within our generation. Performative activism is often associated with “slacktivism” but is much more dangerous to the cause. Slacktivism refers to activism by means of social media and online petitions. Slacktivism is NECESSARY, at least right now when it might be the only effort people can contribute during this global pandemic. Petitions are important and can be a gateway to more activism. On the other hand, performative activism is activism done specifically to increase social capital rather than one’s devotion to the cause. Although, I wouldn't want to scare someone away from participating in activism out of fear of being performative, it really does all boil down to having the right intentions.
When our generation decided that being “woke” is cool… we were practically begging for performative activists. People who want to go through the motions of being a part of the cause without engaging in real action. We also opened ourselves up to some performative peer pressure. I don’t think that’s even a thing, but it is definitely something I have been seeing. People saying, “if you aren’t posting about BLM on your Instagram Story… F**K YOU” or even people saying “if I look on your Twitter and you haven’t retweeted this petition, I am NOT your friend”. This kind of attitude is forcing people to go through the motions of a cause specifically for social gain, fear of losing social status, or even just to avoid conversation or questions. This is not the kind of activism that is needed for the change we need, and if we are being completely honest, it makes the cause (whatever movement or cause it may be) seem to have no real substance.
Another level of this is when performative activists push their voices and their opinions onto others… as if it’s fact or educational in any way. I would be lying if I told you that I know why they do this because it truthfully baffles me. Do not preach what you do not know, just to seem "woke" or actually.. ever. It is that simple. It is okay if other people’s voices and experiences are being highlighted at the moment, it doesn’t diminish your voice or your experiences. Being “woke” is being educated and being engaged in action.
Do not expect to be praised for learning to do the bare minimum.
Social media is still a good tool if used meaningfully and responsibly. A big part of activism, especially when trying to bring about social change, is trying to change people’s hearts. Trust me, I know that is not easy. Social media is essential to get young people interested and involved in anything. A lot of young people are influenced by their parents and usually that is the extent of what they know. Social media pushes them to understand the world outside of their household and their community.
That being said, social media is inherently performative. Social media is a huge contributor to making performative activism such a trend. I am sure all of you were there for the #blackouttuesday trend. This forced people to become more aware of the impact their social media voice has, whether it is truthfully impactful, or if it is just cluttering the feed. Everyone is learning about how to properly be an ally, about how to make change, how to have impactful conversations, and how even the little things matter. The difference between a performative activist and someone who is engaged in change, is that true activists are open to learning and adapting to serve others.
In the midst of this global pandemic, social media has become one of the only healthy and safe ways to use our voices. We need to know how to use it correctly. “Doing it for the gram” is obviously not a new thing. I don’t care if you and your friends go to the beach with “taking pics for the gram” as the only intention for going, but if I catch you at a protest wearing a cute crop top and asking your friend “oh my god what should the caption be????” … then it’s actually on SIGHT.
Social media has also made it way too easy for people to be lazy about educating themselves… not all of the facts can be found on your Instagram feed, what you see people reposting, or even on TikTok. Way to often I have to listen to people regurgitate what they see on Instagram onto their Snapchat rant that for some reason they feel the need to exhaust all of their followers with just to sound “woke”. If you feel obligated to post, educate yourself first and think for a second “is this actually educational”, “is my voice going to drown out someone else's voice or knowledge”, or even “is there a more productive way that I can make change”. I promise you that if you do that you will be able to participate in more meaningful conversation and you will feel more fulfilled.
Social Media is making performative activism easier to get away with, and that is the bottom line. It has become way more inconspicuous… especially with people having to stay at home. But don't get it twisted, it is still detrimental to the cause. We can not let our message get lost in a sea of vague displays to match your instagram aesthetic.
I urge you to be on the right side of history. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Ask yourself or your friends these debatable questions to start healthy conversations:
Is performative activism inherently bad?
Is performative activism better than silence?
What is the right way to document protests?
What are some productive ways to use your voice (as an ally) and not drown out other voices such as victims, artists, informational accounts, etc. ?
What is the best way to avoid performative activism?
Follow @themovementtroupe on Instagram or Facebook for updates on us and our blog.
Read our About Page on our website.
We will be starting an online forum soon where we hope to create a safe place for meaningful conversation.
We will be announcing a GIVE AWAY. Follow our Instagram for updates on that.
Our BLM Memorial Art Exhibit is coming up later in the year and I encourage you to submit your art of any medium or even photography. Again, all info is on our Instagram.