Performative Activism is a Threat to Modern Social Justice


Gabriel Mendez

Abortion rights activists protest in San Jose, CA

Performative activism demeans and harms the values of socio-political movements and organizations for change.

At its core, modern performative activism is when someone pretends to support a social cause because of its trend value on social media platforms.

The public nature of going to a protest just to take a photo feels preachy and unnecessary, especially when it’s so often posted by those most privileged.

The promotion of the individual on platforms like TikTok and Instagram specifically cater to the modern-day influencer turned social justice warrior’s needs of public activism, self-promotion, and sponsored advertising.

When those with privilege utilize social media for self-promotion and public performances of their wokeness rather than actually spreading public awareness of social development, they are being both lazy and counterproductive.

The mediums are now so oversaturated with shallow and superfluous content that the promotion of causes for critical global issues, like the posting of black squares during the Black Lives Matter movement, can not only be pointless but can also harm the cause itself.

The millions of black squares posted during the “Black Out Tuesday” movement actually made it harder for people on these social platforms to access information related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

By using the “BLM” hashtag, the attention was detracted away from the organization to a bunch of sole black squares.

Not to mention that many of the people who were posting black squares weren’t linking any resources, information related to police brutality, or other causes that support the black community.

With the upcoming midterm elections this fall on the horizon, social media influence and performative activism will also be on the rise.

It is important that all people are aware of their online presence, ensuring that their posts for activism and social progress actually increase awareness rather than overshadow the actual cause.

After all, what is the purpose of performative activism? Is it to promote awareness of causes important to you? Or is it to let everyone know you’re not that racist on the gram?