I’ve written on here in the past about companies who use a green facade to try and persuade prospective customers that they are doing everything they can for the planet, creating a PR front to make themselves look good – but it works on a personal level too.
Performative activism is when a person refers to activism to increase their social view, rather than it being the actual devotion to the cause. Case in point, take the recent rise of movement in the Black Lives Matter movement – more specifically, the black square that people were posting on their social media pages. Now, hands up, I posted a black square on my Instagram – so I am not in any way trying to discredit that.
The point of Blackout Tuesday was to focus on highlighting black voices and help spread awareness of the movement – by not participating in sharing stories or resources to help, you’ve not fully participated in activism and instead it looks performative. My problem is not with people who posted the black square, but with people who thought that was enough. Social media is a great place to spread resources and voices, and I believe that people should be taking advantage of that – we all have a lot to learn off each other.
Performative activism leads to a lot of debate and discussion – on the one hand, it helps to boost a certain movement and encourages people to be active quietly and donate at home, but it also encourages people to treat activism as a trend and to not use their voice or resources effectively. It can come across as trivializing a big issue and treating it as the #postoftheday. This is what makes the hashtag and rise in movement fall down quickly, because people fleetingly support a movement without having real devotion to the cause – most likely, because it makes them look good.
Some people support activism in a variety of different ways, some people do it silently and others showcase what they’ve been doing on social media. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t showcase it on social media if you haven’t been doing the leg work as well.
All views expressed are my own, and if you think that I’m missing something or you disagree – I’m here to learn!