An Observance of Performative Activism

Bridget Levesque, Features Editor

Upon opening Instagram, you notice your feed is bombarded with various graphics with catchy slogans. As you click through, and see the same photos over and over again. They are all screaming the same political messages to you, but they don’t venture much deeper than that. It’s almost like an echo chamber. 

This year has proven to be a difficult one, as the world is dealing with a pandemic, racial injustice, the upcoming presidential election and much more. Americans grieve the deaths of numerous black lives, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Many people are crowding into the streets, lifting their fists into the air to demand justice due to the brutality police officers have unleashed upon them. Many protestors call for the defunding of police stations, and some even go so far as to suggest dismantling the force entirely. Naturally, these events have caused a lot of discourse over social media, creating a large schism between people who believe that black lives matter, and those who come up with the rebuttal that all lives matter. I would like to preface this piece by saying that black lives matter. 

My issue is how empty the support feels at times. I believe people have good intentions when they decide to repost a photo they see that demands action for the injustices that have occurred in recent months. When you constantly see the same rhetoric however, it makes me wonder, “Is that it?” Do we truly care about the causes we’re posting about, or is it to  preserve our self-images and show others that we care? Is it a façade? One example that sticks out in my mind is the “#BlackoutTuesday” trend, where many Instagrammers posted a picture of a black square with that hashtag, or an accompanying “#BlackLivesMatter” tag. While I believe it was a nice sentiment, it also felt like people felt their duty was done; they had participated because their peers did, so their support ended there. I also viewed a post that said words to the effect of, “Did you summer fling with activism end?” 

In order to go beyond appearances, I believe that we should be doing our best to educate ourselves, educate others, and take action. This entails participating in political gatherings, protests, and contacting local representatives. This can start with posting and reposting political messages you agree with; it just cannot end there.