COLUMN: PERFORMATIVE ACTIVISM HAS GOT TO GO

LAUREN WISDOM, TRUMPET SPORTS EDITOR

If you have been staying up to date with current events, you may have seen your favorite celebrities use their platforms to persuade fans to help change the world through signing petitions or participating in peaceful protests. 

However, I have noticed a problem with popular social media users reaching out to their fans to help. Although it is great to provide helpful resources for people who wish to help but are unaware of how to do so, it would be nice if these “famous” people would practice what they preach. 

These popular social media users are using their platforms for “performative activism.” Performative activism is when users are putting on a show, such as telling their fans to help the world in various ways, because they feel obligated to due to the platform they have, according to the ideas from Petiri Ira on medium.com. If these popular social media users do not speak out on an important issue going on in our world or address a negative rumor that came out about them in the news, they get verbally attacked and lose some of their fans in the process. 

I am on social media quite often and I want to pursue a career in social media for a professional baseball team. On my social media accounts, I follow celebrities and people who went viral on TikTok because that seems to help me stay in touch with pop culture. Whenever I see an informational post by a popular user that I follow, I tend to look at the comments to see what other people around the world have to say. Sometimes, I think that the comments are more entertaining than the original post. 

For example, in summer 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was in full effect as there were hundreds of protests across the United States after the death of George Floyd while in police custody. (Police involved are facing charges.) Social media influencers like Charli D’Amelio had posted about the Black Lives Matter movement on her social media accounts to educate her fans on how they can help. D’Amelio, a famous TikToker with over 108 million followers shared a document that includes petitions to sign, funds to donate to, resources for education on racism and anti-racism, as well as numbers to text or call in honor of justice for Floyd and other Black lives lost, according to CNN. However, never once was she photographed  participating in rallies or protests like other famous individuals like Madison Beer, Halsey and Harry Styles.  

Not that paparazzi images prove a whole lot. Some me people who have posted about but also participated in the protests may have chosen to keep their experiences private. Although I find it odd that a person with a social media platform would not want to share what they have gained from attending such events. Sharing these experiences can inform others.

Another hypocritical moment that appeared on social media was when famous TikToker D’Amelio, preached to her fans on her Instagram Live to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. In the video, she said, “If you’re using this time to hang out with your friends since you don’t have school, please, I’m asking you, please stop being so inconsiderate to others.” Later, paparazzi images surfaced the internet of Charli, her sister, Dixie D’Amelio, and their other friends who are also famous TikTokers, vacationing in the Bahamas around Christmas 2020.   

This is why I am against performative activism. Influencers are just barely getting their feet wet by telling their followers what they should do when something important regarding national or world news comes out, but then they do not act upon their words. I feel as though people are more willing to listen to those they look up to if their idols are taking their own advice.  

When we use social media for activism, we cannot use performative activism. We must use social media in a way that seeks to help , but we must also get ourselves involved in changing the world for the better to show that we genuinely care about today’s problems. 

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