Performative Activism

August 16, 2022

This is definitely a generation for change. With the advancement of technology and our strength to come together and speak out against social issues, we have been seeing young people take action against adults with higher authority and it seems to give Generation Z and Millennials a promising hope for the future. 

     While social media has the power to bring thousands together to confront current issues, overall, a large group of social users have done more harm than good battling these topics.

     It’s important that the young people in charge of our future are aware of social issues going on in the country and more importantly, are willing to make a change for these issues, but at what point does this activism become almost pointless?

     It feels as if spreading awareness of these major issues going on in America has become an aesthetic amongst teens. With the quirky and colorful “ACAB” Instagram stories and the decorative ‘Black Lives Matter’ profile pictures and bio captions, this type of awareness becomes quite performative when you continue to support and be friends with those against the issues you’re fighting against, or when you yourself are committing actions that you are preaching against.

     Of course,  it’s not wrong to be friends with those who have different political views than you, but I believe the line gets drawn when it comes to social justice. Anyone can preach all day about how they’re against the blatant discrimination going on in the country and how they want to fight against it, but, of course, actions speak louder than words.

     Aside from modern day “activists” just using these big organizations as a quirky aesthetic to build their brand, I’ve noticed on the other end of the spectrum, how this type of performance can be overdramatized and be taken entirely too far. This behavior completely sets the movement back on what it’s trying to fight for or against. 

     Cancel culture has been a trending topic of discussion in recent years, and though some good can come from it, it seems like you can be canceled for quite literally everything nowadays. 

     I’ve seen young social users quite literally attack people for wrapping their hair with scarves and bonnets before bed. These types of obnoxious outbursts from users have been more frequently seen on the popular app TikTok. I have seen so many women post videos, following their nighttime routine, or even just talking to the camera before bed. God forbid a woman who isn’t black wears a bonnet to sleep. Bonnets are essentially caps worn to bed, to protect against friction damage on hair, and women of all races have been wearing them for decades. It’s crazy to see the malicious and mean comments under these videos about cultural appropriation, and most of the time, these commenters aren’t even black. 

     To make matters worse, I’ve seen an even more concerning amount of women being completely bombarded with outrageous “cultural appropriation” comments about their natural, physical appearance. 

     People seem to not understand that a race of people comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. If you come across any girl with “almond” shaped eyes who is not of Asian descent (especially for Latina and black women), you will most likely find comments on how she is pretending to be Asian, or more commonly written out as “Asian-fishing,” and like the whole bonnet situation these comments aren’t typically from Asian people. 

     It’s amazing to see such a large group of young people who want to willingly put forth their time and effort to make a change in the world, but it becomes extremely difficult to progress when there is also a big group of those who don’t care at all or are just blatantly petty towards the situation(s). If you don’t want to support these causes, then don’t, and if you do, do things that are actually useful to the cause. This performative activist aesthetic has just seemed to push this long-fought social justice movement back, all for an extra like or a follow and it’s gotten in the way of those who are actually looking to help their communities out. 

 

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