Not all activism is effective

Although spreading awareness across Instagram is effective, some of it may come off as performative which defeats the original intention of uplifting other communities' voices.

Getty Images

Although spreading awareness across Instagram is effective, some of it may come off as performative which defeats the original intention of uplifting other communities’ voices.

Carol Rodriguez, Website Editor

There are alarming issues all over the world, from police brutality in America to concentration camps in China, and we’ve got a strong generation to come up with solutions. However, we must ask ourselves, are we approaching these issues in the correct manner?

Posting infographics on one’s Instagram story has become a common trend among many Instagram users. These posts can be harmless, unless there’s misleading information of course, but infographics generally allow people to be more informed on how to help these social issues.

These infographics get thousands of reposts, but are we doing enough? At some point, the names of the people who got wrongfully murdered become a trend. That’s when these posts become performative and their initial message, which is to inform others, gets lost. It’s off-putting to see these informative texts being shared only when the issue is trending but ignored when the issue becomes a daily issue.

These posts have even gotten to the point of guilt-tripping, which ruins the purpose of raising awareness. For instance, sometimes a post will have a caption that says if the viewer doesn’t repost, then they don’t care. It’s understandable that giving a voice to these matters is necessary, but guilt-tripping people isn’t the proper way to do it. 

There are also cases where these matters become a chain thread where users tag five people on their stories regarding a social issue and the five people tagged must reshare. These chain threads reduce racism and other issues to a simple “Tag Your Friends” Challenge, which shows how little thought the Instagram users put into activism.

Activism has also been reduced to an aesthetic. For instance, Sanrio characters have been becoming more popular, which isn’t surprising. Hello Kitty and My Melody are adorable characters that easily make their way into people’s posts. However, pictures of Hello Kitty should not be plastered all over a Black Lives Matter post. 

Why does something need to be cute in order for people to care? Black Lives Matter was created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, three Black organizers, in order to affirm the lives of Black people. The movement was created because of the anti-blackness in our country. Sanrio characters, on the other hand, are there to focus on the Kawaii (cute) Japanese culture. The two should not be mixed in order to produce a cute aesthetic when the BLM movement is nothing but cute — it’s a call for help to help Black lives.

Instead of paying attention to these posts, people’s attention should be directed towards uplifting Black voices and supporting them. 

After George Floyd’s murder, the nation reacted with pain, exhaustion and anger. As a result, a #blackouttuesday hashtag was created, and, surprisingly, it even got more posts than #blacklivesmatter, which is where the problem lies: a black screen that takes the user less than a minute to post is deemed as activism. 

With thousands of petitions arising to help the Black community, more should have been done. If one is going to post a black square, then they should include how to help the Black Lives Matter movement in order for it to be useful. Anyone can post a black square; even those who are racists can post it and just call it a day, which is why it’s important to do more than the bare minimum.

George Floyd’s name, along with Breonna Taylor’s, should never be a trend. It’s traumatizing for a community to see so many deaths of their people, and for their names to be merely seen as a hashtag is dehumanizing. These victims are actual people with families who are mourning. They shouldn’t be used for others to make themselves look good. 

Every time there’s a police brutality incident, a video of the victim blows up. In most cases, the victim has been beaten or shot to death, and instantly there are thousands of shares. As a result, Instagram users are reposting those videos onto their stories, thinking that they’re raising awareness to police violence.

While it’s important to be aware of this rising issue, it’s more important to remember that these victims are human beings. It’s not normal to spread videos of dead people, or it shouldn’t be at least. If these videos continue to go viral, people will become desensitized to it and it will become the norm. The final moments of the deceased are traumatizing to not only their family members but to anyone who is directly and indirectly affected by the murder. 

People have also been trying to profit off of people who are murdered due to racism and discrimination. People have been selling shirts with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with many other victims. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are human beings. They shouldn’t be merchandise and treating them as such causes more harm than good. Using the victims for profit allows the main focus to be lost and people end up buying it to seem noble. 

Although it seems like these people who are spreading awareness are benefiting many communities, performative activism can get nothing done if it’s just for one’s ego. Activism is vital, especially in today’s climate, but it should be done with the right intentions, not just for the sake of views and likes.