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Zeitgeist

Document Type

Article

Abstract

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice movements, the idea of “performative activism” has also become prominent. Performative activism is defined as “activism that is done to increase one’s social capital rather than because of one’s devotion to a cause” (1). It’s characterized as a substitute for “real” action and thus has a negative connotation. One example is Blackout Tuesday in 2020 where millions of Instagram users, from everyday teens to world-famous celebrities, posted a black square to “show solidarity” for the Black Lives Matter movement. Although this was popular in the moment, actions like this became known as “slacktivism,” which is digital activism through liking, retweeting, and or posting social media posts online, and later received much criticism. This is understandable — it’s reasonable to feel frustrated when people post one graphic to show support for a movement and then pat themselves on the back for doing such important work. However, I argue that performative activism has a real, important value. It is not just a cop-out.

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