Amidst the boom of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, many people turned to the streets to protest against oppression, made public demonstrations to show their undying passion for the movement, or even put themselves in harm’s way to spread the message of the movement. Those who were too young to turn to public demonstrations (or had strict parents like me) opted to take part in an alternative: social media activism. This consisted of posting a slew of information concerning protest locations, petitions, and infographics to educate your followers about the injustices that Black people face in America. Although I vehemently participated in this practice during the Summer of 2020, I began to question: am I making a difference?
In more recent times, another wave of social media activism has arrived to fill our feeds. Due to the tragic and horrible events that are occurring between the nations of Israel and Palestine, younger people have once again turned to social media to spread resources and share their own opinions on the topic. Whether it be posting death statistics of Palestinian children or the location of protests, young people are making sure that their opinions are known.
In order to know whether this activism is performative or effective, you have to reconsider 1.) Do I support what I am posting? 2.) Is this post actually helping someone? An example of ineffective activism was the infamous Blackout Tuesday during 2020’s BLM protests. Millions of people began posting black squares in support of the BLM Movement. Looking back on Blackout Tuesday, people now realize that the trend was counterintuitive. What message was posting a blank black square sending to the public? The black square did nothing to educate the masses, and it felt like a trend instead of genuine activism.
Without doing the necessary research about the issue at hand (or even critically thinking about the meaning behind your post), any kind of activism will end up being ineffective.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University
Instagram: amaar.fz / X: @Amaar_FZ
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