Why I Don’t Do Social Media Activism
Trump was elected, many people were forced to come to terms with the treatment of minorities in this country. People combatted these feelings through tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook groups. For the people who already knew of the horrifying racist, homophobic, trans-phobic, and sexist undertones of the 2016 election, watching these Americans come to their senses was a very, “I told you so,” sort of moment. People began to organize, and since Trump’s election, hundreds of marches/rallies for justice for the most marginalized have taken place. With all of these events, and new realizations in American society, the internet was taken by storm through hashtags, comments, and posts about activism. For the first time in a while, it was cool to be “woke”, and t-shirts were sold, pussyhats made, and online activism took a surge in follows, likes as well as retweets.
Being “woke” has became the coolest new thing, and people have been posting, hash-tagging, and tweeting since its surge in popularity. Going to a protest for the “gram” isn’t new, but it’s how people behave offline that seems to be the culprit. Going to protests, and chanting for a cause are one thing, but what actual “activism” are you doing behind the scenes? Are you calling your representatives, or just editing your protest photos on VSCO. This is why to me social media activism, although being a very vital tool, can be very performative. I would much rather go out of my way and spend my time doing social justice work, than posting about it. When people post about their activist work, it brings light to something that isn’t usually seen in the mainstream. Although, the whole subconscious desire for people’s approval that comes with social media is still present. As people we all strive to be liked and accepted by our peers, and being “woke” since it’s now the the cool thing to be, is propelling such movement of so called “social media activists”.
Don’t get me wrong, social media has built communities, and made movements. Many people have used social media as a tool to learn about different types of social justice work, including me. That doesn’t mean though that you are “woke”. We shouldn’t participate for a tag, a like, a comment, or a hashtag, but for the calling to advocate for others. Being an activist means different things to different people, and it is a very personal definition. For me, it means tiredly advocating for others, selflessly and not paying attention to the likes, comments, and numbers. I want people to know the type of work I’m doing but I don’t strive for their approval. I use social media all the time, and maybe to some people that’s what makes me an activist. To others I may not be “woke” enough, because it's not the only thing I use social media for. I don’t only post about the work I am doing, but I don’t only post personal photos. Yes, my Instagram is curated, with what I want people to see, and that does make it performative but, I don’t lobby for the “gram” and neither should you. Make change, but don’t make it a performance for all your followers to see.