In recent years, social media has played a huge role in furthering political movements. We’ve all seen the hashtags—#MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, #TakeAKnee.
But in most cases, these displays of activism are entirely performative. Would celebrities post about these issues without the push from their PR teams or fandoms? Probably not.
Not only are these social media movements performative, they don’t help the causes much. Yes, it’s good to spread awareness. But at some point, actual work needs to be done.
To protest racism and police brutality, people created #BlackoutTuesday last summer. On Blackout Tuesday, non-Black supporters of BLM posted black squares to Instagram. Then, they were not supposed to post for the rest of the day. The idea was to amplify Black voices.
In reality, it gave white people an easy out. Post a black square so you won’t be seen as racist. Then, you don’t have to do any real work to support the movement.
After the Atlanta spa shooting that left eight Asian Americans dead, people attempted to create a movement similar to BLM and Blackout Tuesday—#YellowLivesMatter. Supporters of the movement were to post yellow squares to bring awareness to the rise in Asian American hate crimes.
Yellow Lives Matter didn’t take off like BLM did. A yellow square used to represent the skin of Asian Americans did not sit well with people. And although I agree it’s an issue, it’s not the one that stands out to me. Once again, people could participate in YLM without doing anything to better the situation.
These social media movements are activism without the action. People in the U.S. are aware of sexism, racism and police brutality. Now, something needs to be done.
Instead of taking the easy way out with meaningless squares on Instagram or retweeting links to information you didn’t even read yourself, take direct action.
Donate to families who have been ripped apart by police brutality. Sign petitions to enact change in your community. Call or email local politicians to let them know which issues you care about. Join an organization that supports movements you’re interested in. Participate in protests and if there isn’t one to participate in, create one yourself.
It’s easy to not hold yourself accountable with social media movements. But these are real issues that involve real people who need real help. So, we need to make real change.