“How to Navigate Racist Conversations This Holiday Season” .“Systematic Racism, Facts and Figures”. Chances are if you are an avid instagram user you have come across such posts designed to be shared to your stories. These posts have become increasingly popular in the last nine months with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter as an accessible way to educate the masses about the struggles experienced by marginalized groups which they may not experience themselves. However, as we head into 2021 with a very few of these changes that trended accomplished, these infographics are starting to garner criticism from the black community for being more performative than effective.
In light of the killings of black men and women by police departments, celebrities that never used to talk about social justice issues are being pressured by their fans to use their platform to spread information about causes they believe to be worthy of a larger audience, leading to celebrities posting these graphics quite frequently. This level of engagement may have appeased the celebrities general fanbase, but some were left wondering why these multi millionaires were reposting the same infographic everyone else had without donating a small portion of their large fortune to the causes they claimed to support.
This way of posting about causes without changing much of your day to day life to make yourself appear “woke” is referred to as performative activism. These infographics are popular with teenagers and young adults, the majority of whom are not yet old enough to influence change around them. There has been a trend of “woke-shaming” in which people shame or scold those who do not do enough for the cause, calling them “performative activists”. So teens increase the amount of activism posts on their story to stay on the trend. This sense of obligation increases the volume of posts being reposted, but decreases the amount of people that read the posts and gain the knowledge they are trying to spread.
If these graphics actually reach their target audience, they may encourage people to speak up to their family members, their friends and even their elected officials, which is likely to inspire change. The more educated the world is, the more tolerant and peaceful our society will become. Many wars have been started by a misguided populus that was taught to hate something from a young age due to false narratives that have been spoken into truth. Instagram has begun to fact check political posts, tagging ones that have been reported as false by a majority of third party fact checkers with a banner that reads “See why fact checkers may think this is false”. Hopefully this approach will reduce the amount of misinformation out there and encourage users to learn to be critical of the information that is being presented to them, and do their own research before reaching a conclusion