Performative activism isn’t enough to make a change

"Just signing a petition and moving on is not enough." | Ruth Santana, PantherNOW

Ruth Santana | Staff Writer

Injustices aren’t a trend and they shouldn’t be treated as one. Though all activism is important, the main goal is to create change and depending on social media to make that change isn’t enough.

We’ve all seen Instagram and X posts from celebrities, politicians and even our friends about social injustices and the need for change.

But what is actively being done to create that change?

Performative activism or “slacktivism”, is when one supports a cause just to look good socially instead of genuine commitment. 

Corporations have been capitalizing on social movements or stances for decades, especially during Pride Month. 

From Walmart, AT&T to Comcast, they have publicly supported the LGBTQ+ community while actively funding bills and politicians that oppose the community— it’s “rainbow capitalism” at its finest.

Likewise, politicians and celebrities will use social issues to boost their likability, increase their audience and keep themselves relevant while doing nothing to help.

Our own Governor Ron Desantis is a prime example. Using social media to promote his stance on the conservation and protection of Florida’s wildlife, while at the same time passing bills that ignore the climate crisis and distancing Florida from renewable energy sources. 

I’m disappointed to see DeSantis use his social media to create an image that is the opposite of the bills he passes or advocates for. It’s also incredibly misleading. 

The recent weather and ocean warming caused by the climate crisis will destroy Florida’s valuable ecosystem, which DeSantis is supposedly fighting so “hard” to protect.

Though performative activism does a great job of spreading the message and creating a dialogue, these social issues are being treated like trends.

We will focus on issues for a short time and then move on, forgetting those who genuinely need help.

This makes social media a problem, not a solution. 

When I’m on Instagram the same statistics and slogans would be reposted on stories which raises awareness. At the beginning of a movement I would see some information for protests and demonstrations, but then it fizzles out after a week.

This was seen during the BLM protests and even now with the Palestinian survivors stuck in Rafa. 

Though the BLM protests did cause some change there is a significant lack of reform. As of 2024, police have killed 545 people and Black people are still three times more likely to be killed at the hands of officers. 

Police accountability policies and new training exercises to better handle tense situations still haven’t been implemented. 

And from recent news, peaceful protests are still being met with militarized police forces, so where is the change?

To get real change continuous pressure needs to be put on those who are in power and have influence.  

Just signing a petition and moving on is not enough.

I understand that it can be disheartening to see the same atrocities being committed over and over again without any real change happening. But to just let an issue fizzle out is not the road to change.| 

Walk-outs, sit-ins, peaceful protests, writing to politicians, voting, boycotting, volunteering, donating and advocating are all non-violent ways to spark change.

The fight to change is a long arduous path, but it’s worth it if it means more liberties and freedoms bestowed to marginalized and oppressed groups. 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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