OPINION: An Instagram story is only the start of your activism


Photo illustration by Eliana Rosen

Instead of enacting real change, people turn to Instagram for their performative activism.

Instagram was created as a platform for quick glimpses into lives, strives for large follower counts and instant communication between friends; it’s quickly becoming a place for political discourse. As controversial events occur, from government decisions to simple celebrity mistakes, the same infographics seem to circulate across everyone’s Instagram stories. While they can bring much-needed awareness, at some point they become added noise that falls into the void of performative activism. 

A societal urge and a guilty conscience cause both teenagers and adults to repost infographic after infographic to their Instagram stories. The simple click of a button feels like a box checked into doing your part to end the racism, sexism or homophobia that the post brings awareness to. 

The idea that whether or not you repost shows whether or not you care also pushes forward a harmful idea that pressures everyone into contributing to the bare minimum of activism. It can feel like you have to post and share every time something comes up in order to “prove” your beliefs and values, and to show your followers-most of whom probably don’t care in the first place- that you are a good person. This makes activism seem like a chore, something to check off on an endless running to-do list, and in reality, a post only proves you have given in to the peer pressure of performative activism. 

Of course bringing awareness to these issues is helpful. Without social media, it would be impossible for most groups to gain traction and make real change. It is important that our picture-perfect feeds are broken up by harsh looks into our reality. But it becomes dangerous when people stop there, when they assume that they are done with their activism because their Instagram story makes it look like they are. 

Instead, it is important to take action, to get involved in any way that you can. Reach out to organizations that are doing the work you want to participate in, educate yourself and others on the real issues and get involved within your community. Go beyond the repost.