On June 2, 2020, 14.6 million people uploaded a single black square to their social media feed in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. This extensive online crusade swarmed the nation by storm after protests in the summer of 2020 and established the framework for the upcoming social media activist movement that still dominates our pages today.
However, beyond the sea of black lies a prominent underlying issue that we as a generation have faced today: performative activism. While the messages of spreading awareness have good intentions, acts such as Blackout Tuesday drown out the voices of those affected in a mass effort of solidarity.
Performative activism, additionally known as “slacktivism,” is best defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media … often involving very little effort or commitment.” It’s the very epitome of a popular saying: “Fake it til you make it.” But in this case, what you’re faking is the support for social justice movements that affect the livelihoods of millions across the nation.
So how can we as educated individuals differentiate between performance and being genuine? Here is where the Golden Rule comes in. While authenticity is not one of the four pillars of the Golden Rule, it most definitely is implied. Honesty and kindness together are the ingredients needed for being a supportive and true activist on social media. Without fighting for what we really believe in, while also acknowledging other points of view, we are neither being honest to ourselves nor to others. These youth demonstrate how our generation should really stand up for what they believe in, by being true ambassadors of the Golden Rule.
But the Golden Rule doesn’t only help
The first step is to acknowledge that you were a part of the problem and then see what you can do from there.
You become a better activist, it also serves as a guiding method for the next steps you can take to elevate your presence online AND offline.
The first step is to acknowledge that you were a part of the problem
The second is to educate yourself instead of depending on the people around you. Even if you are not in a position to donate or protest, you can still learn how to utilize your privilege and be thoughtful about moments when you may inadvertently speak over the group you mean to support. Maintaining a sense of civility within your conversations with others who might not share the same opinions as you is key in bridging cultural divisions.
And third, use your online platform to instead share fundraisers for the families of victims, email templates to send to your local representatives and links to bail funds such as the Minneapolis Freedom Fund, which has currently raised over $20 million. All of this may take some time out of your day, but the Golden Rule teaches us that genuine progress comes with genuine effort.
Tune into our segment about online activism on April 27 at 8 a.m. on AZTV Channel 7 or watch it on the AGREE Golden Rule website (azGolden-Rule.org) under LiveGolden.
Anusha Rahman is the publicist for LiveGoldenAZ! She is currently a student at Hamilton High School.
Anusha Rahman Special to Arizona Republic