Performative Activism

What does Performative Activism mean?

Supporting a cause just to look good socially

Performative activism is about being part of a social cause, not because you truly support it, but because you want attention. It gained popularity in 2020 during the George Floyd protests, where many celebrities were said to be joining just to gain more followers, rather than out of real concern for the cause.

This kind of false activism is often seen online, on social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. Performative activists are known for posting messages in support of a cause, but they don’t do anything concrete to back it up, like donate money or join a real-life protest.

Performative activism is an act, a show put on to appear socially conscious or “woke” to followers or the public. For instance, in 2020, a known celebrity posted several black squares on her Instagram account in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM), making sure her “activism” kept up with her account’s aesthetic.

The term is similar to slacktivism, a blend of “slacker” and “activism”. It describes people who want to appear as activists but aren’t willing to put in the work. Such people might also be referred to as “posers”.

Example for using ‘Performative Activism’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see that influencer’s post about climate change?

Yeah, I did. But honestly, I think it’s just performative activism.

What do you mean?

Well, it seems like they’re only posting about it to look good, but they’re not actually doing anything to help the cause.