Performative Activist

What does Performative Activist mean?

Someone pretending to be an activist to look good socially

A performative activist is someone who only shows support for a social cause to look good in front of others, rather than actually believing in the movement. This term became widely used in 2020 to call out people who were only pretending to support social causes, including the protests following George Floyd’s death.

Performative activists are commonly found on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They may post about being in favor of a particular issue, but they don’t take any real action to support it, like joining protests or donating money.

Often, a performative activist’s main goal is to appear as if they share the same interests as their followers. Sometimes, they post about social issues to avoid being accused of inaction. In other cases, they may simply be unaware that their posts seem insincere.

Many social media influencers have been called out as performative activists. For example, in June 2020, pop superstar Taylor Swift was criticized for taking part in photo opportunities during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest, which many people deemed as performative activism.

The term performative activist is akin to the term ‘slacktivist’, used to denote a lazy activist. Performative activists are also often compared to posers, who pretend to be something they’re not.

Example for using ‘Performative Activist’ in a conversation

Did you see that post from Sarah about supporting the climate movement?

Yeah, but I think she’s just a performative activist. She never actually does anything to help the cause.

I know, right? She just wants to look good in front of her followers.

Exactly. It’s frustrating when people only pretend to care about important issues.