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Commentary: Sharing isn’t always caring

By encouraging interactions that go beyond a single click, we get to foster a society that keeps its eyes open to injustice.

Are we really pressing out of sincerity or are we just getting rid of our guilt?

An amen, a black square, and now a share button—the ladder to validation and involvement within the social space has transformed tremendously throughout the years. Undeniably, human society is becoming more and more enclosed within digital realms and screens.

Instagram users most likely are aware of the ongoing trend of tagging and sharing chain-like messages through Instagram stories “confirming” whether we “truly care” about societal matters that we may be experiencing. It will ask one to share their concern regarding a particular issue at gunpoint, emphasizing those who don’t bother to react. While it does put the issue to light, its purpose is questionable. This trend, regardless of what it truly is for, should be the wake-up call for society to assess where we must draw the line between what is productive and what is just performative.

A conversational roadblock

Performative activism, like an empty can, is noisy yet insubstantial. While it paints itself in good light, performative activist movements usually are unproductive because change is not effectively pursued, or at times, not pursued at all. Instead of being that spark to converse, these movements become the roadblock.

The current share-or-be-deemed-apolitical trend on Instagram makes standing up for a cause compulsory when it should occur upon waking up to the realities of a certain issue. This trend cuts off one’s learning process about a matter, making it seem that one’s stance is rooted in societal pressure and not from the realization of what is happening. We all can share an Instagram story on a pressing matter, but the real question lies on what happens after. After the click, where will we be?

Unfortunately, tons of problems under various performative trends still exist within our society most likely because a lot are still ignorant of the problems in their entirety. Standing up for causes is more complicated than just providing a single click. This is how many performative activist movements are neither productive nor informative; they tend to be just redundant, and to a point, irritating.

And it’s truly irritating and dangerous to reduce a topic of high importance to some trend where people are guilt-tripped to conform. Struggles and traumas aren’t talked about comprehensively because the spotlight is given to the so-called movement and not to its supposed intent. It also is irritating how concern gets equated to a single deed that in reality does not contribute much to the matter at hand. It would be as if the posts were only used to prove that one is “concerned” instead of proving that the problems still persist within the society. We are no longer foreign to these posts, but we still are foreign to the problems these supposedly address. This is enough proof to say that we have not been moving forward regardless of how fast the share counts rise. The use of social media in activism could have been our chance to raise awareness within the virtual space, but instead, we chose to do meaningless attendance checks.

Beyond a button

If we want to solidify our intentions, we must realize that we need to go beyond our pettiness and reorient our activism effectively. Spreading words used for oblivious acts can only do much. Now that most of us are familiar with these topics, their constant reiteration gives no progress to what we are fighting for. We have long put the topic to light; it is time that we actually expound on it and take action especially as capable individuals.

We need to put digestible information out and convince people how the issues affect our society. We also need to create campaigns that are empowering and informative, not imposing. By encouraging interactions that go beyond a single click, we get to foster a society that keeps its eyes open to injustice.

Performative activist trends are reflections of how we just create noise and hold people accountable for not joining in. This limits the definition of concern within the virtual sphere. To every on-screen eye, one’s goodness is measured by the amount of documentation, and the lack thereof means one is “apolitical”.  While sincere activists within our virtual spaces still exist, a lot of people are forced to join the propaganda just to prevent being canceled by a society glued to social media.

Our journey toward fighting for numerous causes still has a long way to go. If we continue our current ways of social media activism, everything would just center around conformity and not genuinity. It is time for us to realize that we could only truly stand up to a cause once we acknowledge that we are not captives of a guilt-tripping button but are individuals capable of speaking voluntarily, sincerely, and substantially.

By Carl Joshua Mamuri

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