The dangers of performative activism in the social justice movement

The Dangers of Performative Activism in the Social Justice Movement


In recent years, there has been a rise in social justice activism across various parts of the world. This activism has made significant strides, fighting various forms of discrimination and oppression. However, despite the progress made, performative activism has emerged as a significant problem in the movement, leading to the dilution of its potential impact. Performative activism essentially refers to activism that is done for show, with no real understanding of the issue or commitment to bringing about positive change.

The Rise of Performative Activism

In the age of social media, where individuals curate their online personas carefully, performative activism has become more prevalent. As social justice issues become more mainstream, people jump on the bandwagon and share posts, tweets, and stories without taking any real action. It's become a case of "virtue signaling" and trying to show that one is on the "right side" without making any significant contributions.

The Dangers

Performative activism can do more harm than good, and here's why:
  • It dilutes the authenticity of the movement. When individuals engage in performative activism, the message they intend to send gets lost in the performance itself. It comes across as insincere and hollow.
  • It leads to a false sense of accomplishment. Instead of driving real change, performative activism creates a false sense of accomplishment. People feel that by sharing a post or a tweet, they have done their bit, and it's up to someone else to take it further.
  • It can divert attention from real issues. By focusing on performative activism, attention is diverted from the actual issue at hand, and the important conversations cannot be had.
  • It can create a backlash. When individuals engage in performative activism, it can cause a backlash from those who feel that real progress is not being made. This can lead to further division and hinder the movement's progress.

The Way Forward

To combat performative activism and ensure that social justice movements make real progress, there are some things we can do:
  • Educate ourselves and others. It's crucial to have a thorough understanding of the issue at hand before chipping in. Educate yourself and others to be informed and make real contributions.
  • Take meaningful action. Share posts, tweets, and stories, but also take meaningful action. Contribute to organizations, attend events or rallies, or volunteer your time and effort.
  • Hold ourselves and others accountable. Hold yourself and others accountable for the actions you take. Call out performative activism and ensure that real progress is made.


Performative activism is a roadblock to real progress in social justice movements. The focus needs to shift from performative activism to meaningful action, taking the necessary steps to drive real change. It's essential to hold ourselves and others accountable to bring about positive change in society.