The Risks of Trendy Activism in the Age of Information

Avatar Flux Air Team | August 11, 2020

The Risks of Trendy Activism in the Age of Information

Trendy activism* isn’t anything new but has definitely increased over the past few months. From posting black squares with hashtags to sharing black and white selfies, we are growing more familiar with what it means to raise awareness. However, is it a familiarity in the right direction? It’s important to consider whether or not our activism is making the impact we intend or whether it is merely adding to the noise. 

Millions of black squares congested the algorithm and hid critical voices on Blackout Tuesday. Consequently, these black squares also smothered news of a politician’s court appearance that same day. Questions arose regarding intention, which inspired many to rethink previous actions.

In my experience, this new wave of activism can be a slippery slope to navigate. I struggled as I saw an influx of black and white selfies flood my social media feeds. As I received humbling words from the women I admire, I felt a slight resistance to sharing an image with #challengeaccepted written as my caption. I wondered to myself, what important event might this be covering? How is this genuinely making a difference? I also explored how solidarity may evolve as the year continues to unfold.

After doing some research regarding the origin of this challenge, I came across three different stories, including Turkish feticide, American political sexism, and even a WhatsApp messaging thread. This uncertainty was enough to stop me in my tracks. Perhaps this is exactly what I needed.

An Active Approach Through A Mindful Lens 

As we enter the Aquarian Age, we are continuously blessed with information, access to new truths, and outlets to express our stances. The Latin phrase “Scientia potentia est” translates to “knowledge is power.” If this is true, does this mean all knowledge and power is strictly good or evil? Perhaps this roots down to how we use the various tools at our disposal. 

We’re halfway into a year founded in clarity, vision, and truth. It hasn’t been a smooth ride, but it’s the bumps that bring forth new perspectives. As I continue to slow down, I am led to consistently examine my relationship with social media. 

It is true our current reality moves at a swift pace. However, if we don’t slow down to fully understand the information before us, we run the risk of causing more harm than good.

The price of trendy activism resides in the fast-paced nature of our current societal climate. With an urge to consistently post, share, like, and comment, we are nudged toward constant consumption and creation. 

At times, it may feel like a step backward not to share our input. However, this is a myth. The treasures found in quality over quantity are bountiful and are essential to remember. 

Some of the areas I consider when presented with an invitation to partake in a movement include the following:

  • Do I feel pressured to post what is deemed necessary by popular request?
  • Am I conducting my own research to consider all sides?
  • Is there anything else I can do besides, or in addition to posting this image/hashtag?
  • How does my participation add/subtract from the original context and overall message being shared?

This is only a starting point, and this new wave of activism is an opportunity to reimagine what social media was first intended to create. These platforms have initiated major change, however it impossible to put all of our faith in a hashtag. While clever phrases capture the attention of many, traction is just as quick to cease once the next headline takes over. 

Yes, it is possible to care and stand for more than one issue. I’ll admit, raising awareness and touching on changes that need to be made are a blessing social media brings forth where mainstream news outlets lack. However, is it productive to raise our voices on every matter that surfaces?

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*It’s also necessary to note that there is a lot of work to do—both in the personal and collective realm. Trendy activism is a term I use to describe the speed in which global issues arise in the spheres of social media. There are other terms such as performative activism that categorize populations who wish to capitalize on issues for their own gain. In this post, trendy activism pertains to the flow of information in relation to time.