“Woke” is a joke: Instagram activism promotes a false narrative

“Woke” is a joke: Instagram activism promotes a false narrative

Photo credit: Katie Madigan

By Editorial Board

Swipe after swipe, Instagram is flooded with current event “activism” posts by numerous celebrities and students alike. Days later these “activists” are no longer advocating for their cause demonstrated through deleted posts and stories. So why is it that some people feel inclined to spread the word about certain topics only to take them down later? Most of the time celebrities and even high school students can feel inclined to post about something because they fear being canceled if they don’t, seek validation, or crave attention. 

Examples of images or public service announcements that discuss activism going on in the world include the new suicide prevention hotline, posts of black squares in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and highlights covering topics such as reproductive rights or the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. After weeks of advocating for these things, these activists backtrack promoting an opposing viewpoint by deleting their posts and highlights altogether. This hypocrisy could be attributed to them no longer considering these causes relevant or important, or they regret caving to peer pressure. People attempt to stay “woke” by spreading the word about these events that they may not actually be educated on or care about. 

Another problem with social media “activism” is that some of the people who share these PSAs do not receive information from credible sources. Social media is frequently a primary news outlet for many teens as seen in a survey conducted by Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey in 2019. According to the survey, 53% of teenagers get their news from social media and 61% of them claim that the news is often inaccurate, which is harmful to their perception of these current events. This is frequently seen in how political parties are portrayed on social media. Extremists from both sides of the political spectrum can lead to a false narrative, which can perpetuate fallacious stereotypes towards the groups.

When people log onto Instagram, or any social media platform, chances are they are not in search of information surrounding current events, they are just there to check up on their favorite influencer or friend. While social media can be a good way to quickly receive new information, especially for the younger generation, it is important to address your concerns by attending protests, writing letters to the government, signing petitions or keeping up posted activism, rather than buying into peer pressure to post. In addition to this, fact checking posted statements is key when perceiving news from social media. Instead of consuming all of the information from social media, viewers should gather their information from more reliable and unbiased sources, such as apnews, usatoday, and cnbc, before forming an opinion.