The POWER of a hashtag

Written by: Annie de Castro, 17

Location: Singapore

It seems like every week that there is a new, “urgent” problem trending on social media. For the past few months, people decided the ongoing, complicated Israel-Palestine conflict was in.

Social media users wait for a controversial policy to be passed so they can hop on the next trend. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with caring about the rest of the world, and there’s nothing wrong with advocating for change.

The problem lies in a relatively new, social media -born phrase: performative activism.

My problem with performative activism, the concept of being an activist without truly caring, is the false pressure that it puts into the world. Hiding behind a screen and sharing your opinions is much easier than speaking them out loud. When you choose to open a social media platform, it feels as if everyone in the world has the same opinion, the same stance, and that everyone in the world cares.

It pushes people to care about the things they don’t know about.

Although I am knowledgable about certain current events, there are many issues that I am unfamiliar with. That is okay. It is better to have no opinion, and stay quiet, than to form an opinion because it appears everyone else feels the same way.

Beyond the individual, these performative activists are able to magnify their stance so much that they influence politics. In recent years, extreme leftists became mainstream despite their prior minuscule influence. Social media makes minority opinions seem like the majority.

As a result, presidential candidates use the opinions they see on social media as a leverage to gain more votes. This leaves a large but silent majority of people unhappy with the political state of the country.

While I cannot propose a nationwide solution to performative activism, I can propose a remedy for the individual. I hope to alleviate the pressure and to share different opinions with the loud minority.

Through Project You, I hope to share my philosophy on open-mindedness and forming educated opinions. When a new "hot topic" becomes trending news, I encourage those reading this article to do more research and close social media before forming your opinions. Because pretending to care, is harmful.

Writer: Annie de Castro

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I am from the United States, both physically, and mentally. Though I haven’t lived there in almost 6 years, it plays a major role in my identity, whether I like it or not. Engulfed by my extremely lib