Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Performative activism helps no one

The most common age range of people I see in a Starbucks are 20-something year olds. And at the same time, the most common age range of people I see posting on Instagram about the Israeli-Palestine conflict are also 20-something year olds.

Older generations of activists may note the actions of younger people and go, “Hah, it’s their fault. They are the people who are fueling the machine. Not me.”

I would like to say that no, we are not fueling any sort of machine in this context.

Right away, I do not want this article to be mistaken as stating, “You should not do anything to support Palestine because in the grand scheme of world events your efforts will not help.” I want this article to be an insight to the varied responses from people with different views, which can occur when a global disaster is happening in front of our eyes.

The ongoing effects of the genocide occurring against Palestinians can bring out the “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” thought process. Under this model, everyone should be doing their best job to avoid complicity in these global atrocities through boycotting, protesting, etc. With this model, there is little to no room for non-performative progress. A person only sharing their opinions on consumption and being complicit can just as quickly turn around and buy a Pink Drink or McFlurry.

However, if we really want to dive deep into people’s social behaviors: our chocolate, clothes and phones are all built on the blood of other people, most often children. If you are going to chew out a friend or peer for consuming unethically but then buy fast fashion the next day, you are not the better person.

Just because a person does not post about their stance on an issue does not always mean that they do not support a cause. A person might have extenuating circumstances where they cannot post their true thoughts on social media. For example, someone’s family may cut off emotional or financial support if they see a post that goes against their political beliefs. I do not believe we should shame others for how expressive we are about these topics, as silent activism (donating, calling government officials, or sending care packages), can do even more good than only contributing to the 24/7 toxic cycle of horror on social media.

While this does not and should not excuse a person who does nothing to support Palestinians and people dying from the genocide, we need to see the entire picture. A person might be the most educated and informed person you know and you have no idea, not because they are cowardly, but because they are not feeding into the media cycle which is meant to drain and exhaust people until they no longer feel alive.

Yes, everyone should be angry, disgusted and enraged. Yes, we as a campus community should support Palestine how we can in our small Pittsburgh bubble. However, as much as I see passionate students, I see apathy when it comes to organizing demonstrations and mutual aid event participation. If you do not have time to advocate now, when will you?

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