Activism has always been prominent in America and is continuing to grow every day. As more issues arise, more people have opinions they want to share. Activists in the past have allowed America to overcome wars, unaccepted ideas and pandemics. These activists fought for the freedoms we have today by not only speaking out, but acting on their words. Social media takes on a big role related to activism today. Multiple news networks utilize platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to educate young viewers on social media. Although these platforms allow users to repost their news and spread awareness on numerous issues, does it put pressure on students to act on them?
According to South student Vivian Leech ’23, she has never felt pressured to be an activist. She said she sees some people not take activism seriously.
“I choose to be an activist by going to protests when I have time and reposting things on my Instagram story,” Leech said. “I like when my friends will swipe up and say how what I posted is crazy and they didn’t know that was happening.”
According to former South student Xavier Prater ’21, performative activism is hard to escape in society today because everyone wants to feel like they have a voice. He emphasizes many students care more about how they are perceived by their peers than the actual issue.
“As far as performative activism goes, I don’t think people always care about the subject at hand,” Prater said.
Government teacher Michael Rennell expresses how it is important for students to create their views by looking at both sides of an issue.
“It’s important to get the news out, but it is more important that what you’re putting out there is true and you know what you are reposting,” Rennell said.
Malachi Fradenech ’24 expresses how it’s sad to see misinterpreted information on social media, especially when she has done her own research and knows what’s true and what’s not.
“Especially with Ukraine right now, there’s a lot of infographics on TikTok and Instagram that people will repost without actually doing their own research and knowing what’s really happening,” Fradenech said.
Rennell said that as a teacher, he doesn’t want to shape his students’ political views, and he wants to allow his students to form them themselves. A lot of news networks are biased, so he said it is important that students don’t get all of their information from one news outlet.
“I think that celebrities who are reposting on social media need to really check their sources because their platforms are so big and they could be spreading false news,” Leech said.
According to Rennell, once a student knows their political views, it is important that they act on them in an interactive way. There are multiple opportunities offered in school, or outside of school downtown Detroit, to express student beliefs, such as fundraisers and protests.
“The social studies department and several clubs are getting involved with Ukraine right now,” Rennell said. “It’s called the World Central Kitchen, and they’re actively taking food donations to send to people in Ukraine.”
Prater said everyone wants to feel like they have a voice. Rennell agrees with this statement, as he says how with high school students age we just want to be a part of what everyone else is doing and even adults do this too.
“When Trump was in office, you would see lots of flags and all kinds of things that were out there and because it was trending and people felt like that’s what they should be a part of,” Rennell said.
Rennell also discusses how important it is to not give in to these “trends” and really stand up for what you believe in. Leech agrees with this as she discusses how the majority’s views have never influenced her and she likes to keep herself educated as best she can.
“If everybody’s going to take this position then I’m gonna feel a little pressure to do that, too,” Rennell said. “It takes much more effort to kind of go against the tide than it is to go with it.”