Performative Activist

What is a performative activist?

A person who acts like an activist just to gain social standing

A performative activist is a person who participates in an activist movement, not because she believes in the cause but because she wants to gain social standing. The phrase became popular in 2020 to criticize people who were pretending to care about activist causes, most notably the George Floyd protests.

Performative activists are often found online, especially on social sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The person may post that she is for a certain issue, but doesn't actually do anything to support the cause, like protest or donate money.

Oftentimes a performative activist just wants to appear like she has the same interests as her followers or she doesn't want to be accused of inaction so she posts something to appease her critics. Other times, the person may just be naive, not realizing that her posts come across as insincere.

Various social media influencers have been accused of being performative activists. In June 2020, singer Madison Beer was accused of performative activism during the George Floyd protests. People thought she was partaking in photo ops during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest for her Instagram account.

The performative activist term is similar to the slacktivist term that describes a lazy activist. Performative activists may be also compared to posers.


Don't pay attention to him, he's just a performative activist that doesn't actually care

The sentiment of some performative activists

Related Slang


Updated June 5, 2020

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