VSCO Girls and Political Activism


Photo courtesy Courtesy of the IndyStar

When hundreds of people marched the climate strike last Friday all over the world, people were quick to criticize their actions for being foolish. After all, a group of people – big or small – would not immediately solve the climate change issue. However, in a world where people use social media to show their political ‘conscientiousness’ and ‘activism,’ I found it extremely interesting that there were significantly fewer people that went to the march – although their social media pages begged otherwise. In a time where tangible change is most necessary, performance activism seems to be rampant. Yet, this existence poses an interesting question: if in a state of utmost desperation, isn’t every type of activism most necessary?

In my opinion, I believe quite the contrary when it comes to performance activism. I believe that performance activism is possibly the most dangerous type of activism because it gives people a sense of validation for not doing anything. People chase after marches and protests with pretty signs to prove that they are “woke” enough and repost about global crises without bothering to do anything about the problem. The central idea of activism is to act upon something. Some may argue that social media proved itself to be the most efficient way to promote new events or ideas, and in that aspect, the argument still remains true. However, there is a finite number of people that you will reach to bring attention to the issue. It is important that people are informed, but to have a statistic that does not reflect the actual number of people who are willing to do something about the issue is highly misinforming and problematic. 

A new phenomenon online is the emergence of ‘VSCO’ girls. With their colorful Hydroflasks, pastel shirts, scrunchies, and reusable straws out to save the world, they have become the public’s muse and humorous take of what sustainability means to the people in our generation. In a way, the take is quite accurate. Though minimalism is often what coexists with sustainability, an increase in consumption to purchase new reusable or sustainable items has been on the rise. However, purchasing and using is extremely different from purchasing and not using. People who purchase a reusable item and constantly reuse it, in the long run, will ultimately decrease their carbon emissions. 

Perhaps this is my plea for people to take action, and to not criticize those who are trying to do something that they are not doing enough. Maybe going vegetarian and carpooling once a week is the best they can do. Maybe going to an activism club to learn about what is actually going on, using a reusable bag, or using a Hydroflask is the best they can do. We might not be perfect, but we can try to live what we preach online.