Social Media as a Stage: A Behind the Scenes Analysis of Performative Activism, “Cancel Culture,” and Effective Allyship


  • Amira Abdalla
  • Natasha D'Souza
  • Ria Gill
  • Raisa Jadavji
  • Claudia Meneguzzi


Activism on social media has become increasingly significant, with individuals sharing content online to advocate for various social issues and marginalized groups. Social media has become a prominent tool for global outreach and has also led to the emergence of social processes such as performative activism and “cancel culture” (Saint-Louis, 2021). These social processes warrant further examination in order to gauge their effectiveness, and to gain insight into online and offline activism. This study explores the motivations that individuals hold for engaging in activism online, and how external and internal factors might influence their decisions. Both quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches were employed in an anonymous online survey to gain insight into individual narratives regarding these social phenomena. Within the research, participants positioned online activism as the least effective in enacting meaningful change, yet they reported consistently engaging in this form of activism. Further, most participants believed that others advocated for social movements in order to gain approval from others, but stated other reasons when asked about their own motivations to post online. While the research found that the fear of “cancel culture” led to increases in online activism, the majority of participants suggested education as an alternative to this process. This research demonstrates the importance of reflecting on personal motives when engaging online and considering the meaning of effective allyship in order to enact progressive and long-lasting change.






Thesis Papers