PowerPoint activism is taking over your friends’ Instagram accounts

Nguyen, Terry

In 1971, to the backdrop of a funky jazz rhythm, musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron declared that “the revolution will not be televised.” In 2020, however, it’s possible that the threads of revolution would be found on Instagram — its message distributed through wide chunky typefaces and bold gradient graphics that preface a mini informative slideshow.

Online activism, coupled with in-person organizing, reached a zenith in June, as daily Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country. Instagram, once an apolitical din, reflected that change. It no longer felt appropriate — even for celebrities and influencers, who tend to exist unfazed by current events — to skip over politics and resume regular programming. The escapist days of uninterrupted brunch photos and filtered selfies have been replaced by protest photos and black squares. For a brief moment, it seemed as though people, whether they have 150 followers or 150,000, were hyper-aware of what they should or should not post.