Altruism isn’t something to showcase on social media

Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is something that often brings a sense of pride.

While it’s good to feel useful, it’s also very easy to get caught up in a sort of altruistic ego. In some cases, to the point of forgetting the main point of volunteering: it’s not about you.

Far too often our social media is filled with preachy images of people in need, such as poor villagers or sick children; but their highlight tends to be the well-off westerner standing in the middle, belly full and shining smile.

A true hero who already booked their flight back to Miami.

Any cheapening of the way we portray philanthropy is tied to its effectiveness. Blindly cheering these empty acts may create the idea that making the world a better place boils down to posting these pictures on Facebook or Instagram.

News Flash: helping people is supposed to be hard.

Consider Peace Corps members.

They have to make two-year commitments, often engaging in back-breaking manual labor in some of the world’s poorest countries. And even within this organization, the term Posh Corps is used to describe easier tasks in stabler nations.

So don’t feel so special because you went to Guatemala for a week.

Real public servants are often anonymous; publicity is beside the point, as is travel to faraway places.

Many of our local communities have serious problems: homelessness, drug use, crime and illiteracy.

Why not start by serving your neighbors?

One of our editorial board members has had personal experiences with this sort of fakeness. At a graduation for disabled students at a local school, she saw how some Greek Life members were using her brother – who has cerebral palsy – as a prop for their sanctimonious theatre.

We believe this issue hasn’t been properly addressed since it’s not an obvious fault; rather one covered in pleasurable images. Some of the people who do this may not even realize they’re doing it.

But we have to address it because altruism is an important and respectable idea whose standards of usage have fallen way too low.

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash.

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