Posted in Food for thought

“If you want to feed the homeless, feed the homeless But The moment you put it on social media, you are also feeding your ego”

If you want to feed the homeless, feed the homeless
But The moment you put it on social media, you are also feeding your ego

Is it a prerequisite lately that for you to do something nice or socially desirable, you advertise this on social media? 

It is important to ask this question, as it may force one to reflect on their behaviors being purely ‘performed’ for the soul purpose to be displayed on social media to fuel their ego. Wanting social or cultural capital 

When utilizing participant observation of a selected few people who included themselves in charity work, raising funds for charities and volunteered at an orphanage over seas, I was critical of not only of their motive but the reasoning behind the big scene all about it on social media, such as Facebook. 

Disclaimer: In this writing I am consciously critically reviewing the act of the promotion of oneself, through social media. At no point do I wish to belittle the work being done within charity organizations or participation with helping work, these are acts of kindness irrespectively.  

Taylor and Francis in 2014 wrote a paper on the ‘Volunteer tourism promotion material’. They discuss the discourses surrounding “rich young people” visiting different countries promised to have an adventure travel experience but to also volunteer with experiencing “the other” whom the volunteer can transform. 


If it wasn’t for the norm of dominating non-capitalist non-westernised counties, this would be seen at very ethnocentric, but it is paid with social and cultural capital attached and praise for ‘helping the poor’. Simply being present at an orphanage is not helping, little bits do count but 

Where is the line between helping to subconsciously feel better about yourself or actually wanting to make a difference in that particular person or communities life experiences? 

Of corse this could all be seen as an alternative perspective on the idea, as I’m sure there’s positives that come from it, but I think it’s important for participants to be critical in what their motivations are in providing this assistance, and critical of the organisation in which they invest time and their raised money. 

Also if one feels they are really doing the volunteer work as an act of kindness to help where they can and are needed ( in a culturally sensitive way, without pushing their own cultural practices onto the other) then what is the real need for romanticising the ideology of volunteer work? What is the real need for making a big scene of yourself at home to your neighbours about what a do Goodes you are? This is personal, as I expect everyone to have different opinions and answers to my questions, but I just think it’s good to be reflexive of behaviours. Doing so provides one with validation of what they are doing and hope to achieve through their behaviours. Are you behaving that way as a performance to enhance your ego and capital? Or are you behaving that way because that is what you deeply believe is right and what you want to do?
Taylor and Francis, 2014, Research article, Mind the ‘gap year’: a critical discourse analysis of volunteer tourism promotional material, viewed 18th May 2016

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This blog aims to capture things in my life that I love and have a passion for. These include my travels and travel plans, fabulous reads, general life observations and my continuing insight into anthropological studies.

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