Silent charitable works aren’t any more valuable

Michelle+Tam

Michelle Tam

By Jamie Linton, Columnist

Recently, the stories that provoke my interest are more and more frequently coming from Snapchat’s “news stories” rather than the once popular Vanity Fair article, New York Times editorial or even the headline of People magazine.

Their clickbait headlines prove more enticing than mindlessly tapping through yet another “selfie Sunday” or video of a high school acquaintance’s winter break reunion with her corgi.

At this point we’ve all grown tired about hearing how much of an impact social media has had on our society — especially when in the form of a belated monstrous revelation from our parents’ generation. But a couple weeks ago a BuzzFeed Snapchat story made an interesting point concerning the debate on whether or not one should post on social media about their charitable acts.

I volunteered Christmas Day at my uncle’s church serving turkey dinners to those who didn’t have the resources to feed themselves or enjoy a meal with family that holiday. I was hesitant to publicize what I spent my afternoon doing on any social media platform because I previously believed that doing so would invalidate the work and make others think that you simply wanted praise for being charitable.

I ultimately didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, although this decision moreso stemmed from the fact that I was incidentally teamed up to wash dishes with another volunteer who was vocally racist and rude. At that point, I wanted to just get the day over with rather than advertise to my friends about the great time I had filling in for Mother Theresa.

Meanwhile, in the other room, my dad was snapping pictures left and right of my mom and uncle in their aprons, eating the apple pie they had just served to the diners and promptly posting them on Facebook.

I was uncomfortable with this at first due to my preconceived notions about advertising charitable works; however, I then remembered an article I had read about the benefits of showing off your volunteering on social media platforms. Essentially, the article found that when you post pictures of you volunteering at a food depository or reading to children, your followers and friends are more likely to follow suit.

It’s unclear as to whether the reactions of your friends and followers stem from the guilt of their own moral conscience, or simply because they want to post their own volunteering photos.

But any action to improve the lives of others, especially those who are down on their luck, will positively benefit our community no matter the driving force behind it. This could be particularly helpful as students come back to campus looking for extracurricular opportunities such as volunteer work to fill their schedules.

So next time you judge someone for posting a 156-picture album of them stacking cans into cardboard boxes at the food depository, know that no matter how vain their motivation was, it could create a charitable domino effect.

Jamie is a freshman in Media.

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