An Argument against ‘Selfies for Charity’

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‘In the light of the recent selfies, charity is now a meagre attempt to allay guilt and boost ego, whilst making up for the lower taxes paid’

Why do you give to a charity or donate money towards a cause or a person? When you see a homeless person on the street and you give them some change, are you doing it out of a distinct feeling of compassion or care for the person or that obligation of pity? Either way, it’s doubtful that you take a photo when doing so or post about it on Facebook.

Generally speaking, boasting about what you have donated to charity but also to post selfies of yourself is quite poor form. The recent selfie charity campaign has broken the taboo of both of these, giving that distinct pleasure in allowing a glorification of one’s donation to charity, and a glorification of oneself. There are no likes or comments congratulating you for choosing to donate to charity by putting it in a box at the tills of your local Tesco, or how funny or amazing you look whilst you do it.

And that’s precisely why a lot of people who do the ‘charity-seflie’ fad don’t generally bother doing those things for charity; where’s their gratification? The motivational aspect of charity is switching from compassion and silent kindness towards showing off and boosting your ego in a spectacular way and, within that, something is lost. Many people will argue back that it’s for the greater good but the fact that people now require this motivation to make a kind gesture in the first place is a sad development.

Another frowned upon thing is to regularly post about losing someone, probably more than it is to post pictures of yourself regularly or to boast about your donations to charity. Once again, that taboo is broken by saying ‘…but I’m donating to charity’ as in some way that it counters the act of publicly stating your loss. I am not arguing against the idea that people should talk about their losses in public or through social networks. It’s just sad that often these people are criticised for it, but within the added context of a charity donation it makes it ok to talk about it, because you’re just seeking pity otherwise, yeah?

The whole argument of raising awareness is lost too. People are ‘aware’ of various cancers, disabilities, homelessness – but few question or give information as to the causes of it, the signs of it and the means by which charities operate to alleviate these problems. The other selfie campaign in regards to international students at the University of Sheffield was actually a brilliant way of making people aware of the issues of the government’s immigration bill which will have a detrimental impact on international students.[1] It is from this that I move onto my next point, the real reason as to why there is such a need for charity in the first place: the fact this money isn’t available at a state level to support the most vulnerable in society.

If people are so concerned for these issues in society, why do they vote for governments that cut funding that affects charities and the people they support so detrimentally?[2] Charities dedicated to a range of issues, such as mental health[3], homelessness[4], the elderly[5], disabled people[6], research into cancer[7] and support for cancer patients[8], are warning of the effects of cuts on vulnerable people and the ability of charities to do their work.

We should remember that quite often that a lot of these issues can be resolved or supported with additional funding from heightened income tax. Why not build more council housing or invest in schemes to assist those who are homeless? For example, Scotland has recently passed legislation to provide those who are homeless with the right to be housed.[9] The sad fact is, is that people give to charity because they feel bad for these groups, yet they’re unwilling to see any more of their income actually go towards it in taxation.

Also, to reconfigure charity in this way is to make it part of a fad and its novelty will quickly wear off. Which particular cause will be next and which causes will be ignored? As soon as people grow tired of it, the money will stop flowing in. That brief boost to funds will dry up eventually, and what is better – a brief spike for a few weeks or a consistent flow of money over a much longer period of time? Of course, it is the latter that will prove much more beneficial to charities.

Many people that have donated that money and posted a selfie on a social networking site and have ‘been glorified’, believe they can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that they look like a nice person, and don’t have to do it again for a while until their friends take part in it again.

People should instead cut the nonsense and seek glory elsewhere; go and do some volunteering work for a month over summer in a hospice, charity or a care home instead. At the end of the day, an unwillingness to lobby for more taxation for these sorts of services means there isn’t a decent level of state support for terminally ill patients, the homeless or the elderly in the first place, and makes charities like that a necessity.

References:

[1] www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/24/students-selfie-campaign-international
[2] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14366522
[3] www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/12/mental-health-funding-changes-lives-risk
[4] www.theguardian.com/society/2012/mar/28/homeless-crisis-funding-cuts-charities
[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16350730
[6] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8305905/Mobility-allowance-cuts-will-leave-disabled-people-trapped-at-home-charities-warn.html
[7] www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2010/07/why-the-uk-government-should-n.html
[8] www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/17/cancer-patients-cuts-benefits-bill-charities
[9] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20870160