Selfies, New Media, and why they are ruining charity

I did not do a “no-makeup selfie” and contrary to popular belief, it’s not because I’m a cancer superfan.

I chose not to join in because I have a very specific view (which I mentioned in this post) on the notion of going to new media as a platform for fundraising. While I am in strong support of website like JustGiving, who have created a fantastic way for anyone to get involved in both giving and fundraising at the click of a button, I do still have an issue with viral campaigns to collect donations, which I really feel trivialise the issues which they are meant to be in support of. A friend of mine, and fantastic human rights activist, posted something to this effect on the Facebooks earlier, and I was amazed by some of the responses…

cancerThis, to me, is representative of the conversations more of us should be having in regard to the outbreak of  social media based fundraising. I don’t think the “no-makeup selfie” campaign – which incidentally was started completely by the public – portrays a negative image of the cancer sufferers it was supporting, but the connotations which come from a “no-makeup selfie” being some kind of a big deal, bother me. I don’t think we should be abusing good causes as an excuse to take part in a viral phenomenon.

When I was about 12 years old, LiveStrong wristbands came into vogue at my school. I never had one, but loads of people did, and loads of people had no idea that buying them meant supporting a cause and buying knockoffs did not. A schoolfriend who was catholic vehemently (for a 12 year old) decried the whole thing, saying that giving to charity was a duty that shouldn’t be used as a status symbol. I still think that holds true. I support every penny raised by Cancer Research via selfies, but if it’s only done for a few more likes, then I think that is a devaluation of the caring nature of humanity. Similarly, and as highlighted in the conversation above, campaigns which are poorly constructed to target a certain market without thinking of the ramifications should be shut down. Doing a good thing is good, but it’s so important to do it in the right way.

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