Monday, 15 October 2012
Charity Blogging: Selfless or Self Promotion?
Recently I have been thinking about this verse from the bible, found in Matthew 6, a lot. Over the past few months I have been made aware of, and invited to participate in quite a few high profile charity blogging campaigns, asking bloggers to use their voice and their blogs to raise awareness of different charities, or to encourage people to donate to charity. Indeed, I have been berated recently, along with other bloggers for choosing not to participate in charity campaigns raising awareness for different causes.
Whilst many, many people raise awareness of the work of charities and give to charity without hope or agenda, lately, it has seemed to me that there is an increasing trend amongst society in general to give to charity or raise awareness about a charity, with the agenda of looking good in the process. Indeed, I am sad to say that in my years of working in the charity sector, I have come across many who used their charity work or charity giving to raise their own profile and expected to be acknowledged for it, rather than doing it purely to help others. Dare I be so bold as to say it, but often, it is self-proclaimed Christians who are typically most guilty of this.
Each day there are millions of people across the world doing their bit to help charities and causes close to their heart who go unacknowledged. Millions more will often donate or volunteer for charity in a time of crisis or disaster when human decency transcends typical human nature, or on occasions like Christmas, when it seems that goodwill to man kind is a little easier a burden to bear for those who wouldn't give at other times of the year. Although people may briefly mention in passing the works they do, or causes they support to friends and family, they do not tend to be in church, coffee shops, or on the internet shouting about them or berating others for not being interested in the causes they believe in. Is this a bad thing? Social media would have us believe that it is, the bible would have us believe that it is not.
As a Christian, it seems to me that on this subject, the bible contradicts what modern day social media is about, which is hard for Christians who want to live by the bible and what they believe in, but still want to be actively involved in social media and use it for good. Social media is all about making your voice heard and quite often gathering sway for a cause or campaign, or encouraging people to donate to charity. The bible tells us not to shout about our works of charity or 'practice our acts of righteousness' before others. It also tells us not to "announce it with trumpets" (my modern day interpretation would be "announce it with twitter"), but in a modern world, how beneficial is social media in gathering sway and raising awareness for campaigns? I would say that it is very beneficial, if used in the right way.
I think that there is a clear, moral difference between using social media to raise awareness for charities and causes close to our hearts without agenda, and using social media to self publicise ourselves doing amazing works for charity, or donating money to charity. There is a clear line between keeping people informed and raising awareness for charity, and self promotion of the works you do for charity in order to gain notoriety. Within society, and within social media presently, the line is starting to become a little blurred.
People are shouting about the amazing work they are doing and amazing causes close to their heart via social media platforms, but unfortunately, it is being perceived by others as having undertones of self promotion and notoriety. Is this just the readers perception? Is this the author's hope? Is there such a thing as genuine selfless service any more?
As people before we speak, or as bloggers, before we hit the "publish" key, maybe it is worth sitting back and questioning: who are we really telling this or publishing this for? Is it for ourselves? Is it for hits on our websites or to boost our profile? Or is it purely, without hope or agenda, to raise awareness of a genuine charitable cause without making people feel guilty if they choose not to become involved. I personally really hope that it's the last reason every time.