Better without a photo – Diana Pardo column – Columnists – Opinion

The image struck me: a group of very well dressed women posing next to poor children with sad looks and dirty faces. The caption that accompanied the Instagram photo made reference to the contribution they were making to a certain foundation for orphaned children in a town in southeastern Colombia. There was no information about the project, much less a link where people could donate. The image led me to comment on my Twitter account about people who like to leave a photographic record when they support social causes. I said that I admire people who contribute, but I do not agree that they take a photo and even less that they upload it to social networks (Read also: Until we are all safe)

Many people agreed, but many others felt that, on the contrary, posting photos serves as an example for others to be encouraged to contribute. Their responses left me thinking and invited me to delve into the subject. That is why I like Twitter.

Promoting social causes on social media is very important. It is a way of raising awareness about the responsibility that we all have –including companies– to give and serve, and a way to show initiatives in which we can contribute. There are many people who would like to help and do not know how to do it. There are even applications that facilitate that work, welcome all. But there is a big difference between that and showing photos of the donation or volunteer work. The second is nothing more than an egomaniacal self-promotion interest that undermines the objective of serving.

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Advertising of volunteer work is very frequent in the cases of special missions to help with certain causes: aid in post-earthquake Haiti, construction of rural roads with an NGO, for example. The setting varies, but it is almost always the same: any third world country can serve as a backdrop for these photos. In no case do I criticize these missions, but I do criticize the intention with which many people undertake them and the way they advertise their work.

What is the reason that leads us to support a social cause? Are we seeking personal gratification in doing so? Or do we really want to make an impact? There are thousands of social causes to support, and we certainly have a responsibility to contribute to society. But there is no need to alert Instagram followers every time we do it. Better without a photo.


(Read all the columns of Diana Pardo in EL TIEMPO, here)