I come from a small, Midwestern town where almost everyone knows everyone. If they don’t, well, the chances are likely that they probably know someone who knows someone who knows someone. And in this quaint little town, the churches take regular outreach programs seriously — something I absolutely adore. But then there are those folks in church leadership who do this thing I positively hate.
Every summer as the back-to-school days are approaching, an event is held to provide low- and middle-class families who have school-aged children with some necessities — shoes, backpacks, and even haircuts on occasion. There are games for kids to play, prizes, face-painting and more. It’s truly wonderful.
But what would make it even more wonderful is if these members of the community weren’t publicly outed during their time of need with easily-recognizable photos displayed of them on social media. And, of course, detailed captions making their struggles prevalent to anyone who reads it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for social media being used to impact another person. By all means, share what’s being donated or given to someone if you feel inspired; people can be encouraged by that. But for all that is right in this world, do not put another person’s struggles on display for your own glory.
I’m tired of seeing folks in need used as an object of another’s self-praise. Chances are likely that if someone has put themselves on the line to say, “I need help,” they have already humbled themselves. There’s no need, and there should be no want, to intensify it any further. There’s no need to put their faces on public display.
For the love, let’s grant everyone the gift of a little privacy and pride. Leave the social media out of our serving.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve grown intolerant of, it’s those who do kind deeds for others for their own self-righteous, “build-me-up” reasons. And what makes it even worse? It’s often those who live the most privileged lives who do such things.
It’s the folks who don’t know the first thing about true struggle, but oftentimes believe that they do. It’s those with the means to help another person out, and when they do, it’s not long before their own praises are sung up high on the mountaintop. All the while, they seem to be forgetting those they claim to be “building up” by outing them on such a public social media platform.
Every single time I see these types of photos, my blood boils, and I steam with rage. But really, it’s not just this one instance alone that leaves me feeling hot and irate. It’s any social media stunt derived from something that was meant for good that quickly turns into something done for attention.
Because somehow, maybe without realization, society’s need for instant gratification has outweighed our pure-in-heart good deeds. Almost as if services done for others aren’t sufficient unless there are words of affirmation from outsiders to couple with it. Or, at least, public proof that it was so.
The desire for immediate gratitude runs thick, and it makes me sick.
If we were to go about it the way I believe it should be, these deeds would be done in private. Because if we truly want to help individuals in need, we must understand that those who cannot afford the basics are still human beings. Parents who cannot afford school supplies still wish they could afford them. Families who live off one income, hurting during the holidays, still long for a day when they won’t struggle during the “happiest time of the year.” These people have feelings, and they are more than able to feel embarrassment and shame about their situation, even when they don’t need to.
We should count it as pure joy knowing that a child was able to hold their head high during the school year with brand new shoes. We should feel pride in knowing a family could pay their rent because they were blessed with groceries for the month. And we should rejoice in the fact that we were simply able to make a difference in even one person’s life. Without photographic proof for our followers.
These are difficult times we live in, and folks are struggling. But these individuals are still worthy of their privacy. They are still real people, living real lives amidst all of the other real people. Real people with social media who are just a click away from experiencing further embarrassment from the hands of those who claimed to help — not to mention the kids who are afraid that their situation has been “outed” and they could be ostracized at school.
And really, they aren’t so different from you or me.
For all that is right in this world, do not put another person’s struggles on display for your own praise.
Because, no matter who you are, there is not one person immune to hardships. We are all one job, one mistake, one disaster away from becoming these folks who wait for hours upon hours in line to provide for their family in the way they are able and the way that is needed.
Giving in private is where our good works prosper, so what the hell are we doing?
For the love, let’s grant everyone the gift of a little privacy and pride. Leave the social media out of our serving to others. Become so enthralled in helping one another that praises from others start to gain the least importance.
And please, stop saying you’re serving from the good of your heart when social media boasts appear to be one of your primary objectives.