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Volunteering Abroad and Traveler Selfie – The Danger of Social Media

Volunteering Abroad and Traveler Selfie – The Danger of Social Media

If you’re volunteering abroad, stop and think before you take that selfie. There is a danger that unintentionally happens with those traveler-shared social media posts. You may not realize it, but there is a campaign that highlights the problem with snaps, likes, and shares.

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Thanks to Radi-Aid, a project of the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) that fights stereotypes in aid and development, awareness of social media’s impact on stereotypes that rob the subject of dignity or privacy. With the help of “Barbie Savior,” an Instagram parody account, the campaign aims to end the look-at-me-volunteering aspect of posting pics.

Adeela Warley, CEO of CharityComms, a network of communications professionals working in U.K.-based nonprofits explains, “In the age of instant communications, it’s too easy to press ‘go,’ you still see so many images that make [impoverished people] look passive and helpless as opposed to empowered. People need to take the time to think about the stories their [social media posts] are telling.”

Using humor, photoshop, and dolls, Barbie Savior has spread the message with satire. In one image, Barbie is shopped into a photo of an outdoor toilet with the caption, “Did you know that 112 percent of the people living in the country of Africa don’t have access to toilets? #squatitlikeitshot.”

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Perhaps your intentions may not be intended to score some “likes” on social media, but the photos can unintentionally portray a stereotype and underline false perceptions. That’s why it’s so vital that we stop and think about posting that selfie. Instead, make sure your volunteer work is respectful of different cultures and traditions.

What do you think about this unintended danger of social media? Have you ever experienced negative impacts from social media? Share your stories or advice in the comment section below.

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