Social media has brought a lot to changes to our world of today. While we can explore different fields and topics that have been shaped by the advent of social media, this piece is focused on the debate that has been going on for a while. The number of NGOs and e-fundraising websites has seen a dramatic rise in the last decade. In 2020, you may not need o contact an NGO or go on gofundme to raise funds, just know a social media influencer and your ‘prayers might be answered’.
Recently, there is a seeming debate between two parties as to whether it is good or ethical to video record acts of charity. We have seen people and organizations record scenes where they give out food, money, clothes etc. to people. On the other hand, many do these silently concealing the identity of the beneficiaries.
The Hidden Deeds
Religiously and ethically, acts of charity are better when they are hidden. This is because it defines the sincerity of intention and preserves the honour and dignity of the beneficiary. Giving in charity to be known or praised could be likened to a business where one pays to be praised.
For the religious folks, especially Muslims and Christians, the religious scriptures have encouraged their adherents to engage in acts of charity – giving to the needy, helping the oppressed, helping the oppressed and feeding the orphan.
The religion of Islam so much teaches the importance of sincerity of intentions, giving only for the sake of Allah and looking to him ONLY for a rewarding satisfaction. The Bible also did not fail to say that our left hand should not know what your right own giveth. The non-religious individuals who are somewhat bounded by ethics and humanitarianism share a part of these theories.
It is understandable if this group of people frown or preach against video recording their charitable deeds. It may not be misplaced if they see it as ‘riya’ which is show-off or a dehumanization of the beneficiaries.
As a principle, I, with the help of others have successfully raised more than one hundred financial campaigns but not once have I shown a picture of the beneficiaries or video recorded their faces on the internet.
That said, let me argue for those who video record their acts of charity.
Video Recorded Acts and Motive Consequentialism
Many social media influencers and NGOs paint the internet with pictures and videos of their charitable deeds. Pictures of cloths, videos of foods – beneficiaries crying when they receive these stuff can be found on their social media pages. What is wrong?
About two months ago, I put up a post about two orphans I took in and wrote about their plight. Though I did not mention their names or post their pictures online, someone accused me of mere show-off citing that it was not necessary for me to say I took two orphans in and later ran out of cash. He had questioned my intentions and must have doubted my reward. I asked, “do you know that because of this show-off, someone has sent some money to them while another is interested in their education?”, I asked. likewise, someone asked why I have been posting those who share our Ramadan quotes on my WhatsApp status. “Digital marketing” was the reply. I went on to explain what is consequentialism.
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. Of the philosophies of consequentialism, the most relevant to this topic is the motive consequentialism.
In a very clear term, motive consequentialism suggests that an act cannot be wrong if the decision to act was based on a right motive.
It is important that we do not put ourselves in a position to judge people’s intentions. Truth be told, those who raise funds, give out foods and other things to the needy with a video or image to show for it have seen more effective and successful campaigns than those who do not. If we think the actions are wrong, how about the consequences. Are the beneficiaries complaining? If they do not, are we not the same people who would accuse them of AUDIO CHARITY?
While I do not buy into posting pictures of sick people online or videos of those who are being fed, I have no moral right to condemn it. In our society today, especially one of twitter savages and dragging, it takes people who can accommodate criticisms and a certain level of religious commitment to raise funds without pictures or videos.
Conclusively, I am of the opinion that those who can do without videos and pictures should and those who think it is necessary should go on but they can do better in protecting the identity of the beneficiaries by hiding their face or covering their faces in their videos.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukan