As humans we feel empathy for other people, we lend a helping hand and we pick others up when they are down. With the age of modern media, it’s almost thrown at us every single day a story of someone’s suffering, whether it is the refugees, the homeless, or wars in the Middle East, every day, somewhere, someone is suffering and we are reminded of that. With most discussion of this topic, it’s boiled down to the ideas of what is ethical to publish on the basis of what’s labelled as “Poverty Porn”. Is it ethical to publish a photo of a dying child for the reaction and the message it portrays? Do they have their rights still? Does it even matter because they aren’t in the immediate area it’s being published? Many questions, and no answers.
However, with this topic on mind, the idea of poverty porn and using poverty and hardships as a way of getting messages, art or ideas across, I have thought further towards a more modern adaption, something I myself witness nearly daily throughout social media. Using the idea of poverty to boost one’s own image online.
[Image reference – https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-dXMdvNgEe0/maxresdefault.jpg ]
I’m sure we have all given money or food to a homeless person before, we have done the good deed for them, we tell them to have a nice day which is returned with a “God Bless You” and we go on, feeling pretty good about ourselves for making someone else smile, and that’s an amazing thing to do. However, it’s becoming a trend throughout the social media networks for people to post, take photos, or show that they’ve “helped out” in one way or another as a sure fire way to gather likes and support from other people, which now asks the question.. Do they actually care about the good deed? Or is it all just for some likes? One would hope it’s the first answer of yes, but in some circumstances it seems unlikely. Before social media we didn’t put up posters or call our friends to say guess what I just did, we just did it out of the goodness of our hearts, not for someone else to send us a heart in support.
In Jeremy Wilson’s article, he supports this idea by commentating on the way internet users use the homeless to gain attention and viewers in return for a larger fan base, for advertising purposes to gather a profit. He quotes;
“For the narcissistic, desperate for a slice of online fame, cynically exploiting viewers’ emotions and squeezing out the audience’s praise for their good deeds is almost as delicious as the ad revenue.”
[image reference – https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/94/cb/4d/94cb4da62eed23648edcf7e072bb2570.jpg ]
To bring upon a conclusion, I ask a simple question. Are we are humans too easily manipulated for someone else’s gain? Are our hearts too big to realize we are being played a fool for someone else profits? Or is it all just a new age, of new media, and a new way to boost your online image and a new way to get yourself ahead in the ever changing struggle for the social ladder top spot?