#InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism

How are you not narcissistic when criticizing your former narcissist self?

Voluntourism organizations don’t have to advertise, because they can crowdsource. Photography—particularly the habit of taking and posting selfies with local children—is a central component of the voluntourism experience. Hashtags like #InstagrammingAfrica are popular with students on international health brigades, as are #medicalbrigades, #globalhealth, and of course the nostalgic-for-the-good-days hashtag #takemeback. It was the photographs posted by other students that inspired me to go on my first overseas medical mission. When classmates uploaded the experience of themselves wearing scrubs beside adorable children in developing countries, I believed I was missing out on a pivotal pre-med experience. I took over 200 photos on my first international volunteer mission. I modeled those I had seen on Facebook and even pre-meditated photo opportunities to acquire the “perfect” image that would receive the most Likes.

via #InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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