I started noticing this trend during Hurricane Harvey. For sure it wasn’t a new trend, though it only then caught my attention: people doing good-enough, selfless deeds, but not without posting serious self-kudos on social media. This was in Houston (TX), but with so many natural disasters happening around the U.S., I’m sure people see it often, throughout the country.
But why rant about this here? Well, the people I noticed doing this the most seemed to be my fellow nonprofiteers. Not that they were the only ones out there volunteering, delivering food, being good humans… but I’ll tell you it wasn’t my oil-and-gas, for-profit friends whose Facegrams and Instabooks were filled with low-key brags.
Caveat: This is a rant, not a diatribe. Lots of folks were posting calls to action, i.e. “I’m here at the Convention center; here’s what they need and here’s what you need to know if you’re coming out…” and as someone who was interested in lending a hand, I saw those as helpful, if not meaningful.
If I had to distill down the reason why this happens so often in nonprofits, I’d probably say — ego. And by ego, I obviously mean the Urban Dictionary definition: “The main reason that I am better than you.” Ego can be an incredibly useful tool. It can get people to dream big about seemingly impossible (or improbable) outcomes. The flip side, of course, is self-aggrandizement, which is rampant in our field. If you spend enough time on this blog, you’ll notice people’s opinions of themselves is a sticking point for me.
On a more work-related level, I think LinkedIn is the other primary venue for undercover gloating. I mean, no one really cares you got invited to participate with some lackluster panel discussion about [insert benign topic here]. Well, maybe your mother cares, but probably not the entirety of the Internet. And why don’t they care? Because there’s no call to action (see above). Instead of just boasting about [benign topic], tell us why we should care. Tell us what impact it will have on us, our work, the field, etc. Maybe then we’ll “like” it or “share” it or even leave a comment. Oooooooooooooo.
Rant, over, but to help drive the point home, please enjoy this chart I made with Microsoft Paint. Thank you very much.