Navigating Short-Term Mission Trips in a Social Media World

by Jessica Purdy

Motivations, Safety, and Privacy

In today’s world, everything we do is posted on social media. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, our random 1:00 AM thoughts, all these things at one point or another usually make it onto our social media platforms. There are a lot of positive aspects of social media. We can use it to keep in touch with friends and family who live far away, we can use it to stay updated on what is happening in the world, and we can use it as a platform to share our thoughts and ideas.

These are good things, but social media, when used poorly, can do some very bad things. On short term trips we like to take all kinds of pictures. We take pictures of the scenery, we take pictures of the food, we take pictures of the people, we take pictures of everything we see. A lot of these pictures may find their way onto social media. There is nothing inherently wrong with posting these pictures to social media, but there are a few things we need to make sure of before posting.


What are the motivations for posting the picture? Are you trying to show your friends how poor these people are and how much you are helping them? Are you hoping to get a lot of likes by using a picture of an innocent child? Make sure that pictures you post do not exploit the people in the pictures in any way. If you closely examine your motivations and they show that you are posting the picture to make yourself look good, you should probably avoid posting the picture.


Sometimes identifying people in your pictures online can cause safety problems for the people in your pictures. Make sure to check with your hosts before posting pictures where people can be identified. If you have any doubts, it is always best to avoid posting the picture instead of endangering people.


Make sure when posting pictures to respect people’s privacy. Think about how you would feel if some people from another country came into your home, took pictures of you, posted them all over the internet, and then left. Remember these are real people and you are responsible for treating them with respect.

If you are unsure of whether or not to post a picture, you can always check with your hosts. When in doubt, it is better to avoid posting the picture. Make sure you use your social media responsibly and respectfully.


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