Selfies or self-development? Humanitarians of Tinder (HoT) and online shaming as a moral community
Humanitarians of Tinder (HoT) is a meme account found on Tumblr and Facebook that aggregates screen captures of Tinder profiles wherein users have posted photos of themselves participating in volunteer tourism activities throughout the Global South. For example, many users’ photos depict themselves embracing racialized children in their arms or participating in rituals or traditional ceremonies in cultures to which they do not belong. In this article, I argue that HoT establishes a moral community by shaming these individuals for presumably relying on these images to attract dates, while not recognizing their own complicity in colonial structures such as the volunteer tourism industry. Using strategies of humour to mock or deride these Tinder users for their actions as well as their appearances, HoT and its commentors engage in practices of digital vigilantism that seek to punish individuals for their behaviour, rather than the organizations and industries that structure these experiences. With this in mind, I demonstrate how Tinder users’ photos replicate images in recruitment media that are designed to advertise volunteer tourism expeditions. I further question how online shaming acts as a political action motivated by solidarity that comes to replace other actions, like volunteering.
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