This article appeared in the South China Morning Post’s Post Magazine as a Rant column
Jesus Christ, famously a December birthday boy, declares in Matthew 6:3: “Let not the left hand know what the right hand doeth”. In other words, give alms for the sake of it, not so you can tell yourself, and everyone else, that you’re an alms-giver. In humility, there is beauty and grace.
If male facial hair is any guide, it cannot be said that November is a month for such things. The wisdom anchoring “Movember” – now a fixture on global calendars, with its mandate on men to grow a “mo”, or mo-ustache (clever, eh?) for 30 days – seems to be: “Let the left whisker, and by extension the world, know exactly what the right whisker doeth.”
Look chaps, I know you’re doing it for a cause – raising awareness of men’s health issues and suchlike – and if you’ve badgered me for money you’ll get it. And I know that, y’ know, you care about stuff. But what’s to stop us all doing charity, thoughtfulness and all the rest of it without the circus – and the endless selfies?
Movember, now in its tenth year, was just the start of it, unfortunately. Singposting that you’re good / moral / give a stuff – whether via self-defacement (an off-putting Movember tache here, an Ice Bucket Challenge video there) or some small act of self-empowerment (giving up the fags for “Stoptober”: that’s a real thing in the UK) is where charity is at now. It’s like social media has made little celebrities of us and we’re all running our own PR – you only care if you care conspicuously.
Narcissism is at large, unshaven and wearing philanthropy’s trousers.