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The obsession with doing visible social good comes from a certain part of society, reinforced by academic advisors and admissions criteria as a requirement for advancing into the next academic tier.

Nevermind that by merely participating in a marketplace as a service provider or consumer you're providing a social benefit; that benefit's just not as easy to understand and doesn't get you any vanity points.

But if you're on a mission trip carrying a third world orphan in a microloan-built vaccination tent while on the phone with companies asking for food donations, you're just the most selfless person ever - clearly such charity is just an innate part of who you are.

Not everyone here has grown up in US academic culture. I for one have formed my desires of helping others long before I noticed anyone rewards that in any system (not to mention that my country's education system doesn't put much focus on volunteering for social causes).

Also, spending time on understanding the benefits coming from participation in a marketplace leads one to conclude that the market doesn't address all human needs promptly enough, and is not itself beyond creating many great problems.

If you took a few minutes to consider that I may be a completely different person than the one you're conjuring up, you might have something more useful to say.

Well said. I'm certainly in favor of people being free to decide how they want to spend their time and money, but I think you could make the argument that a lot of these visible social good activities, e.g. starting a the upteenth and one non-profit to provide clean water in third world countries, could very well be doing less "social good" and wasting more resources than someone donating their salary or even engaging in regular marketplace activity.

You could make that argument, and indeed many are. For instance, the effective altruism movement is all about evaluating that argument. The real question isn't if, but when participating in the market is an effective way of helping. Similarly, a good question is the one OP is asking - are there effective ways of helping directly with tech skills, and if so, what are they.

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