Question of the Day: Recording an Act of Kindness is Selfish or Does the Act Outweigh That?

I struggle to answer the question whether recording an act of kindness is a good thing or bad thing. I believe it is one of those situations that can’t be painted in black and white. It is absolutely a gray area.

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and I came across a video of an Uber driver who dropped an older lady off at work. Apparently on their ride, the lady was telling the driver she needed new clothes but had to wait until Christmas because she couldn’t afford them. The driver returned to the drive up window later in the day and gave the lady a dress and a few other things.

Naturally, there were tears and it was a cool human moment of someone extending a helping hand to someone who could use it. The only issue is, the person doing the act of kindness was recording.

Me personally, I won’t do something nice for someone for the sake of likes on Facebook. I don’t like to glorify situations like that. Not to say I have not done it before, but that was 9 years ago. I actually come across it every year on my Timehop. I posted a status on Facebook after giving $10 to a homeless person and saw him walk out of a gas station with a bunch of waters, a sandwich and a few bags of chips. I thought to myself, money well spent.

I have done more acts of kindness for people since then, but that was the only time I ever posted about one. It is a moral battle for me to highlight myself predicated on someone else’s plight. It feels a lot less like an act of kindness and more of a self serving ego stroke.

Of course, it doesn’t seem selfish if someone else highlights what you have done. For example, I saw an amazing post the other day about a restaurant server sitting down and taking his time with a 91 year old war vet. The person said in the post the entire restaurant was moved by the server. He sat and talked with him on his break after the man said he didn’t have many people to talk to.

All I could think about was my grandpa and the 30 minutes every Sunday morning I would spend with him every when I returned home from school on the weekends. It meant the world to him and it meant the same to me.

I thought that was awesome for the server to do that and for someone to spread the positive.

On the flip side, there is still someone being helped and taken care of with the act. The question becomes does the self serving post outweigh the act itself? That is a tough question to answer, especially in today’s political and social media climate where much of the things we see are negative and mudslinging.

One of the common statements I hear from some of my friends and/or family are that things are worse today than they were in the past in terms in terms of prejudice and hate.

Although it may feel like that because of the noise sometimes, it most certainly is not. We have progressed so much in the last 15, 50 and 100 years. Now of course, there is still a long way to go and there always will be. Progress never stops. Rest assured, we are not in a more hostile climate than in the days of the past.

Black and white people can eat at the same restaurants and ride the same transportation. The tension among Muslims and people of the Middle East was certainly more hostile just 10 years ago. In fact, I came across an old post of mine the other day talking about the mosque potentially being built across the street from ground zero in New York. The comments of outrage are still quite hilarious to me.

Ironically enough one of the biggest social justice warriors I see on social media now commented talking about how wrong it was to build and saying things like “tell that to the families of 9/11.”

If we say that about muslims, would it be ok for me to say I don’t appreicate a catholic church being less than 5 miles from my house given the stereotype that catholics are pedophiles? I have a son so I could very easily say I don’t want my pedophiles around my children.

I wouldn’t say that because I am not going to religiously or politically persecute people based on assholes within their belief system. We see the constant divide on comment sections and on the news. People like to paint their pictures with broad brushes. It is not only willfully ignorant, it is irresponsible as a society.

Because of all the unwanted noise and negative attention drawn to situations, those acts of kindness being shared restores your faith in humanity a little bit. Even if the act was done and recorded by the same person, it is still an act of kindness that the people commenting probably wouldn’t have done anyway.

We are all humans. We are all people. We all bleed the same color blood. Even if it is self serving, the positivity that comes from it seems to outweigh the amount of negative noise we get on a daily basis.

I would never use someone’s plight for likes and shares. At the same time, if everyone felt the same way I did, we would miss some of those positive moments that make the world feel like a smaller place.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk and I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by one of my favorites humans, Ellen Degeneres…

“I believe we can all come together, because when you take away the labels, you realize we are far more alike than we are different.”

 

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