“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Mr. Fred Rogers
I used to think that if we do something good, there’s no point in sharing that on social media. Posting good deeds on social media seemed like an act of self-glorification, done only to show off and gain social approval.
However, the more I analyze my (and other people’s) relationship with social media, the more I realize that the bottom line is a bit more nuanced than “social media sharing = bad, good deeds done in secret = good.” There is such a thing as a good reason to share altruism in social media.
Sharing as Accountability
While 2020 has been an especially tough year, it is also the year when ordinary people accomplished extraordinary feats to help out their communities. Australians, for one, are always looking for opportunities to help each other out. All over the world, people are organizing grassroots donation drives to help people who have been affected by various calamities and disasters, on top of the ongoing pandemic.
Platforms such as GoFundMe and GoGetFunding have provided people with an avenue to better help people in need. Some people post photos and reports of their altruistic activities for their sponsors (i.e., the people who donated to their cause) to see. It’s a way for them to reassure their donors (both known and anonymous) that the donations are being used accordingly.
Sharing to Inspire
Some people share their acts of kindness to inspire their social media contacts to do the same. One example is Food Not Bombs — a movement started in the 1980s by a group of anti-nuclear activists who gave out free food to people in various cities. 40 years later, the organization has inspired over 1000 independent chapters in 65 countries, and they all share the same goal: to offer food that is “vegan or vegetarian and free to anyone without restriction, rich or poor, stoned or sober.”
Sharing a straightforward act of kindness done consistently over time is a good way to start a movement.
Sharing to Support & Inform
If you have a cause that you are working/volunteering for, one that you really, truly believe in, sharing it on social media could be a way to show your support. Volunteers at Farm Sanctuary, for example, share cute photos of the animals along with a caption that details the sanctuary’s advocacy.
Sharing to Spread Positivity
Simple acts of kindness, especially those done by people for their loved ones, or people do with no expectations of reward can bring a smile to people’s faces. Sharing stories like this can brighten up someone’s day.
If you feel like your “random act of kindness” is one that will bring joy to people who read it, that’s a good reason to click “post”.
Genuine is Best
We may not even completely understand why a social media “good deed” painted a smile on our faces, inspired us to be better human beings, or simply made us feel like we just witnessed something weird… we just feel it. I believe that the acts that truly affect the world in positive ways are born out of genuine intentions.
There is one question that we could be asking ourselves before we post a good deed–
“Who/what will my post be highlighting?”
In my humble opinion, posts that:
- highlight the beneficiaries/cause instead of the benefactor,
- do not promote/highlight a person, a product, or a brand,
- do not, in any way, present the beneficiaries as a source of valuable “life lessons” for the benefactors,
…are posts that have the power to not only bring joy to, but inspire people as well.
What Truly Matters
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong about doing great things and telling everyone what you did. You can do great things and decide to keep it to yourself, and that can be deeply rewarding as well. Everything is okay, as long as the act of giving comes from the right place: love, instead of self-gain.
The point is to help, uplift and support others as much as we can. If everyone did at least one little act of love/ caring gesture a day, the world will definitely be a much better place, whether the act was shared or no.
I’m curious… what was the latest act of kindness that you did?