Oddly relevant memes, adorable pictures of mixed-breed doggos, countless beach selfies, subtle travel flexes - just a few things on an unending list of things we all casually go about sharing on social media platforms. Before you get the wrong idea, I’m not here to criticize your choice of content sharing today, God knows my own road to repentance is long and treacherous (cue in my mysteriously vanished middle-school-selfies with captions so cheesy they make Nickelback look good). What I want to discuss today is one of the few things many of us don’t feel comfortable talking about - our acts of kindness.
Before I get into examining this questionable social norm that has stuck around for no real reason, I just want to point out that I’m in the same boat as the rest of you. When and if I ever do something nice, the thought of sharing it (whether that be in-person or online) seems uncomfortably holier-than-thou and in some twisted way, feels as if it defeats the entire purpose of the act. As such, this is as much of a soliloquy as it is a conversation with all of you.
Why is it absolutely acceptable (if not encouraged), to share nearly every detail of your private and professional life except for when you do anything good? Think about it.
Had a kid? Up go the baby photos on Facebook.
Got promoted at work? Better slap that onto your LinkedIn ASAP.
Found a way to stuff more than 3 Tide pods in your mouth at a time? Earmark that one for the Insta hall of fame. (Please do not do this.)
Why is it that actually sharing something good that you did for someone other than yourself is the one thing that you fear you’ll be socially castrated for?
Now, we are all familiar with the mélange of - well, weird thoughts - that come to mind the moment you think of sharing something nice you did for a person or a cause. I say weird because they aren’t necessarily bad thoughts, they’re just uneasy. Thoughts of vanity, self-righteousness, and pomp being some of them. Now I don’t really want to delve too deep into these feelings since we’re already acutely aware of them. What I want to talk about instead are the many benefits that society stands to miss out on if we continue to be shy about sharing something as wonderful as the good deeds we do in the world.
Benefit One - Sharing Reminds People to Get Involved
When we share virtuous acts with others, it serves as a gentle reminder to the many people out there in the world who are already convinced of the need to help others but may have momentarily gotten lost in the torrent of ceaseless information flow that is the internet. We are exposed to more content today than at any other time in history and unfortunately, not all that content serves to benefit us. We need to start having these discussions more frequently and more openly so that we’re pushing out more positive, encouraging content into the world and rounding out the news feeds of those around us. It also doesn’t help that most of us modern humans are incredibly lazy and have a habit of procrastinating our days away; many times, all we need to spur us into action is a gentle nudge and perhaps a post about a fun way to give back to our community.
Benefit Two - Sharing Changes Minds
Another reason to share your kind deeds is to convince those who may not yet be convinced of the power and importance of doing good. The way I personally would like to see this manifest is by people sharing stories so powerful, so ripe with emotion, that it catches the attention of even the most uninterested people in your social circles. Ideally, you can find a way to share your content in a way that is both inspirational and informational, blending in what that act of kindness meant to you with some educational references. This way people can not only understand the cause better through the information you shared but they can also relate to it through your experience. In my opinion, this is a far more effective way to persuade others, as opposed to calling them out for inaction or assigning blame. It also has the added advantage of not coming off as self-righteous but simply passionate. And passion has been known to do wonders.
Benefit Three - Kindness is Contagious
I think something we can all agree on is the utter randomness of the type of content that goes viral. I like to habitually poke fun at this – as do we all – but the reality is that a great deal of content that goes viral has actually accomplished some amazing things for the world. We’ve managed to fundraise for charitable causes, raise awareness about vital issues, coordinate relief efforts at scale, and kickstart/catalyze entire social movements. Many of these things happened simply because a few brave and dedicated people decided to mobilize online and share what they were doing which ended up multiplying manifold and in turn making the world a better place for everyone. So, the next time you’re second-guessing sharing a photo spending time at a nursing home, think of the power of the internet and imagine the hundreds, potentially thousands of other volunteers you could inspire to bring some light to other lonely elderlies in need.
Benefit Four – Sharing Helps the World Feel a Little Less Lonely
Lastly, and this is a bit of a Hail Mary (which is why I mention it last) but maybe it just feels good to talk about something you did for someone else. Maybe its cathartic. Maybe you had a bad day at work and a few kind messages from close friends about the service you did wouldn’t be the worst thing right now. Don’t hold back on account of others thinking you vain. You still did a good thing. Sharing now doesn’t nullify what you did then. As long as you don’t let it devolve into self-righteousness, it’s alright to soak in the euphoria for a little while.
You’ve earned it.
Inciting Altruism is a community all about sharing the stories of the good we do. Join us in our community and we will be here to support you. So next time you do something kind for someone, try and hold onto how it made you feel. Share that story, and if you want, tag us. You’ve got us in your corner, and with any luck, your act will be the first domino in a series of good deeds that help build a kinder, brighter world for everyone.
About the Author
When he isn't consumed by chronic procrastination, Aayzed spends his time reveling in cult classic films, concocting wild conspiracy theories, and chatting up strangers every chance he gets. And food. Copious amounts of mouth-watering, sweat-inducing, life-shattering food.
He's incredibly drawn to the written word and makes vain attempts of his own at exploring his curiosities by way of his blog.
Check out his writer's page to explore more of his work, or if you're interested in his half-baked theories and peculiar observations on life, check out his blog at analogdaydreams.com.