We see it all the time—the “feel good” stories online, many of them increasing in video-form as the “Good Samaritan” ends up recording how touched they were in the moment of their “do-gooding”…or even end up “coincidentally” recording the act.
If you couldn’t tell by my excessive use of quotation marks, I feel a certain way about this.
If you haven’t heard the most recent viral feel-good story, let me fill you in. A woman, Paige Yore from Pueblo, Colorado, posted three-minute video on Friday about how the “Pueblo Walmart changed my life”! While in the checkout line, she hugged and comforted a supposedly 16-year-old cashier being berated by another customer, after his mother had just committed suicide that morning and while he was still forced to come to work because he had no choice due to his financial circumstances (and, it was implied, to Walmart not letting him take the day off).
However, that Walmart and the employee she referred to have both come forward and debunked her entire story….yes, they brought the receipts in the form of surveillance footage. Apparently the exchange she talked about never took place, and comments on social media shows residents of Pueblo found holes in Yore’s story as soon as she referred to the Walmart being located downtown…apparently, there is no downtown Walmart in Pueblo. The Walmart rep actually presented the evidence in pretty friendly, yet firm, manner, stating “I think it’s a great example of the kindness in the community and the relationship that our store has with the community, but we certainly wanted to provide factual information for folks.” Despite the evidence Yore still stands by her story and has declined to comment. Womp.
So, am I just hating on a woman who says she only shared this story to “[touch] people’s lives in a world where we all forget what the meaning of Christmas is?” A woman who says this “is not about the fame, it’s not about the money, it’s not about being on ABC?” No. Well, maybe a little, but it’s warranted.
When we post our “good deeds” on social media, yes, it may help someone feel warm and fuzzy inside, and it may bring issues such as income inequality and unfair work conditions to the spotlight, but what it really does is mask your humble-brag and ego in the form of contrived sympathy (or pity) for someone else’s hardships and pride at your ability to be a “good person.” Should every good deed be broadcast to the world? Should every kind act, genuine or not, be relayed in hope for a reward in the form of likes, retweets, and affirmation from others of your “goodness?” I don’t think so. I think there are times when we are truly touched by another person’s circumstances and help them overcome something in some way, whether it’s as big as rent being paid for them or as small as a hug of comfort. But when we tell these stories, we should not be telling our stories; we should be telling theirs. We should focus on why a 16-year-old is supposedly forced to work at Walmart on a Friday aka a school day to pay rent, why households need the help of their children to make ends meet, why employers do not offer enough time off for family circumstances, where the resources are for families of suicide victims to get through the ordeal, etc. We shouldn’t use our good deeds as a platform to show off our own morality and virtue, or to make the next viral video, even if your act was genuine.
This holiday season, I would like to challenge folks to do one amazing act of kindness for someone…and do not tell a single soul. Do not record it. Don’t even write about it in your journal or in your blog as a private post to publicize later. Just…keep it. The reward for kindness is the act itself, and knowing you have made a small, positive difference in another fellow human’s life. Relish in knowing that you tried, you cared, and you acted, and you will be rewarded in a much more meaningful way.
When you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
Matt. 6:2-4, GNT. Happy holidays, yall.