Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Good Deeds Or?

And now, as they say, for something completely different - a bit of fiction. 

I'm not feeble (yet) but I am getting on, so generally I take my time when walking along a sidewalk. If I have to cross a street, I usually go out of my way to use a traffic light crossing, but not always. 

On this particular day, I wanted to get across at a spot where the nearest traffic light was a bit too far, so I was standing on the sidewalk, clearly waiting to cross when there was a break in the traffic. A small crowd of folks were coming along and when they reached me, a pre-teen in the group asked if she could help me get across the road. Figuring she needed to get her badge or some such thing, I said "sure, that would be lovely". She took my elbow and we started across. I did notice another other person who was also crossing at the same time, but didn't think anything of it until afterward.

The young lady was chatting to me about the day and the weather. Finally we got to the other side and as I was about to say goodbye and carry on in my errand, the adult who had crossed with us, yelled "Cut!" 

No, none of that happened. Yet something similar might have happened to some other older woman, given the recent flood of Good Samaritan videos that are appearing on social media. 

In the latest online example, a chap carrying a backpack and pushing a baby in a stroller is shown trying to get everything up to the top of the stairs in a subway exit. As he is almost t0 the top carrying the backpack and the baby, another chap rushes up the stairs grabs the backpack out of the man's arms and keeps going. "Oh no!" you might think, that guy just stole the backpack, but no, he drops the pack at the top then rushes down to the bottom where he picks up the stroller and carries it up to the street level to re-unite the stroller, parent, baby, and backpack in an "oh-isn't-that-wonderful" moment.

Have we in media-land just witnessed a random act of kindness? Well, yes and no. Clearly the video was not from a security camera. Someone was holding that camera. Well, actually, two someones were holding the cameras. Either that or everyone went back downstairs and they shot the whole thing again from the top of the stairs so that it could all be spliced together into a well-composed vid. What we have really witnessed was a staged good deed. 

In my generous moments, I figure these videos might simply be an attempt to convince us that helping others in need is a good thing. I am not sure, but even though I have a suspicious nature there doesn't seem to be any subversion going on here. It might be, as K suggests, that these things actually happened and these videos are just dramatizing the event to put something good on the internet. There is always lots of bad news. 

In those suspicious moments, I ask "where is the money coming from to produce these very professional looking vignettes?"

For now, I shall file it all under the heading "things that make me say hmm... "


  1. Reality and truth have become obsolete words in the digital antisocialmedia age. If they were actual acts of kindness the recording devices would be nowhere to be seen and the embarrassing scene of someone needing help would not be exposed for the world to see. As we both know fake help videos are just trying to "monetise" someone else's plight! it is always money.

    1. Few things can get me to change a channel faster than a 'reality' television show. I suppose part of my sceptical approach to these videos has to be with the feeling that I'm being manipulated.
      I believe that in order to get at the truth in the modern world one should start by following the money. Why should this be any exception?

  2. I fear that I must concur with Coline's comment, except that I think Reality and Truth were becoming obselete even earlier than the digital age. It is simply that unreality, lies, psychological denial, and all the rest of that particular ilk, have become more easily spread.

    And something else that is becoming particularly sickening, is the feeding on other peoples' emotions by the leeches that slip under various professional umbrellas, other than psychologists etc. who have some training in the subject. Heaven forfend that we should actually think and reason. Oh no! One must emote for the entertainment of the general public!

    As has been said, it is always about money.

  3. As you say, Tom, the end for reality and truth has been coming for much longer than computers have been available. I am now thinking of radio and how wonderful it must have seemed in those first days - imagine hearing someone's voice or a piece of music from a long way off. Then imagine the disappointment as it was used to tell the big lies all over the world not long after to justify war.
    So now we need to brace ourselves for the onslaught of AI on reality and truth. Oh dear, my 'hmm' has gone and been replaced by something more like a muffled scream.