feel-good

so, there’s a lot of these feel-good videos where people do super kind or generous things, or there’s just some moment of raw happiness. this week alone, i’ve randomly encountered:
– a woman getting out of her car to give a homeless man a coat
– a sick kid returning to school getting hugs from all his classmates
– a whole bunch of family and friends going nuts after this kid opens his college acceptance letter

no matter how cynical i get, these are heartwarming. they’re a reminder that things aren’t always terrible.

but i keep thinking about how weird it is that we pull out our phones and record these moments. especially when it comes to random acts of kindness.

i’m just not sure what to think about it. in general, i don’t think it matters much why people do good things. inevitably there are people who volunteer or help others because it makes them look good or makes them feel good. and that’s fine. it’s not great, either, but i tend to think that it matters more what you do than why you do it. that could also be Bojack rubbing off on me lately, there’s a few episodes that riff on that theme.

i remember after the tsunami in Japan back in 2011, there was an initial barrage of disaster / destruction videos on all the blogs I followed because, of course, it was nuts to behold. it was also one of the first major natural disasters since the advent of ubiquitous cameras on all of our devices.

and then i saw the term “disaster porn” dropped, and there seemed to be a sudden awareness that we were collectively rubbernecking over the misery of others. it’s sort of like war photography – there’s a line between telling a story and profiting from destruction.

i don’t think these feel-good videos are in the same category, but there’s something weird about knowing that somebody’s out there getting a little dopamine rush imagining the views and likes they’re gonna get once they post their video of rescuing kittens from a volcano.

i’ve heard people talk in jest about this with babies and weddings, but there was also a shared acknowledgment that it wasn’t … really a joke. the attention feels good.

no slam dunk conclusion here, just something i’ve been chewing on.

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