October 4

I did something nice and realized I’m a horrible person

Let me pose a question…

Do you think social media is changing our personalities?

Last week I did a really big favor for a stranger. Because of a series of strange events, the stranger had no idea of the sacrifice I made — and neither did anyone else.

As I realized that no one knew about my selfless act, I reached for my phone to post about the moment. And then I stopped myself.

Why did I feel the need to broadcast my gesture? I could perhaps justify it by posting it to encourage others to be selfless, but let’s get real. I was seeking a bunch of likes and many replies with praise.

It was KILLING me to hold back. The only person I told was my husband, who did indeed give me the “you’re wonderful” feedback I was seeking. But I feel like I’ve become a horrible person who needs to broadcast my accomplishments to receive recognition or pity or support or whatever.

As I watch my social media feeds, I see us all sharing moments in our lives for public comment. We share our love for each other, our bad hair days, our yummy dinners, our sunsets and sunrises, our tropical drinks on vacation, our cute cats and, lord help us, our political views. We seek thoughts and prayers, shared outrage, product recommendations and life advice.

So my question to you… have we changed as a society? Are we incapable of keeping our inner voices quiet? Do we feel invisible if we don’t share our worlds with the hundreds (thousands?) of “friends” who “follow” us?

I’m embarrassed that it was so hard for me to keep my kind deed to myself — that the act itself wasn’t enough for me. Am I alone?

Would love to hear your thoughts… because I need the feedback. Heh.


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  • Are you horrible for wanting to tell people that you did something nice? I don’t think so. It feels great to do something nice, and we humans want to share any fantastic or remarkable experience, rather than keep it to ourselves. If not, there’d be no such thing as social networking, now or ever.

    Saying that, though, I was raised in a belief system that there is even greater valor in keeping kind acts to yourself; that it elevates the action and that it builds character to tell the Ego to sit down and take a time out every now and then.

    Because of that, I have occasionally stopped short to examine my motivation before posting. If I honestly feel there is something of value to be shared, I try to scrape the Me out of it, and just share the opportunity for others to be helpful, etc. It may still seem implicit, but that’s OK, so long as the focus is on the opportunity and not Me. I think doing that makes for a post that triggers the right outcome.

  • Hey, everyday we get to see and hear about all the bad things in the world. We are slammed with negativity. I think if you did something nice for someone you should share it. If I don’t want to read it, I don’t have to, but maybe it will encourage me to step outside my world and help someone else – even if it’s so I can brag about it on Facebook.

  • “So my question to you… have we changed as a society? Are we incapable of keeping our inner voices quiet?”

    I’d rather not say. 🙂

  • I never got the attraction of social media. I only use Facebook to keep up-to-date with my family. Twitter seems made for vain people. I don’t care what people are doing every minute of the day. I have a pay-as-you-go smartphone that I only turn on when I’m leaving the house, & I don’t have it synced to my email account. I’m not behind the times either. I’d die without my computer!

  • There are some excellent points expressed here. Yes, I do believe social media has become a stage for people to get more than 15 minutes of fame. I love reading about exciting things people do and places they travel, not so much the posting for posting’s sake.

    You seem to me to be an extrovert, Beth. I wonder if that has something to do with your desire to post your experience—to share with others, maybe not necessarily to brag. I’m an introvert and it’s everything I can do to post on my organization’s social media. Forget about posting on my personal accounts!

    Why not simply talk about how good it feels to do something for someone without going into the details of the sacrifice, rather use your feel-good moment to inspire others to look for a way they can do something kind today. Maybe even ask for ideas for small acts of kindness or even large acts like yours.

  • It can be a bit of self-aggrandizing when you post about how you did this great thing for another person but I think there’s something to be said for leading by example. Also, seeing another human doing kind and good things for others can inspire you to do more or even restore your faith in humanity.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing the positive. I’m a librarian and I try to help people every day. It makes me feel good about myself but often all you have is the knowledge that you tried to help. When you do that all day and don’t get any thank-yous or acknowledgments, sharing what you did can give you the encouragement to continue to do good.

  • I complete agree and yes, like Steve, I believe society has changed … and significantly. Don’t get me wrong – there are many aspects of social media (Facebook specifically) that I thoroughly enjoy and for which I’m grateful. My high school class has planned two big class reunions (30th and 35th) by heavily using Facebook. And it’s kinda cool that the kid in school you thought was a neat person or someone you admired or was a flat-out weirdo is now a friend with whom you regularly share jokes and funny thoughts. It’s fun to see people’s family pictures and old pictures from school days and such.

    However, once social media got to be so completely ingrained in our lives and people EVERYTHING, especially their political and religious viewpoints – there is a reason those two topics should never be discussed at a polite dinner party or on a first date – then arguing and insulting others for their beliefs, and even worse, being “unfriended” just because you have opposing viewpoints. It’s just sad. As for feeling the need to share things you did, I’m right there with you. I’ve done that. And then I felt gross about it and deleted it. Doesn’t posting about a random act of kindness or being a good Samaritan kind of negate the whole reason we set out to do those things? Doesn’t mean my itchy posting finger isn’t still dying to share it. It’s like you have to retrain yourself not to be a jerk when you never were one to begin with. Thanks a lot, social media! 🙁

  • Yes, as a society, I feel that too many people need to share the “look how awesome I am” on Facebook or Instagram. I signed off of Facebook the other day as I’m tired of it all. Instagram, I’ll still look at friends/family photos but Facebook is just plain tiring….

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