Doing your good deeds publicly?

When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!

HydrantsFBBack in mid-February, our local newspaper social media guru wrote: “A good deed loses some of its purity when it’s broadcasted by the ‘doer’ on social media.” I thought this was self-evidently true.

One person replied: “I’d like to think people do this to inspire others to follow suit. But the skeptic in me is pretty sure that they do this to satisfy their ego.” I have no idea about the motivation, but too often, it just feels unseemly.

Another: “If you want to pay it forward, just do it! If you are looking for praise for your complimentary cup of coffee , then you did it for the wrong reasons.” I’ll give that an AMEN.

And: “Bragging about a good deed is tacky. Class is when you do the right thing, not only when no one is looking but also when no one will thank or praise you.” YES.

And: “I know when I had someone do a random act of kindness for me, I was shocked and mentioned it on social media.” If the receiver mentions it, that is a whole ‘nother thing.

Of course, MY first reaction was to cite the Gospel of Matthew. I didn’t QUOTE it – this WAS Facebook – but I shall do so here, from chapter 6, verses 2 and 3:

When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.

Then the conversation went into a slightly different direction, about digging out fire hydrants, a function, no doubt of a then-recent fire on a Friday night, where the firefighters were hampered by a hydrant being buried in the snow. By Sunday, local fire departments, both paid and volunteers were liberating the hydrants.

I noted: “Saturday, my daughter and I liberated TWO fire hydrants on our block, NOT in front of our property. She said, kiddingly (I think), ‘We should get a citation from the city.’ My thinking was that the deed was the reward, and would not have otherwise mentioned it at all but for this conversation.”

This is a long way of asking: do you note in social media when you do a good deed? Is it for promoting oneself or to inspire others to do likewise? The above example notwithstanding, I almost never note my good deeds, because it doesn’t feel right. For me.