JustSociale Board Member and transgender advocate Melissa Griffiths on how kindness matters:
It’s often the small gestures that have the biggest impact. I was in Highpoint recently and a lady who works there complimented me on my fashion sense; she told me I have great style and to keep it up. It made me feel good; it made my day.
A similar experience happened earlier in the year, but this time online, when a friend offered to give me $500 towards getting a halo wig after many years of following me on social media. Having read a post I had written about beauty and how beauty comes from within, and sharing a discussion with me on messenger, she said she was inspired and “was happy to give me $500 to get my hair done”. This may sound like a relatively minor gift, but as a trans woman who has already incurred significant medical and other costs involved in transitioning, it was a gesture that shows that the kindness of strangers truly counts.
Being kind takes many forms – and it has the power to multiply and expand. As we witnessed at the start of this year, more than 1.3 million donors from across the globe raised over $51 million in Celeste Barber’s viral 2019 bushfire appeal – making it the biggest online fundraiser in Facebook’s history. Erin Riley also demonstrated the power of the Internet for good when she co-founded FindABed – a simple website quickly set to match those affected by the catastrophic Green Wattle Creek fire near her home south-west of Sydney with members of the public offering accommodation, shelter for pets or a safe place to recharge. Just a week after launching, the site had accrued 7 000 listings and housed around 100 people.
In a year when we’ve had to be physically isolated and digitally connected more than ever before, practising one of these digital acts of kindness could make a real world impact on the life of a fellow human being
- Take a moment to leave a positive review for a local restaurant, small business or to acknowledge good customer service. It could help to boost a business possibly struggling in these unusually tough times.
- Send a text, or better yet, call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Checking in with someone and re-connecting with them spreads joy and positivity, and shows that you care about their wellbeing.
- Always finish your emails with a positive note, like “Have a Great Day”.
- Take a few minutes to answer that launch invitation or meeting request someone has taken the time to send you – even if you have no intention of going. A ‘no’ is better than no response at all.
- Email a colleague saying how much you appreciate their help or feedback.
- Find an inspiring TEDTalk, social media post or YouTube video or channel and share it with someone who could benefit from it. Take Rob Kenney, who used quarantine to start the YouTube channel ‘ Dad, how do I…?’ where he teaches kids, teens, and adults, basic and practical life skills. In less than two months, Rob already had an impressive 2 million-plus views and 1.2 million subscribers – showing the power and reach of a kind word and helping hand in the digital sphere.
- Be kind to yourself and clear the clutter off your computer and cellphone. If you are going to re-app, explore the many apps dedicated to making life kinder and more productive. And remember to take a break from your screen time. Sit in the sun for an hour without your phone and practise gratitude for the simple things in life.
As the saying goes, kindness costs nothing but can mean everything, so in the spirit of good digital citizenship, let’s make every click, call and share count.