Help Others…Offscreen

By: Erin R. Hennessy

As we complete another week of quarantine, see all the new and old memes that circulate and share them – I wanted to share my thoughts on something I’ve noticed.

You know the videos – the ones that show how amazing this human being is because he brought food to a needy person. How wonderful this gentleman is by helping this feeble old lady across the street. How kind this woman is for taking the deaf person under her wing and helping guide them through life even though they were not asked to.

It’s wonderful to help your fellow human beings. I am a big fan of helping others. I do it every day! I don’t video it, post it anywhere, or brag about it on social media. Why?

My first and most simple answer used to be “because I’m an introvert, I prefer to stay in the shadows” and “I don’t need credit for helping others”

And there it is.

“Need credit”

Who are these videos really serving? Does it really help the elderly, the homeless, the disabled to videotape yourself assisting them? No. When Fred has his buddy film himself helping the poor feeble old lady across the street so he can show everyone that there is still hope for humanity – there is no hope for Fred. Fred is doing this to serve Fred. Look how amazing I am! Fred can say. I helped this poor old lady with her groceries!

Speaking as a hard of hearing woman myself – watching these videos has always, always disturbed me. I couldn’t really put words on why until recently. It’s watching a fellow human being dehumanized. Humiliated. Put on display like a freak show. It’s not amazing to watch at all. It’s horrifying.

Yes, please continue to help your fellow human beings! I don’t want a single person to think that’s the point of this article. But a) help them offscreen and b) make sure they actually want the help. Some people (like me) do not like asking for help and especially do not like unsolicited help.

To me, knowing there is hope for humanity is reading and hearing the stories of how people are helping. So many people are knitting masks, staying home as much as they can, offering to bring groceries and supplies to those who are unemployed. These people are not doing this for a show, for fame, to stroke their own ego. They are doing it simply because they care and want to help others. They are the true heroes of the world.

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