Bad Idea: Feel-Good FablesBeware the viral act of kindness.

Bad Idea: Feel-Good FablesBeware the viral act of kindness.

  • Words Daphnée Denis
  • Photograph Victoria Ivanova

GOOD IDEA

“How do I ever say thank you?” wept 89-year-old Derlin Newey, a pizza deliveryman from Utah, as he received a $12,000 tip from a family of loyal customers who crowdfunded the sum through their TikTok channel. The video of Newey’s bemused reaction after being presented with the check was shared far and wide as a welcome break from the anxiety-inducing news cycle. But in reporting the heartwarming tale of a community coming together to support one of its senior workers, most outlets failed to address the elephant in the room: Should anyone in their late 80s be working full-time in the first place, let alone during a pandemic?

An ever-growing trove of viral stories purported to restore one’s “faith in humanity” follow a similar pattern: Praise is heaped on an outsized act of k...

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