TikTok has a good deeds problem. The platform is well known to house ‘random acts of kindness’, aka voyeuristic content that preys on members of the general public, and this latest viral fiasco is no different. TikToker Amelia Goldsmith was left in tears after her charitable challenge to pay for someone’s food shopping went awry. Before we dive in it’s also important to note that this particular online moment took place in Goldsmith’s local Sainsbury’s in Balham.
The video, which was posted on 22 April 2023, has amassed a hefty view count of 750,000 and, as you would expect, the comments section was alight with discourse over the attempted good deed, and the ethicality of her filming it for social media.
The TikTok follows Goldsmith as she heads to her local Sainsbury’s intending to “cheer someone up.” Sadly, the people in the supermarket weren’t as keen to participate as the influencer had hoped. Despite her good intentions, everyone declined her offer, with one man even sounding angry at the idea of Goldsmith covering his shopping.. It’s hard not to cringe a little as you watch the creator get turned down repeatedly throughout the video.
After admitting that she was getting overwhelmed and was beginning to feel judged, Goldsmith gave up on her mission and resigned herself to donating pasta and tinned goods to the store’s food bank bin—earning herself a little bit of good karma as she left the store.. The video ends with a tearful wrap up of how stressful and awkward the entire situation was. Clearly, Goldsmith hadn’t got the grateful reaction she’d been looking for.
So, why all the hate in the comment section? There’s no doubt that the intentions were good, but users online can’t help wondering why influencers feel the need to film their attempts at doing a good deed. Suddenly, an earnest and well-meaning action like paying for someone’s food shop becomes a piece of performative and exploitative activism.
As well as that, users were dumbfounded at Goldsmith’s attempts to pay for someone’s food shopping in such a wealthy area in London—and in one of the UK’s midrange supermarkets. She was advised to try again in cheaper supermarkets like Aldi and Asda, where people might be more receptive to her offer.
Comments under the video are divided, with one user stating: “I personally wouldn’t like it either, the filming puts me off but also I’d think ‘oh do I look like I’m poor’.” Another netizen was gentler with Goldsmith, praising the “lovely gesture” but advising her to maybe not go to Balham “where most people live in £1m houses.”
People often react poorly to charity, especially when it comes from someone filming with their phone in their hand. The actions feel insincere when they’re done for a video, no matter how true the intentions are. Rather than a genuine act of kindness, it becomes transactional: ‘I’ll pay for your shopping if you help me get views on TikTok.’
However, there were also users that showered her with praise and affirmations. One individual wrote: “You should be proud of yourself.”
It’s hard to take things on good faith when they spawn in a place as sketchy as the internet, and this video is just another example of a current phenomenon where users perform positive acts online simply for likes and views. But, if the overall outcome is net good, then is there a problem?
At the very least, the general consensus seems to be that if you’re only committing acts of kindness and charity when the cameras are rolling, you probably need to invest in some self-reflection.
SCREENSHOT reached out to Goldsmith for a comment but did not receive a response.