Last week I saw a status on Facebook about the Pay-it-Forward initiative, whereby the poster of the status agrees to do something nice for the first five people to respond – the only caveat being that they too have to sign up to the initiative and do something nice for others. I didn’t think twice about signing up, both to the original post offering to do something nice for me and the subsequent one offering to do something nice for others, and I thought that others would have the same reaction. But, it would seem, I was wrong.
One friend (who shall remain nameless) immediately sent a joke message ridiculing the initiative – though did later apologise and call it ‘nice – in a gay sort of way.’ Apart from that: Radio silence. That’s right, for several hours not ONE person said they would like to receive something nice, for free, over the course of the next year. And, even now (a full week after the post), only TWO people have responded – despite five places being offered. I’ve even resorted to extending the offer to the two people who ‘liked’ the post – one of whom was the person who brought the initiative to my attention in the first place.
I have a theory that if it was simply a chance to receive and not also a request to give I would have been inundated, but the sad truth seems to be that people can’t be bothered to take it upon themselves to commit to doing nice things for others. I’ll admit the initiative is cheesy, but what’s wrong with a bit of cheese once in a while? Is it not a refreshing antidote to the vast swathes of negativity, hatred and misery in the world?
Maybe I’m being oversensitive and should realise that the lack of response to a status that many will have deemed to be cheesy and annoying is not in itself indicative of a deep-rooted societal malaise when it comes to reaching out and helping our fellow human beings. Or maybe, just maybe, we are all becoming harder of heart than ever before. Either way I feel a sense of disappointment that my attempt to spread genuine joy and happiness has been thwarted – not just by mockery, but also overwhelming ambivalence.
On a more positive note, there’s still one place up for grabs…Any takers?