When we think of random acts of kindness, it is often a very real/physical/outdoor focused thought process. There are the classic examples of charity and generosity like helping an old lady across the road, giving money to a homeless person, patronising a busker, giving up your seat on the train/bus/tube etc. What we think of less are the places in our various online communities and digital spaces where kindness can be expressed with time and care from the comfort of our own computer workstations. The following five places and types of project are ideal ways for us to share kindness, goodwill, charity, and generosity around the internet, and by extension around the world.
Microfinance & Sustainable Charity
While there are plenty of opportunities to provide financial charity in the real world, most high street authorities and town councils frown on setting yourself up as an extremely small-scale loan provider on the local thoroughfares. Microfinance services however abound online, with many different cultures and even religious groups getting involved. Everything from the Christian groups on Kiva.org to the Sadaqah Jariyah work of Muslim Aid.
The idea behind microfinance is to give small businesses in developing nations around the world access to the same kind of cheap and easy to use capital that larger and more powerful businesses in the developed ‘western’ world have enjoyed for decades nay centuries. The great thing about these systems is that unlike normal charity, where your money is donated once, and then spent, when you give a microfinance loan, your money is loaned, repaid, loaned again, repaid, loaned yet again, repaid, and so on. The perpetual model makes your money work almost infinitely harder for the benefit of various different people around the world, a system truly made possible through the power of the internet. If you are looking for a random act of kindness that could only be possible online, look no further.
R/Explain like I’m Five
As a rule of thumb, no one ever wants to look like they don’t understand the issue at hand. It invites vulnerability to accusations of ignorance, lack of appropriate awareness, and general foolishness. As much as we would like to admit it, sometimes the invitation of the notion that “There are no stupid questions” doesn’t actually match up to reality.
This is why safe spaces like the Reddit community of R/Explain Like I’m Five are so exceptionally valuable. R/Explain Like I’m Five is a place where it is okay to admit that you don’t understand, but that you really do want to. You have a specific question, and unlike so many other areas of the internet, that does not immediately open you up to ridicule and mocking attack. Rather for this community, it presents an opportunity to assist, to provide, and to move people into a place of actual understanding. If you want a place to use your expertise and understanding for actual good, rather than tearing people down to make them feel lesser, this is the place to go.
Tab For A Cause
Among a certain type of people, one of the common features of regular and heavy internet usage is a plethora of tabs open at once. As this particular type of researcher tries to pin down every single last and smallest fact about every last aspect of whatever they are focussing on, smaller and smaller little boxes litter the upper section of their window. Leave them for two long, and that row will be nought but icons. Much longer and all you will have there is embossed lines. For a processer, this is a tragic burden to bear. For charities, it is a golden opportunity, if the right browser extension is installed.
Tab for a Cause is a brilliant way to turn your internet surfing into revenue for charity. It is an arrangement where the first page you form when opening a new tab is laden with adverts that pay directly to the charity Tab for a Cause for exposure. Only on the internet could you raise money for other people with nothing more than a click of a mouse, without actually giving any of your own actual money.
Positive & Specific reviews
Have you had a positive encounter with a retail professional recently? What about a good service from someone at a small business. Or a medium sized business. Or even a big business. However you have got that positivity from some who did something for you, there is no need to leave that work uncredited just because it is their job. We all know what it’s like to work hard and feel either un/under appreciated. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop that happening?
Now thanks to the internet you can. With services ranging from Trip Advisor to Facebook to Glass Door to Amazon, there are so many different ways for consumers to get back to the people who supply them. Often though we think of a good job as being the norm, and only exceptional work as worthy of an online comment. If you want to do a random act of kindness, but don’t want to lie or misinform people, maybe just make it known that a shop did its job. Sure, it might not have been especially special, but the fact you took the time to record it makes it special. That is what makes a truly great randomly kind action.
R/Help Me Find
You know very well what it’s like. Something from your childhood. Something you saw the last two thirds of on TV several years ago. A news story partially recalled. A birthday present now sadly long lost, but you’d love to find another of the same kind. While you and your friends memories may only go so far, an online hive mind of answers and helpers are out there ready and waiting.
On R/Help me find, people have offered descriptions of statues, wallet designs, drawings, hoodies, and any number of other specific and particular items. If you want to offer a random act of kindness to the wider internet today, pay a visit to R/Help me Find, or its sister website R/Tip of My Tongue and see if you can provide some desperately sought out answers to many a frustrated redditor’s question.
The internet is often painted as a dark, dangerous, and difficult place – filled with people ready to shame and strike down those who make even the most basic of cultural missteps. Yet if you go to the right pages, find the right sites, and consider the correct angles, you can still find many online opportunities to be kind and supportive to your fellow netizens.