SAINT Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one”.

It’s heart warming to see that in 2016 her words are still being heeded, albeit with one crucial addendum: “as long as you put it on Facebook”.

Because it might be the season of giving, but what good is giving without getting likes, shares and follows? What is the point of doing something charitable if you can’t boast about it on social media, end up in the news and potentially land yourself a lucrative TV or publishing deal?

Altruism? Bah, humbug!

Take the little American girl and her father who have made headlines because of their viral video, “adorable girl gives her dinner to homeless man”. Just the title is enough to make you choke on your mince pie.

In the video – which has racked up more than 45 million views on Facebook – a cute, curly- haired young girl is shown taking a plate of food out of a busy restaurant and handing it to a slightly dishevelled looking old man sitting on the bench outside.

“That’s my girl,” crows dad as he films her through the window, before marvelling at how appreciative the man must be for getting his daughter’s second-hand meal.

“You’re amazing, I think you just made his day,” he congratulates her as she returns to the table, and then continues to film the man eating as they both watch him through the window like some sort of zoo exhibit.

“How does that make you feel?” dad asks, because when it comes to teaching your child about charity, creating one’s own warm inner glow is definitely the most important lesson to be learned.

Then, with a stunning lack of self-awareness, they congratulate themselves with a fist bump.

With all the elements of a cloying Christmas telemovie it’s probably no surprise the video went viral, being shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and making news websites and TV news bulletins all over the world.

Any act of charity is to be encouraged, but there’s something dreadfully icky about people advertising their good deeds on social media.

In this case, what was undoubtedly a pure and kind act of selflessness by that little girl was tainted by dad as soon as he hit “record” on his camera phone and began commentating it like some sort of charity sporting event, turning it into a video homage to his own great parenting.

Then it turned completely sour when he uploaded it to Facebook with the message “For licensing inquiries please contact Jukin Media” – a company that distributes “user-generated entertainment” to news outlets like CNN, BBC, NBC and MTV.

“We pay more to viral video creators than any other company in the world,” Jukin boasts on its website.

I wonder how much money has rolled in for these two while the homeless man they’ve presumably forgotten about has gone back to his life, whatever it was.

Not to mention the media companies who all profit in some way from sharing this viral content.

There are thousands of glowing headlines about the gorgeous, kind-hearted girl and her amazing father, but who knows what happened to the man at the centre of it all?

More importantly, who cares? Social media fuelled charity porn is not concerned with such things, and neither are the dewy-eyed Facebook users sniffling into their Kleenex as they click the “like” button.

At a time of year that is supposed to be about charity and giving, social media show offs like this are seriously distasteful, like lumpy custard on your Christmas pud.

If you’re really concerned about feeding the homeless, donate to one of the many groups and organisations that work on the frontline like the Hutt Street Centre, Catherine House or Rufus.

Better yet, sign up as a volunteer with Oz Harvest or St Vincent De Paul’s “Fred’s Van”, which provides meals to the homeless across Adelaide, Port Lincoln and Port Pirie every day.

If only those guys made international headlines every time they fed a homeless person, maybe we could actually fix the problem.


First published in The Advertiser on December 6, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.