Wanting to spread kindness through simple acts is a beautiful sentiment, and a contagious one. It inspires, it does good, it’s active, and it’s outside ourselves.
Kindness is an endless, fast growing resource, but isn’t complete if it remains kind thoughts that are never transformed into something real that has an impact on others.
We read here and there about acts of kindness ideas that are wonderful, but some take more time than we think we have, or we don’t have what is needed to actually apply these ideas.
But online acts of kindness can be done at any time from where you are! It’s easy and their impact is real, whether you see it or not.
I do them often, even at work when I take a break. If you have access to a computer, you can spread positivity and kindness very simply.
I think doing acts of kindness online is also important because it counteracts the negativity we sometimes see online in forums, in comments, people insulting each other, being intolerant and disrespectful. Then of course it’s important to not generalize, as the internet is also a place of wonderful connections, support, and even friendship between strangers. It’s full of knowledge and discoveries, and is a window to different ways of living, to inspirational people and heartwarming initiatives.
Observing and receiving all that is amazing of course, but to play a part in the kindness and humanity we want to witness around us is equally important.
Here are 7 ideas for online acts of kindness :
1. Send an email to organizations or brands you think do a good job
Giving positive feedback is important. Most of the reviews we see online are negative, sometimes because the product or service is not of value, but also often because people are more inspired by writing something negative when they’re not satisfied than writing something positive when they’re happy. And you don’t have to express something publicly either. I usually send emails just to express my gratitude for something this company or organization is doing, even for small things I appreciate. It matters.
I once wrote to an online translation website to thank them for making something useful and effective, and they were so touched they forwarded my email to their team members and said it was encouraging them to keep improving their service. Remember you’re making an actual person feel appreciated by doing so and push them to keep working towards better things, ideas, services, solutions. That’s the beauty of the kindness and positivity cycle.
2. Search for “suicide” on tumblr
Search on tumblr for blogs that mention suicide and send a private message to the bloggers you find who talk about hurting themselves (and unfortunately there are many), no matter how serious it may seem to you. If you don’t know what to say, just say that you care, that this person matters and that you would hug him/her if you could. You may never get a reply but I assure you that if your message is read (and the tumblr community does appreciate private messages), it will warm the heart of someone, make them feel valued.
People who think about suicide are struggling every day, and you, with five minutes of your time, can make that day a little better. Remember that no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.
3. Send an animated e-card to someone
Sending an e-card is a lovely gesture. It puts images and sounds on your words and even though it only takes you the selection of an e-card your friend would like, it’s meaningful. It just makes people happy! Kindness isn’t about changing people’s lives with one action (although that does happen), but creating moments of selfless human connections for others. Even small acts of kindness generate a positive ripple effect.
“Helping” someone can also be doing something simple that says, “I recognize that you are here, and you are important”. I personally use Ojolie to send e-cards to people I care about and who are far away or who I don’t get to talk to that often. I’m only mentioning Ojolie cards because they’re actually illustrated by hand and then animated, and are just absolutely wonderful.
4. Spend an hour on 7cups.com to listen to someone who needs to talk
7cups is an amazing online initiative that allows people to talk to a stranger when they feel alone, when they need to be actively listened to. It’s a very valuable use of your time online. Being an active listener takes a short online training that is fascinating and very well done. You learn to hear and not give advice, to actively help someone reflect on his or her feelings and work towards a solution or a clearer and more serene perspective on what they’re going through.
If you only have 20 minutes, it’s fine too. Making a difference in someone’s life is wonderful and is the best application of modern technology—connecting us, for real, no matter how isolated some may feel.
5. Reply to content you enjoy
This is similar to the first idea, but it’s more about changing our consumption of online content by taking a minute to say “thank you”, to share a constructive thought, etc. There are times when I’m reading a great article, and though I consider replying to it, I just move on because I (like most of us) am used to doing that, or I realize I need to create an account to do so, etc. But it’s actually worth the “effort” and the time.
Slowing down when browsing the internet or using social media and expressing gratitude for something you enjoyed or adding something positive and constructive to what is said, created, shared, is a valuable change, and it emphasizes the human side of our seemingly individualistic online behavior.
6. Join a forum and answer others’ questions
If there’s a topic you really enjoy and are good at (gardening, making model boats, drawing, raising lizards, etc), join a forum about it, spend some time regularly to find topics with questions that are still unanswered, and help by replying or redirecting to a relevant resource. Make the new members feel welcomed and supported. Online communities are wonderful. They make people feel less isolated and also more understood when they don’t know anybody in “real life” that shares their interest. I’m personally on a snail forum, as I’m raising some, and it’s amazing to talk to other people who have snails too!
7. Forward coupons you receive by email
It’s annoying at times to receive special offers by email, because we’re not always interested, or because we get so many that we don’t sort them out and just delete them, even for products or services we do use sometimes. But the thing is that while those coupons may be for a product you’re not interested in, maybe someone you know would benefit from it (be careful to not forward spam, of course).
If you receive a discount on business cards and know someone who’s starting their own business or just got a new job, let them know about it. I don’t think we should frown on everything “commercial” that’s sent our way. We all receive a lot of these types of emails, but I think instead of only thinking of our own interest, or lack thereof, we should wonder for a moment if someone else would be interested.
Additionally, if you have special skills you can do even more acts of kindness! If you speak another language, you can volunteer to translate articles or subtitles for a website or a YouTube channel, for instance. If you’re a good reader, you can record books for the blind. If you know a city very well, you can give advice to travelers or expats.
Just think of what you’re good at and use some of your time to bring that knowledge to others.
There are many wonderful ways to practice kindness online, and it’s extremely rewarding too. It gives purpose to our lives and improves our happiness. It has also been proven to have a positive and real impact on our brain, our stress level, and our immune system!