Monday, 29 June 2009

Am I talking to a real person?

I love Twitter. I have met several lovely people i the Twitter Universe that I would gladly have a coffee with (I am teetotal). I apologise for mentioning Twitter on several occasions lately but I am so drawn to the daily rhythms of life as seen through 140 characters.

There is one thing that I am not so fond of, the DM. As I said in last nights post I have decided to follow everyone who follows me. I do not care what you are pitching I will follow you. I do not care what your politics or religion is, I will follow you. I believe that there is good in all people although you have to look harder in some than others.

I do not think that when I follow someone, it is necessary for them to send me an automated DM saying thanks for the follow etc. Some are cleverer than others and really appear to be talking to me although they are not. I know this for a fact because I have started to reply to each and every one as follows.

Please prove this isn't an automated reply! Give me an example of kindness to publish at

I am waiting with baited breath for the first one!

I don't think there is anything wrong with thanking someone for following you if it is really done on a 1:1 basis, welcoming a dialogue but I want to follow a person, not a robot. The thing is the DM should really be used to communicate in the real world and I fear that all the automated DMs just make the recipients bin the lot without considering that some might actually be for real.

SO If you are also subject to automated DMs PLEASE can you insert my text above and lets just see who is real in cyberspace and who is not. I will pass on all real messages I get back, I promise.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Maverick Woman

Following on from yesterday's post I entered today with a feeling that I can only describe as euphoria. Its that feeling when a million things go through your mind at the same time, all positive, sending many waves of back-of-the-neck shivers.

Today I decided to post yet another "looking for an example of kindness " Tweet. I must have sent 30 of these messages out into the Twitter universe and received one example of kindness back. This is despite several of the Tweeters who I communicate with on a daily basis re-tweeting this for me. In fact I had not received any communication from anyone other than people I regularly speak to.

I knew today would be different. Sometimes when the back of my neck is tingling I truly believe anything can happen. Lo and behold, shortly after posting the tweet I received a message from Maverick Woman who has 2,500 followers and is following 2,700 people.

My followers, this post touched me. I recommend take a look at @byyanto: and his quest for kindness - also @crazycolumbian

Now I follow over 600 people and its hard to take stock of all the tweets I get so I hesitate to imagine how many messages she must get. I was genuinely moved that someone like her would contact me. Anyway, I replied as I always do thinking that was that but she didn't stop there. Over the course of the next 3 hours she sent out 7 further tweets in various forms to try and encourage her followers to help. I was so grateful to receive help from a networking professional who got where I was coming from. In my world it is great to open the door but to stride right through and sit at the table is more than I would expect from a first contact.

I guess that my original mental block with marketeers and networkers was very wrong. What I should have realised was that the skills that these people have, if coupled to my message would could be very powerful indeed. I look back on the cull of followers I conducted a few weeks back with regret. I am at best impulsive, judgemental and opinionated, just the right qualities for someone seeking examples of kindness! I am, however, learning daily.

Again I have been proved wrong but I'm kind of liking it. Again I am humbled by the help offerded to me by a stranger. I asked her for a quote for this piece and she said.

‘whenever you give kindness to someone else without expectation, the kharma circles back in the most unexpected ways’

When I started this blog, I expected to collect a number of experiences that people had and present them. Now I truly believe that if enough people can inspire kind actions from others, we can actually make a difference. I have started to be introduced to others that are thinking the same way as me. Maybe we can start something good together.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

I was wrong about kindness on Twitter.

I have been byyanto on Twitter for a few weeks or so and its has been an interesting ride to say the least. I was excited by the numbers of people that suddenly wanted to follow me. I agonised over what to tweet, wondering if it was entertaining or profound enough. In fact I got to about 360 followers before I came to the conclusion that in the case of many of my community I was really tweeting at them and not to them. It was also the same the other way around in that I was not really interested in tweets promising me business models and more followers. It was clear that I had no connection with a part of my supposed audience and I likewise with them. One night in a state of disappointment that people really weren't that interested in what I had to say, I purged my followers list.

I then received my act of kindness and that got me thinking that even marketeers and business gurus might have something worthwhile to contribute to an exploration of kindness. I therefore started following everyone who followed me and accepted the automatically generated DM which some follows generated with good humour.

I sat and read most of the tweets that I was presented with over a couple of days and realised that over 90% of tweets were again related to business and gaining followers which got me thinking. I had tweeted on several occasions asking for examples of kindness but had received only a single reply. That coupled with the usual content of the tweets I was receiving made me assume that kindness was not a topic that was entertained on Twitter.

In an epiphany moment I decided to do an anecdotal test using Hootsuite. I would send out a number of tweets proclaiming better business and more followers by following a link and also a similar number offering stories of kindness again following a link. I assumed from my experiences that the former would gain a greater click through rate than kindness.

I was very wrong. My business related tweets only generated 35% of the total number of click throughs I received. The ones offering examples of kindness were far more popular than I imagined. I assumed that I would get a similar split as the types of tweets I had been presented with but I was so very wrong.

Could it be that amongst all the deal propositioning that goes on that people are drawn to random unusual acts of kindness?

Although my study is by no means scientific it gives me the conviction that it is worthwhile collecting examples of the kindness we can give and receive. My faith in people is growing by the day and whilst Twitter seems to be a good forum for business, it is also the home of a whole lot more.

I do wonder therefore, why do I not get more examples from tweeters to post on this site?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The kindness of a stranger. By MT.

A couple of years ago, I had been really ill for a few weeks with a kidney infection. As I felt on the mend, I thought I'd walk to the supermarket and get some healthy food in to help me complete my recovery. It was a mistake - I still felt awful and, having done my shopping realised I was going to struggle to make it back. I hopped on the bus and got off round the corner from my house, feeling really faint and dizzy in the hot day. And then the bags started breaking. Shopping was falling out everywhere, it was a total nightmare and I thought about just sitting down on the pavement and having a cry.

Just then, a young guy pulled up next to me in his car and asked if I wanted a ride home. I accepted and explained that I only lived round the corner - about 20 seconds later we were there! I invited him for a coffee or asked if I could buy him a drink, but he said he had to shoot off. I was just so touched by the kindness and compassion of it.

When I told my friends they couldn't believe I'd just got into a car with a total stranger, and, in a way, I shouldn't have. But it's sad that the world has got to a point where we have to be so cynical about these things.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Greetings from Osaka

One thing I forgot to write about in the last entry is about the kindness of others here. On the train to get our hair cut, we were sitting across from and elderly woman wearing a facemask. Facemasks are a common sight here (Japan) as people wear them to either try to stop the spread of any disease they have (or have been in contact with), or to try to help them avoid a common illness going around. As we were leaving the train she tapped me on the arm and held out a mandarin and a biscuit. I couldn’t translate what she said well, but she was giving them to us as a gift. We were stunned and had absolutely no idea why, but this kind of generosity back home would have caused a lot of scepticism.

This piece is kindly donated by Darlo from and made possible by

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Submitted by RF from Los Angeles

My brother was sitting in his truck waiting for my sister to come out of the school she was teaching at. He rolled his windows down so he could catch some fresh air. He heard some wheezing sounds but ignored them. Then the wheezing turned to a grunt. He turned around ready to defend himself if it was an attacker grunting behind him. Instead, he saw a frail old man, grunting, trying to catch his breath. He was walking up the hill aided by his cane. My brother asked if he was okay. The old man told him yes and to leave him alone. So my brother complied and got back in his truck. While he was sitting in his car, he watched the old man take a few more steps, stop, catch his breath and cough uncontrollably. He couldn't stand the sight of him struggling so he got out of his car and asked the old man if needed a ride somewhere. The old man relented and finally accepted. My brother escorted the man to the passenger side of his truck and waited for him to get in. But he was so weak, he couldn't, so my brother carried him in the truck. He then proceeded to drive the man to his house about a mile up the hill. When they got there, my brother noticed that the front door of his house was wide open. My brother asked if he was expecting anyone. He said had an appointment with a home health nurse and that he always left his front door open so that he can get in his house right away. My brother told him to wait in the car so that he can go and check the house to make sure everything was secure. My brother then went up to this stranger's front door, poked his head in to make sure no one was there. When he was sure everything looked secure, he went back to the truck to help the man out. He carried him out of his truck and helped him to his front door. My brother did not leave until the nurse that the old man had an appointment with arrived. As he was getting in his truck, the nurse came running out of the house with a note from the old man. He thanked my brother for his kindness and $20 for his gas. My brother tried to return the money but he wouldn't take it. So my brother left and picked up my sister from the school. On their way home, my brother got hungry and stopped at a McDonald's. As he was getting out of the car, a woman and a child approached him asking for some quarters. He said he didn't have any and went in McDonald's to buy himself a hamburger. While waiting for his order, he noticed the pair asking each passerby for money. Using the $20 the old man had given him earlier, he bought the woman and her child a complete meal. With meals in hand, he walked up to the pair and gave them the food he had bought for them. The mother started crying and thanked him profusely. She told him she had just lost her job and their apartment a few days back. Their money had run out and she was desperate to feed her son so she has had to resort to begging for money. My brother wished them luck and went on his way. My brother has always been very kindhearted, so when he told us about his day, we couldn't get angry at him for exposing himself to danger a couple of times. What if the old man was acting and was actually a carjacker/murderer waiting to pounce on his victim? What if someone had been in the house? What if the woman was using her son to attract people to rob? My brother answered, "What if I didn't help when I had the chance? What if it was me who needed help? Would you just walk away? Why not make a difference when you can? Life is short and too valuable to disregard." What else can one say after hearing this?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

What would you have done?

Ethan is my wife's 18 year old son. I have watched him from the age of 8 and can say without hesitation that he has grown into a very decent young man. He has that air of being streetwise and yet naive at the same time. This is a trait that only young adults seems to have. Anyway it transpires that a few weeks back he was driving home in the early hours of Sunday morning when he encountered a man lying on the pavement. Ethan then did a number of things the I confess I would not. First. He stopped his car. Second. He got out of the car. Third. He approached the man and asked him if was ok. He was just very drunk apparently. Fourth. He offered to drive him home. Fifth. He did drive him home. I didn't occur to Ethan that a man lying drunk on the pavement may pose a threat to him. His instinct was, when he saw a person in trouble, to help. I guess the world would be in safe hands if the next generation all thought and behaved as Ethan but I guess it just doesn't work like that. I can't criticise him for his act of kindness but at the same time because I am older and corrupt of spirit, I cannot condone him either. Oh by the way, when they arrived at the mans house he handed Ethan a £50 note as a thankyou.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Is it still kindness if it pisses you off?

This is a question which did not even cross my mind until my journey into kindness began one week ago to the day. Case in point today we picked the kids up after school and drove 50 miles to Birmingham where all three were due at a casting. It was past five o' clock by the time we set off for home. The kids were tired and hungry. Alas the traffic on the M6 was typically rush hour and the going was not rapid. Stop start traffic winds me up and my overall state of mind was poor getting poorer. Sometime later we reached near home and as the children had been eerily good, we bowed to their wishes and detoured to the local McDonalds drive through for a heap of Happy Meals. After placing our order we moved from the first window to the second. The order was taking some time to compile but to be honest I was in a semi-daze and didn't really notice, when I was interrupted by the man in the car behind sounding his horn and making mad waving arm gestures at me. I presumed he was pissed off that we were taking so long so I ignored him. I concluded that I had every right to stay exactly where I was and I was not for moving. I then spied him open his door and come towards me. The nature of drive through etiquette dictates that the drivers window is open so I assumed that I was going to have some kind of face off and to be fair I was prepared. He reached my window and I was ready. He looked in and said "Sorry to bother you but I wanted to let you know that your rear brake light on the drivers side is not working." I looked at him, kind of nodded and looked away. He the walked back to his car and got back in. The overriding words going through my head were PISS and OFF. The order finally arrived and was distributed and we drove the short distance home. After the kids went to bed, my thoughts turned to musings on kindness when I suddenly conceded that Drive-Through-Man might actually have been trying to engage in an act of kindness. I suppose the repercussions of not having a working brake light were worse than if they were both working. I suppose that he had nothing to gain from telling me that it wasn't working and he was only trying to help. I suppose that because I was a bit wound up from the journey, I thought he was just trying to gain smug points at my expense, all of which leads me full circle to my opening question. Is it still kindness if it pisses you off?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A lesser form of love?

I was going to write a piece about how I am always touched by the beautiful gestures made by my wife and children and how this was an example of kindness at home. I then got wrapped up in a debate with I as to whether it was love or kindness or both. I guess if it is within your family it has to be actions born out of love which in turn could be construed as kindness. But then again how can it be kindness if these gestures are what you would expect to deal and be dealt in relationships of mutual love? I never considered this and why should I? Maybe kindness is a lesser form of love given to those who do not expect it.

Am I surprised that I have not received any stories of kindness from my friends and my Twitter postings? The answer is I really don't know. My sister summed it up nicely when she said
"Wow, good story - i must admit if that happened to me i would be very sceptical about why a stranger would want to loan me his car - was it stolen , was he after something else?
So truly he was kind - which i must admit is a bit strange these days.
Trying to think of any acts of kindness that anyone has ever done for me or to anyone i know - can't think of anything at the moment - will of course let you know if i remember anything.
nice one!"

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The experience of kindness that starts my search

Barry Wootten was a man I was proud to call my friend. I had known him for nearly 20 years. We met when he was Advertisement Director of the Leicester Mercury and I was the Telesales Manager in the classified ads department. He constantly challenged me and was like a father figure. He died peacefully in his sleep on the 3rd June 2009. His funeral was set for the 11th June.

On the way to his funeral I decided that my car was disrespectfully dirty so I pulled into one of those hand car wash places about a mile away from the crematorium. I pulled into the cleaning bay and switched off my engine. I moved to the finishing bay and switched off my engine. When they had finished I went to set off but the car would not start. I had 15 minutes to go before the funeral. I asked the guys whether they could jump start me. They obliged but the car did not start. The realisation dawned that I was going to miss the funeral. Even if I abandoned my car and set off on foot there was no way I would make it in the time that was left. I didn't expect any sympathy from the car washers especially since they had to push my extremely heavy car out of the way but then guy who appeared to be in charge asked me whether I had fully comprehensive insurance. I replied yes and he immediately put his car keys in my hand and told me to take his car. I was completely stunned that this guy who I had never met was prepared to lend me his car. I arrived just in time. 90 minutes later I returned and thanked him again. I still could not believe that he had just given me his car to use. I said that I would very much like to give him some petrol money and handed him a £10 note. He refused to take my money. We had spoken earlier and I knew that business was very slow for him but even so he refused my money. For him it was the right thing to do.

His act of kindness released an optimism in me and made me consider that in this world a kind act can be every bit as shocking as a cruel one, maybe even more so. A couple of days later, having told everyone this story I realised that I wanted to seek out other stories of acts kindness from you to share on these pages. I hope that with your help we can fill this space with kindness..........