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Now, the saying goes*, that there’s no such thing as a selfless deed. There’s no such thing as altruism. You just can’t do it, because you will always get some benefit from doing something nice. It might be monetary, a feeling of self worth, a promotion or even praise. Now whether you agree with this or not, does not matter. That is because I’m going to prove it does not exist by heaping loads of praise on myself for the rest of the post.
Today I did something nice, and it is not the first time in my life. It could even be the 4th time. I even remember just a few months ago when I passed a car spinning its wheels on ice at a junction, I went over and saved the day by slipping over and then watched on as another person nudge the car forward enough for it to drive off. Hero!
Even today I helped a lady onto the train with one of those bags on wheels*. I’m sure I’m not the only one with such tales of heroism.
Today I went out of my way to help my girlfriends friend. I headed across town to where she works to pick up her keys, and house sit while a gas person came to do something. I then went back to her work to give her the keys back. OK, it is not life changing, but it is helpful. I genuinely didn’t do it for any other reason than to be helpful, but when I got to her apartment there was €20, and freshly made cookies.
Suddenly it’s no longer altruistic.
I didn’t do it for the recompense, but if I accepted the reward it will look like I did. I already felt good for being helpful. Now I was thrown into this unexpected reward conundrum, what do I do?
Well I compromised.
I took the cookies and left the €20. Now I felt good for being helpful and good because I refused monetary payment, and I felt good because, well, cookies. That’s three feelings of goodness in one sitting. For a depressed person that’s a big dose of goodness. I don’t know what the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of goodness is, but I imagine it’s lower for a depressed person, and I certainly surpassed that today.
Here’s the thing, people often say ‘there’s no such thing as a selfless good deed’, which is often used as justification to rip someone off in some way i.e. I won’t help you for free because it’s not selfless anyway, so I may as well get paid. Even though payment is not essential or needed for any other reason than, well, greed. Obviously to a normal person with eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth, and most importantly – a brain, this is ludicrous.
Yes we do things and feel good about them – like I did today, but it is not the reason. It is an accidental consequence. Like when I ordered ‘No Strings Attached’ by NSync, and it came with a free sticker. Result. It is a bonus, but it is not the reason I did it. In fact there is no justifiable reason for anyone to do such a thing as buy an NSync CD. If anything that proves in and of itself that altruism exists. The only ones to benefit from that nice transaction was NSync.
So altruism doesn’t exist or maybe it does, but that’s OK. What is not OK though, is to use that as an excuse to be a bad person*. I’m in high spirits today, mainly due to the kindness of myself, which is a weird thing to say. But what happens now if I get addicted to kindness? I’ll be waiting around bus stops hoping old women fall over so I can help them up, or I’ll be pouring water all over junctions when it is about to get cold. It will be chaos and all because of kindness, what a sick, sick world we live in. I now finally see what kindness can do it, it can change a man. Beware of kindness*
*which I just made up
*is there a minimum age requirement to buy one of those?
*I literally have no idea if people do try and invert altruism for evil means, but facts don’t matter in 2017.
*Sarcasm, be nice to each other.