News media is relentless. There must be hundreds of news TV channels out there, all of them pumping out stories, 24 hours a day. And that’s before we get to the internet, which is, in itself, a kind of always-on news service, delivering updates from all over the world, 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s plenty to celebrate about this - perhaps we’re more connected, less foreign to each other, than ever before. Appeals for help travel far and wide, and charitable contributions to distant crises often come from the other side of the world, by people moved by news stories that, just a few years ago, they might never have seen.
But maybe there’s also a downside. News, after all, tends to focus on the negative. The proportion of human behavior that is shocking or harrowing gets pushed into the frame, because that’s what attracts people’s attention. The combination of blanket coverage and a negative bias can lead you feel like there isn’t much kindness out there. But, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just a question of looking hard enough. So, please, imagine us shuffling papers as we present to you: The Kinder News from around the world.
1. Odin’s birthday goes down a storm
Last week in Canada it was Odin’s birthday. He’s autistic and struggles with socialising and bullying. No one had RSVP’d to his 13th birthday, until his mother’s post on an Ontario moms’ network went viral . In the event Odin received gifts and cards from people all over the world, and his party, at a local bowling alley, was attended by thousands. Tweets from celebrities including Elijah Wood and Carrie Underwood helped to fan the flames.
2. Boy’s surgery is funded in less than an hour
Matt Diaz has undergone an epic and determined weight-loss programme that’s seen him shed more than 15 stone (220lb) over the course of six years. Unfortunately his dramatic weight-loss had left him with an excess of loose skin. In a candid video he spoke about his body, and his need for surgery. His GoFundMe target of $20,000 (£12,000) was met in less than an hour.
3. Stars pull out the stops for local video
The host of ABC’s late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel is well-known for his online pranks. For this year’s SXSW conference he really pulled out all the stops, enlisting a, somewhat-famous, local actor to help advertise Vulcan Video, a shop that, against all the odds, still stocks VHS. The videos are heart-warmingly amateurish.
4. A girl with a gift for kindness
Meanwhile, in Washington, a girl has performed 600 random acts of kindness in honour of her late grandmother. Alex McKelvey thought of the idea in 2013 after losing her grandmother, Linda, and set out to complete 60 random acts of kindness by March 22, 2014, when her grandmother would have been celebrating her 60th birthday. But she’s enjoyed the experience so much, she decided to continue the project all the way to March 22, 2015.