The surprising allure of generosity

By Caitlin Kelly

I’ve been hanging out on Twitter for a few years, but have never had a tweet go viral — more than 11,000 likes!!

This one did:

I recently got a NYT call for pitches, none of which worked for me at all — but was perfect for a friend, and one with a new book on that topic, now both soon to appear. This is what we all should be doing. It is rarely as zero-sum as everyone assumes. #freelance

I didn’t think much of posting this, as it’s nothing I haven’t said there many times before.

Maybe it was the “ooooooh!” allure of an elusive New York Times byline that caught people’s attention?

Maybe it’s just the luck of that fickle algorithm?

But it’s been really gratifying and satisfying to see it retweeted and liked and bookmarked.

At its best, Twitter can offer a bully pulpit.

It was nice when that specific writer outed herself in reply and thanked me but I was just happy to make that introduction; I know her and I know her work and I trust her to do work of NYT quality. I don’t just do it for anyone; referrals can wildly backfire if the person you refer is less than completely professional.

I recently signed up to be a mentor with Report for America, a program designed to encourage younger/newer journalists as they start their careers, some in small towns, others in larger markets. It’s a joy to be helpful.

I’ve also been really busy this week emailing fellow alumni of our Toronto high school to create a new annual award for a graduating senior for creativity, named in honor of a fellow student who was funny as hell and much beloved and whose later life was very much marked by severe mental illness, a terrible loss.

Three fellow alumni from our year, so far, have agreed to share the cost with me.

Thanks to the school’s guidance counselor, we’re figuring it out quickly and I hope to be up in Toronto June 28th to present the award with a fellow student, a dear friend of that student.

Without kids of my own or nieces or nephews to encourage, I feel it’s really important to encourage the latest generation…already so plagued with so many challenges like COVID and climate change as it is.

Our high school is still pretty upper middle class, but now more diverse racially and ethnically, and has some lower-income students — the $1,000 we will offer is still a nice amount.

4 thoughts on “The surprising allure of generosity

  1. Jan Jasper

    I try to do little things every day just to be nice to people. I notice a job well done and thank people. I find a way to compliment an employee in a public-facing job. I take an interest in what people are doing – I went out and chatted with my tree maintenance guy yesterday, I learned some things, and he seemed to enjoy talking with a customer. He said usually when he makes his rounds, customers aren’t home or don’t bother to come outside – except to complain about the company’s prices, which he, the guy with the spray can, has no control over. Imagine that being your only human contact of the day. There is one particularly good UPS driver in my neighborhood, unlike many delivery guys this man actually puts my packages where I’ve asked him to (hidden from porch pirates) – I hadn’t seen him in a while, so I actually ran down the street when I saw him, just to thank him for his diligence over the years. These are very small actions but I think about the amount of abuse that service workers take from the public, so these small actions are worth doing.

    1. It really matters!! We always offer the UPS guy and postman a can of cold seltzer or bottle of water. These are not easy jobs and many people look down on the people who do them. Which is gross.

  2. I so agree with the idea of passing positives on to the next generation as well as to anyone who warrants it, not matter their job or status.

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