Lifetip 5: Climb on the soapbox

This lifetip is based on an idea Rutger Bregman spoke about in one of his podcast episodes, as were the previous four. It is motivated by his conviction that this is a time to be explicit and open about good deeds and ideology. We can go back to humility later. Right now we need to “be good out loud”.

The idea behind this, is that seeing others do good deeds is inspiring and contagious.

Charity & Public goods

There is a whole science behind understanding how and why people decide to do selfless things. Organizations that rely on donations and charity from the public can benefit greatly from these observations when applied to a fundraising campaign.

It has been observed that people’s decision making changes when confronted with different circumstances (such as time pressure or group dynamics). I find all of that super interesting, but it’s not really relevant for the point of this blog post, so I’m going to leave it at that. If you want to know more, this relatively short YouTube vid is a good place to start.

A 2004 Harvard research confirmed the idea behind this lifetip, revealing that seeing others making donations to a a charitable cause makes an individual more likely to do the same. Gentle encouragement from a family member or celebrity can also make a big difference.

Just be nice

An organization in the Netherlands that has put this message to the test is called SIRE. It’s sole mission is to make us better people through commercials and posters since 1967.

In 2019 it launched a campaign revolving around the hashtag “doeslief”. That word is a contraction of “doe eens lief”, which is basically the Dutch way of saying “just be nice”.

The videos and posters from this campaign showed statistics of unkindness, followed by nothing more than #doeslief (#Justbenice).

The image above shows three posters from the SIRE campaign #Doeslief, stating:

  • “146.571 vulgar tweets were sent in 2018 referencing cancer”
  • “Every year 8% of all public transport employees gets spat on”
  • “Cash register employee Myriam will be ignored by 30% of all customers today”

The campaign made many people chuckle at the time, but there’s no denying the phrase “Doeslief” did catch on. People say it to each other when they see a good deed being done or when there is need for one.

A follow up hashtag is now being used on social media, when an every day hero gets a shout out: #daslief. In correct Dutch that would be written as “Dat is lief”, meaning “That is nice”.

Claim the spotlight

So, don’t wait any longer. Claim your place in the spotlight.

Did you save a duckling from being run over? Tweet it!

Did you throw somebody else’s litter in the trashcan? Tell a colleague!

Did you wash your elderly neighbor’s windows? Take a pic and share it!

There is that danger of becoming an annoying and presumptious smartass. Just remind yourself that staying quiet and modest would mean the only ones talking would be the Drumpfs of this world.

So be nice, be generous, be a hero. And be explicit about it. #Daslief