Where are the days where good deeds were their own reward? This dad wants them back and the attention seeking to end.
“Thank you to Missy Jones-Flores, Betty Blue and Leslie Holler for serving as chairs of our annual Teachers’ Tea and Tasting. What would tea be without these three ladies and their tea-bagging skills?”
“Kudos to Mark Mack, Mary Mack and the entire Mack family for providing bales of hay for our sugar, nut and gluten-free Halloween fundraiser. All we can say is “Hey!”
“Much appreciation to the hardworking moms and dads of our Left is the New Right after-school club who make sure every “left-handed kid” is never left behind. Right on!”
And so it goes — on and on and on. The endless roll call of recognition, to reward everyone, and anyone who has been there — doing this, that and everything in between. Acknowledging the perpetually cheery volunteers who give their all to many, and ask nothing in return — except the correct spelling of their names in the weekly PTA newsletter or local town paper.
From the school hallways to the town’s social media sites, every moment is a big, wet public “thank you” to the minions of moms and dads giving, and giving back. But I wonder — with appreciation, must there be reciprocation? Why is no good deed left unannounced? No donation of time or money not detailed or discussed? No inscribed stone on the path to the library left unturned?
They say it’s better to “give than to receive,” but I wonder if that is true in our not-so-real reality world. Today’s celebrities stand up for cancer and suddenly Billy Bush and Entertainment Tonight are praising their names from coast to coast. A virtual Twitter fest flaunting one’s altruistic public persona. I mean — why do good if it does your public persona no good?
If a celebrity get kudos for being kind to those less fortunate, then shouldn’t the regular folk in the ‘burbs also post pictures of tag sale piles for charity or the hometown hoedown for the homeless? It’s a Facebook free-for-all. Who doesn’t want their 15 minutes of Web-fueled fame, especially with family and friends just one post away?
Every time I watch an awards show, I can’t believe the number of people thanked in a single speech. Hairdressers, make-up artists and agents receive the same heartfelt, publicist-written hosannas as parents and children. Colleagues and competitors robotically jump to their well-clad feet to thank the winner for being so humble, so human. It’s an American horror show of exaltation and adoration played out for the masses.
And our kids know it. When mom gets in the town’s paper for organizing a charitable spin-a-thon and some athlete gets millions of hits for showing up with his model girlfriend at a charity fashion show, then why shouldn’t every child’s lemonade stand get their name and picture on the local news? It’s Dick and Jane meet quid pro quo.
As parents, we try to teach our kids to be polite and gracious — to hopefully see the world beyond their own street sign. But with today’s world just a touch away from their tiny little hands, they see and hear it all, all the time. Reading, writing and arithmetic has been replaced by me, myself and I. Vine stars are the new Bert and Ernie.
This summer, we experienced the ultimate in charitable self-aggrandizement. The vast computer-generated sea of ice-bucket challenges brought to us courtesy of YouTube and the utility companies. Imagine the possibilities for exposure? If my favorite celebrity can remain “chill” and brave the sparkling cold water and live to publicize it, why shouldn’t I?
So the Jack-and-Jill generation ran up the hill to fetch a pail of water to dump on their curly-top heads. And then down they came Tumblr-ing, Instagramming and Snapchatting. All about their herculean efforts in the name of charity and the greater good. If Iron Man and next Batman can do it, so can we! Look how good and charitable we are — just like our Hollywood superheroes!
In the suburbs, signing up sends a community-wide bat signal that you are ready for action, ready to be more than a face in the crowd. Some are happy to hide behind the mask and cloak their identities for the greater good. But most are eager to toss off their invisibility cloaks to shout loud and proud from the town halls of America: “I’m here. I share. Now show me how much you care.”
So I guess, no matter how it’s done or why it’s done, we have to give thanks to all those volunteers. I mean, who doesn’t love a school bake sale or a celebrity on ice?