Last week mobile phone mogul Masayoshi Son, who has a history of large donations, offered $500,000 through Softbank to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in North America and then tweeted about it. This act of philanthropy irked a Twitter user by the name of o44o.
Feeling that this was an act of blatant advertising through the use of a good deed, he decided to voice his opinion to Son.
Around midday on Nov 3, Son tweeted: “I would like to express sympathy for all the victims of the Hurricane Sandy disaster in North America. Softbank will donate $500,000 to the American Red Cross.”
About a day later, o44o responded saying: “Donations are usually done with good intentions. Announcing it is stupid as if you’re the only one in the world doing it. This donation is just commercial crap!”
Soon after, Son replied: “I’m just posting the various thoughts I have, but from now on I should probably refrain…”
o44o continued: “Various thoughts eh? LOL I know what’s going on. You’re trying to buy your way into the hearts and markets of America. LOL”
Although his decorum wasn’t firing on all cylinders, o44o struck at a fundamental belief in all of us that a good deed should go unspoken. All cultures seem to share the belief that talking about the money you donate is bad taste.
Especially when a business performs an act of altruism, our collective BS sensors tingle. Because of this, o44o gained support in his campaign with others tweeting remarks like “Your behavior until now has been nothing more than propaganda bullsh**t.”
That being said, it seems a large number of twitterers took a more pragmatic approach, thinking the ends justifies the means, whatever they truly were. Some also mentioned the shades of racism in negative comments due to Son’s Korean heritage.
Putting aside possible prejudices of race, fame and wealth, Son did break the unwritten social rule of not bragging about one’s own generosity, but maybe it’s time that rule gets broken.
Personally I like knowing what companies are donating to charitable causes, and it certainly influences where I spend my own money. Even if these heads of corporations are evil bastards only looking to profit or enter foreign markets, the victims get help and other people get inspired to also donate. Everyone benefits and no one loses.
So while o44o’s sentiments are appreciated there are far worse evils in the world for him to get indignant about, not someone giving away money.