Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Kindness Project: The Kindness of Strangers

 About The Kindness Project
Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good.  But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole . It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.

The other day my friend Liz told me about the Kindness Project, and it seemed like the universe answering a question I hadn't yet asked out loud. I knew I had to join.

Because lately I've been thinking about how even small things make a big difference. On the Internet, it's really easy to forget how many people you come in contact with every day. I don't usually think about how my actions affect other people, but I've certainly noticed how other people's actions affect mine.

For example, I read The Bloggess's blog and bought her book. It's funny and sad and awesome. You should read it. I follow her on Twitter, and occasionally reply to her tweets. A few weeks ago, she started to follow me. I was blown away. One of my writing heroes was following little old me on Twitter.

Then just Sunday, I posted a comment on James Scott Bell's blog asking about writing a road trip novel. He very kindly replied within a few hours, despite his ridiculously busy schedule. I've been through Plot and Structure so many times I've had to buy a second copy, and my copy of Conflict and Suspense is already showing the love. It meant a lot to me, that another one of my personal heroes took the time to reply to my question.

These are just two very small examples of how a small thing can have a big impact. I am sure both The Bloggess and Mr. Bell see themselves as regular people going through their daily motions. I'm sure they didn't know how highly I think of them, considering I try to keep my Internet stalking to a bare minimum. But that small gesture completely made my day. 

I've got to be honest here. Most of the time I don't consider my Internet dealings as a big deal. I am just a tiny, tiny fish in a very big ocean. I send out my tweets and posts because I enjoy doing those things, but I assume that they're going to be largely unread. When I read a blog post, and see that fifteen people have already commented, I think my own comment isn't that important. 

But I'm wrong.

When people leave comments on my posts, it makes me inordinately happy, so why wouldn't the reciprocal be true? It does matter, and for me to assume that it doesn't...well, that's just sad when I really think about it. Words and actions have power, and mine are no different. In fact, part of the reason why I am a writer is because I believe words have power.

From now on I'm going to be more mindful of my actions, and I hope you will too. You never know what something might mean to another person, and after all, isn't that why we're on the Internet? To make a connection?

Please check out the other wonderful people in this blog chain and spread the word. 


  1. Well said. I find that I'm also hesitant to make a comment on a post that already has a ton of comments. I'm busy all the time and I have a hard time keeping up with blogs (especially this week, they've locked me in a closet and told me to finish my dissertation), but you really have a point. I'll have to think more about how I respond.

  2. Welcome to the Project :) And I think you really nailed it on the head: Being mindful of our actions--and our WORDS--can make an impact, large or small.

  3. Yes yes yes! Words and actions do have power--and YOURS ARE NO DIFFERENT. How easily we forget this sometimes.

    So glad to have you join. It's a small act of kindness that impacts all of us, myself included. Liz speaks very highly of you, so it's a special honor.

  4. Great point. Lately I've been cutting back on blogging as I've been deep in the revision cave, but I do miss the interaction. I value every comment - so why wouldn't everyone else?

  5. I tend to think the same thing about my blog comments, tweets, etc...that no one reads them and they really don't matter. I don't know why I discount myself so, but I guess it's just in my nature. Thanks for the reminder that if what we say or do helps even one person or makes their day, it was worthwhile.

  6. I go through this, too, thinking my comments are really just a raindrop in an ocean, but I know you're right--they are more than that. So glad you're joining in!

  7. That's so true - we never know the effect a small kindness can have on someone else. How exciting to get a response from people you admire.

  8. Welcome to the Kindness Project. :) You are so right, every comment, every word, every connection matters.


  9. Rena: I know, I have a hard time too. But I figure I can at least make an effort. No one is perfect. :D

    Sara: Thanks! It's good to be here!

    Carol: Thanks! She speaks very highly of you too, so I knew I had to join! :D

    Melodie: that's what I thought. It's not like after X comments I think, "Oh, that's plenty" so why would anyone else? Good luck with revisions!

    Michele: Even if they only matter to one other person, I think that's important. I am going to try hard to remember that.

    Sarah: Thanks! It's great to meet all of you!

    Claire: :D I know.

    Lola: Thanks! *hugs back*

  10. Lovely sentiment, and you are so right. My MG book club did this art project based on one of MT Anderson's books and then I blogged about it. Then he commented on the post. You would not believe how excited the kids were about it (and I was too!). I think it says a lot about kindness when someone bothers to be normal and approachable in that way. YAY for cool people on the interwebs.

  11. Yes, definitely! Whenever an author takes the time to tweet me back I go all fangirl on my side of the Internet. Even in real life, little things make a difference. When I'm running late and someone holds the elevator for me, I have to restrain myself from giving a giant bear hug.

    Glad you've joined in!