The other day a friend of mine rhapsodized to acquaintances and followers about Christmas wishes and gave a gifting suggestion that might prove useful to some in this particularly tough holiday season: “Be kind to one another. We could all use more kindness, and best of all, it’s free!”
And I thought to myself: like, just give it away? In this economy?
As everyday life gets harder and this broken world keeps on downward spiraling, talented folks are no longer simply sharing what they do out of the goodness of their hearts for the betterment of all humankind. If they can perform a service or a creative act well, they want to get paid for it. If they’re lousy at it, they need to get paid for it anyway because even the mediocre require food and shelter, unless they can find someone to support their mooching or unless they’re willing to take a job they don’t like, which is now a crime in sixteen states.
Corporations have been role modeling this paradigm for centuries. Do a thing; get paid. With the advent of new technologies and shrewder forms of greed, some of the largest international conglomerates have realized selling their wares piecemeal, product by product, unit by unit by unit, is laborious and uses up too much inventory spreadsheet space. Charging recurring fees, on the other hand, is a smoother process that’s easier to automate, requires only a singular engagement at the beginning of the customer relationship, and keeps adding to the coffers long after the customer has forgotten they’re bankrolling them. What those corporations are providing for one seemingly low price can feel like an enormous catalog of merchandise going back 80-100 years, but only the most curious, discerning clients will dig deeply enough to realize 90% of that catalog is broken or worthless. Not that they’ll discontinue paying for it, mind you. Sure, it’s a ton of junk, but in such generous portions.
But why should we leave all that profiting to corporations? As has been legally established for the purposes of certain situations beneficial to rich execs, corporations are people. Therefore by the Symmetric Property of Equality, if corporations are people, then people are corporations. We have our own archives to give away for a price. We see that now in practice with some enterprising artists on Patreon opening their sketchbooks to diehard fans, smaller companies on Kickstarter and Indiegogo still plying the unit-by-unit method, and the needy on Gofundme, who have only their thanks and blessings and karmic points to give, which caters to particular clientele who collect intangible gratification as a hobby. It’s not just conforming to a gig economy; it’s living a gig life.
Hypothetically the infrastructure is in place to allow all people to be businesspeople, to the point where the term “businesspeople” might one day become redundant. Some users dream big and aim high, but I say they’re not thinking small enough. Some parts of ourselves aren’t being efficiently commoditized. How many pieces of our very soul are just lying around unused and unmonetized? What a waste.
Social media influencers are on the right track with their own simple business model: just look at me, and I get paid. That works well for the photogenic or for those who have beauticians on retainer to idealize their every everyday image for them. But the rest of us who look funny are at a disadvantage, unless we’re open to catering to specific kink markets. That’s an option for some, but I for one refuse to limit myself to a niche I can’t brag about to elderly relatives at family gatherings.
But as a lifelong introvert who sucks at networking and small talk, whose sole function at parties is to loiter in dark corners so they won’t get dusty, what do I have to offer moneyed strangers?
That’s when my friend’s suggestion gave me an idea. Kindness!
Kindness has low overhead. Kindness requires no paid staff. Kindness isn’t taxable yet. Kindness produces no carbon footprint. Kindness doesn’t require a college degree, a high school diploma, personal references, or documented proof that we’ve ever learned a single moral lesson from a sitcom. Anyone can be kind, but what do they get in return? Sometimes they get favors or blessings, but mostly they get more free kindness back at them, which they can then pass on to others for free. Sure, that’s uplifting to the human spirit and encourages a more benevolent and aspirational society, but nobody’s getting paid. Shared happy feels don’t buy nicer things. Good vibes are basically a form of communism.
That’s why I’m launching my all-new Kindness+ subscription service! For one low monthly fee I’ll display unto you certain qualities that resemble what it’s like for us to “all just get along”, as some broke people like to beg. Pay me to be me, but not the fickle hermit version of me. Depending on whether you know me online or in person, for the low price of just $4.99/month, the price of one latte or one fancy comic book per month, you’ll receive the following perks:
- I’ll follow one (1) of your social media accounts if it’s convenient to me!
- Limited access to my personal catalog of anecdotes, as long as they’re ones that make me look good!
- An authentic “Hi!”, “Hey!”, or “Howdy!” each time we meet in person, plus a wave!
- Fully attentive but silent listening to your anecdotes!
- Christmas cards and birthday cards, until the next time you move!
- A weekly compliment on one of your photos or posts!
- Unsolicited movie recommendations!
- If you mention blogs, I’ll admit I have one!
Not good enough, you say? Too bare-bones, perhaps? Wow, you’re awfully demanding. Okay, fine, then there’s also our all-newer Kindness+ Top BFF tier! For the less-low price of just $9.99/month you’ll receive all of the above perks, plus or upgraded to the following:
- I’ll follow your social media accounts on all apps I already belong to, plus one (1) extra app I don’t want!
- Unlimited hugs, if you promise you won’t sue!
- Advanced in-person greetings beyond just a “Hi!”, possibly from other cultures that I’ll have to Google and add to my repertoire!
- Full access to my entire catalog of 10,000+ anecdotes, including my biggest embarrassments and worst sins!
- Full attention AND verbal responses (at least six words long) to even your most pointless ramblings!
- One (1) Like per month for a conspiracy theory article you share with your friends, no matter how insane it or you might be!
- One (1) monthly personalized selfie actually taken myself, not one taken by my wife when I’m not looking!
- If you mention blogs, I’ll admit I have one AND send you the link!
- Eye contact!
“But Randy,” you ask me with this weird notion that we’re on a first-name basis, “Isn’t that kind of mean-spirited? Especially at Christmastime?” Keep asking me questions like that and I’ll double your fees. But sure, as a member of society that hasn’t quite crumbled into nonstop fiery bedlam even though it feels that way whenever I’m on Twitter too much, I have to exhibit some baseline positive qualities so that people won’t feel tempted to murder me on principle. You indignant cheapskates out there will remain automatically subscribed to my Kindness Zero tier. For the rock-bottom price of nothing per month, you’ll still be afforded the following effortless favors:
- Whenever we cross paths, I’ll smile without looking up!
- I’ll let you through doorways and off elevators first, just to avoid hassle, regardless of gender!
- I’ll use a turn signal before I cut you off in traffic!
- You get an occasional Like whenever something genuinely funny you wrote goes viral!
- Free pop-culture reference responses to your posts if I’m in the mood, unless I’m too tired to think of one!
- I’ll scroll past the memes you share without telling you how many times I’ve seen them before!
- I’ll continue my strict “No trolling” personal credo, probably!
…eh, that’s more than enough promises.
Don’t forget, Kindness+ makes a great last-minute Christmas gift! Literally so, considering I’m typing this on Christmas Eve! My kindness might be mediocre and in some cases insincere, but at least I have some! And at least with transactional kindness, you don’t have to be suspicious that I’m secretly expecting something in return, because I’m not: I’m flagrantly getting something in return! Because relationships are better without secrets! Whether or not money is involved!
Kindness+: Pay me to validate you today!