After feeling “dehumanised” and “offended” by a “random act of kindness” video, a woman from Melbourne is encouraging people to “be aware.”
Harrison, a TikTok member, posted a video of himself last month approaching a woman who was enjoying coffee at a table. He asked her if she wouldn’t mind holding a bunch of flowers while he put on a coat, but he then left her holding the bouquet after walking away.
“I hope this made her day better,” said the remark next to the video, which received a tonne of positive feedback from users on TikTok, where it has now received more than 59 million views.
Numerous commenters praised Harrison for his deed, but it has since come to light that Maree, the woman in the video, was not as moved by the incident as many people had assumed.
The woman expressed her discomfort with the media attention she was receiving by telling ABC Radio Melbourne’s Virginia Trioli that she feels “dehumanised” as a result of the video’s widespread distribution.
Recalling the interaction she had with Harrison, Maree said: “A guy came up and asked very politely whether I’d hold these flowers for him, so I did. And, you know, I made a bit of chit chat about, you know, who was the lucky person, blah, blah. And anyway, he said, ‘Oh, someone very special’.
“And then he really just, you know, put his backpack on and his jacket on and just sort of strode off.”
Maree criticised outlets for finding stills of her from the video in which she was ‘supposedly crying’, saying it was ‘just a horrible expression’.
Setting the record straight, Maree said: “I just was quite offended. He interrupted my quiet time, filmed and uploaded a video without my consent, turning it into something it wasn’t, and I feel like he is making quite a lot of money through it.”
Following her experience, Maree believes people should ‘challenge’ the notion that such videos are ‘random acts of kindness’. She admitted she was surprised Harrison could legally film her without her permission, and added: “I don’t really even take it personally anymore, but I just think that other women, especially older women, should be aware that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.”
In response to Maree’s reaction, Harrison’s management said the 22-year-old was just trying to do something nice.
They told news.com.au: “He offers flowers and pays for complete strangers’ groceries, and while cynics may claim it’s for views, Harrison simply has a personal commitment to helping people feel more connected and trusting. His videos are filmed in public places and so technically do not require consent.
“Having said that, while he has only so far encountered gratitude, if someone is upset, then they should feel free to personally email him. He would not want something designed to spread love and compassion to cause anyone concern.”