The kindness outbreak

In a time of self-isolation and social distancing, an international campaign is trying to create a stronger sense of online community.

#KindnessPandemic banner.

The Kindness Pandemic is a project run locally through Facebook groups and has attracted over 600,000 members worldwide.  

The campaign uses the hashtag #TheKindnessPandemic to promote acts of selflessness and support for people struggling with the effects of Covid-19.

Founder and director Dr Catherine Barrett says the local groups work to encourage their members to take action in creating goodwill amidst this unprecedented crisis.

“We’re not calling for people to feel kind, we are calling for people to undertake acts of kindness, this is about action,” she says.

“There is a particular kind of kindness we are talking about here, we’re talking about intersectional kindness, kindness for people who are oppressed and marginalised and people who are on the frontlines as well.”

Across social media people have begun posting images showcasing their positive contributions to the community, specifically in supporting frontline health and essential workers.

The Kindness Pandemic’s latest campaign, #ThankAPostie is designed to encourage people to put signs of gratitude on their mailboxes for their local posties to see.

Founder of the Perth Kindness Pandemic Facebook group Natasha Hughes says throughout this time of turmoil it’s important to remember the human spirit.

“You have to balance out the good and the bad, you can’t always have the news or negativity going through your head, you really need to look after yourself,” she says.

“Some people go on the page just to improve their mental wellbeing, they get on the page, they scroll through just to feel that it’s all okay, and that’s a really important contribution.”

#ThankAPostie handmade signs. Photo: Isabel Vieira.

In the past month there has been an array of social media trends and campaigns in response to Covid-19, such as the #StayHome movement on Instagram.

Public Relations expert Veronica Lawrance says the increased use of social media in a global crisis will continue to grow.

“My fear is that fake news is easier to spread as people are more vulnerable and could be wrongly advised, we need to ensure people know where to find the right information from the right sources.”

Ms Lawrance says if these campaigns keep the communities positive and focused then she believes they are effective.

“Social media is connecting people and allowing more interaction with communities to foster a sense of well-being… everyone wants to feel needed or wanted, as well as being part of something bigger.

“Quite surprisingly boredom and isolation have sparked the need for people to communicate in more ways than before.” she says.

The Kindness Pandemic campaign also works to provide accurate health information to the public.

The backstory to the #ThankAPostie campagin.

Dr Barrett says through the #ThankAPostie campaign Australia Post advises the public not to make physical contact with their postmen.

“Many people have great affection for their postie, but the posties need to practice social distancing,” she says.

“Put the note on your letter box, take a photograph of it and share it on social media but keep your distance.”

Get involved by using the hashtags #KindnessPandemic and #ThankAPostie when sharing your acts of kindness across social media.