Kindness influencer Zachery Dereniowski has gone viral in Bali this week after he posted two videos of ‘random acts of kindness’ for two local people. Dereniowski who goes by the MDMotivator on Instagram surprised two local people with millions of Indonesian Rupiah after they selflessly offered their help.
Dereniowski’s mission is ‘trying to make kindness cool’ he posts dozens of videos a week and has amassed over 1.8 million followers on Instagram alone.
His premise is simple, his camera crew is set up out of sight and he approaches a member of the public and asks for help. It’s almost always the case that he asks the unsuspecting stranger for financial help, claiming that he has no money to pay for something important.
The strangers then offer their support and often say don’t worry about the money. This is when Dereniowski reveals that the situation is a setup and surprises the kind stranger with hundreds of dollars for their generosity.
Dereniowski is currently in Bali and has posted two separate videos of his actions. In the first video, he can be seen hobbling into a beachside cafe claiming to have sprained his ankle. Ni Wayan Terna, known locally as Ibu Oka, the owner of the cafe comes over to him, helps him elevate his foot, massages his ankle, and offers him a drink.
Suddenly Dereniowski stands up and hops on his ‘hurt’ ankle. He hands over IDR 5 million to Ibu Oka and says ‘for you…because you were going to help me’. Ibu Oka looks shocked and thanks him. She said ‘I’m crying but I’m not sad, I’m happy’.
Ibu Oka’s husband told local reporters of his shock that his wife was rewarded for her kindness. He said ‘At that time, I was cooking and my wife was handling the guest. He said his leg hurt, he was helped and said he had no money and was given a drink, and then my wife gave him permission [to take the drink]. Because he said he had an ankle accident’.
Terna continues to say that he didn’t know that the video had gone viral, nor did he or his wife realize they were being recorded. ‘I think just ordinary photos’. He said that he and his wife feel grateful for the unexpected financial support.
He shared their struggle because of the impact of covid. ‘Incidentally, the guests are quiet during Covid-19, so they can make sales needs. Because during Covid-19 it’s quiet. I sell food and drink’. He said how he believed that people should be helped when they are in need, with no strings attached.
In a second video, Dereniowski asks a man called Sumerta to help him learn to dance. In return for his help, Dereniowski gives him IDR 10 million to which Sumerta is overwhelmed. The comments in both posts are largely supportive and thank Dereniowski for his efforts.
While others are more critical of Dereniowski’s motives. Influencers who record premeditated ‘random acts of kindness’ are often criticized for having savior complexes and for having motives other than just spreading kindness. Dereniowski is in Bali as part of the promotional campaign for Jason Derulo’s live concert on the island.
Many argue that kinds of acts shouldn’t be shouted about nor should they be as set up as they are in these kinds of videos, and that the recording and posting devalue the act itself. On the video on commenter wrote ‘that he doesn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart. He does it for clicks and clout’.
In another similar viral video, recorded by TikTok influencer Harrison Pawluk, a woman can be seen sitting alone in a shopping center in Melbourne and receives a bunch of flowers. Pawluk walks up to the woman, Maree, and acts her to hold the flowers while he ties his shoe laces. He bends down, pretends to tie his laces, and walks off.
Pawluk posted the video online and it gathered massive attention. Maree has since spoken out about how the video was recorded and shared without her consent and that she felt dehumanized by the whole scenario.
It is not known whether Dereniowski made his online celebrity status and huge following known to Ibu Oka and Sumerta or sought their permission to share after recording the videos and posting them online.
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