A popular TikToker has been criticized for filming a “sad” woman eating alone for a “random acts of kindness” video.
The “random acts of kindness” video, which has amassed over 18.6 million views on TikTok, has sparked a furious debate on when it’s appropriate to film and approach strangers for social media content.
Neenib Youkana, who has over 1.7 million followers on TikTok, filmed a woman eating by herself at a restaurant in what appears to be a shopping mall in the U.S.
The woman who is accompanied by her dog, sits with an empty plate at her table. The text layover on the viral video reads: “I saw this girl who looked sad eating alone so I did this…”
Her reaction was THE BEST one 🥺❤️
In the video, California-based influencer Youkana approaches a waiter at the restaurant and asks if he could pay for the woman’s meal.
“I see that girl down there sitting alone and I was wondering if I can, kind of, just pay for her meal,” Youkana asks the restaurant server.
‘Some Random Stranger Paid For Your Meal Today’
Filming from across the food court, Youkana captures the moment that the waiter approaches the woman and she learns that her meal has been paid for.
When the waiter tells her that “some random stranger” saw her sitting alone and took care of her lunch, the woman looks startled and asks: “Why? What?”
“It’s a random act of kindness, you’ve been chosen today,” the waiter tells her.
She responds with: “No, no, no. I want to know who.”
“I can’t tell you. He’s around in the mall. He don’t know you. It’s just super random,” the waiter answers.
The waiter tells the woman that she is “the lucky one today” and that he has another surprise for her — a bouquet of pink roses which Youkana chose to match the color of her dog’s leash.
The woman continues to look confounded by the gesture and tells the waiter that she needs to know who paid for her meal and sent the bouquet.
“How am I going to find out?” the dumfounded woman asks the waiter. But he simply replies: “You’ll never know.”
‘So Nice of You To Film Them’
In a caption accompanying the video, Youkana describes the woman’s reaction to his random act of kindness as “the best.”
However, thousands of viewers took to TikTok to disagree with him — saying it was intrusive and disingenuous to film a stranger in public for a purported act of kindness.
“I love knowing someone would film me while I was alone so they can show everyone what a good guy they are,” a TikTok user comments sarcastically.
Another viewer similarly writes: “So nice of you to film them.”
A further TikTok user asks: “So it’s a random act of kindness and the waiter has a microphone?”
Others said that the woman “seemed scared” by the gesture — and that it was misguided to believe that the woman was miserable because she was eating alone.
“My biggest fear is eating alone and someone filming me thinking I am a sad person,” a TikTok user says.
While another viewer said they would have been “creeped out” by “the thought of having someone stalking me and filming me” like this.
Random Acts of Kindness, or Not Kind At All?
In the U.S., it is legal to film or take photos of another person in public, as it is in most countries. It is expected that individuals realize that they are leaving the privacy of their homes, and they should not expect complete privacy from others.
However, there has been increasing debate over the ethics of popular random acts of kindness videos. PetaPixel previously reported on a woman who was left feeling “dehumanized” and like “clickbait” by the experience of appearing in a viral TikTok video with over 60 million views.