What's being deemed a "random act of kindness" by a TikTok creator wasn't taken that way by the recipient of said act, who says she feels exploited for her role in a video that's gone viral. The Guardian reports on the filmed stunt by Harrison Pawluk, which he uploaded in June on his @LifeofHarrison TikTok account. In the video, Pawluk approaches an older woman sitting in a mall food court and asks her to hold a bouquet of flowers while he dons his jacket. Then, after putting on the jacket, Pawluk simply says, "Have a lovely day," and walks away, leaving the confused woman holding the flowers. She doesn't look happy as Pawluk strolls off, and she lays the bouquet on the table before the video ends.
Pawluk posted the video after the encounter with the caption "I hope this made her day better," as well as the hashtags #foryou and #wholesome. The video has since been seen more than 59 million times and received 11.2 million likes. The woman, who has IDed herself only as Maree from Melbourne, Australia, confirms her unhappiness, however, to ABC Australia, telling the outlet she didn't appreciate being part of Pawluk's allegedly altruistic antics. "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," she says. She adds that when she noticed some other people standing a few feet away filming the whole thing, she asked if she was being recorded, and they answered, "No."
Later on, when she caught wind of the video going viral, she said she was upset by how it was being framed: basically, showing her as a supposedly weepy old woman in a "heartbreaking tale," according to one tabloid. "At first it was just a bit of a joke to me, but then I felt dehumanized," she says. "I feel like clickbait." Meanwhile, a statement from Pawluk's spokesperson says he'd felt inspired to start doing kind acts after witnessing homelessness in Los Angeles, and that he often "offers flowers and pays for complete strangers' groceries." "While cynics may claim it's for views, Harrison simply has a personal commitment to helping people feel more connected and trusting. ... He has only so far encountered gratitude," the rep notes, adding that if "someone" wants the video featuring Maree taken down, Pawluk will be more than happy to oblige—if they email him. (Read more TikTok stories.)