False generosity is one of the most common and harmful types of hypocrisy. People do not do others a favor out of actual kindness; they do it for themselves. It is thus a classic, narcissistic trap: doing someone a favor by manipulating them with this.
There are psychologists who think that pure, selfless generosity is not really possible for us. According to them, we are not interconnected by real empathy. Likewise, most of us will also know that cooperation simply made our survival as a species possible.
Spurious generosity just exists in public. Some people are so kind and thoughtful because they want something in return. Politicians do it, some family members do it, and bosses do it to their employees because it improves their job performance. This so-called friendliness often lasts until the employee becomes ill or has to leave work urgently due to an emergency. Then the empathy for the aforementioned boss disappears like snow in the sun.
As you can see, there are several kinds of hidden intentions behind an apparently empathetic, supportive act. So pay attention! You may also be guilty of this yourself.
Spurious Generosity and a Narcissistic Society
Think of a parent who always gives all his attention to her children. But these children are older and no longer live at home. They try to set up a space for themselves and distance themselves from the pushy parent. The parent also knows that her children can handle living alone just fine. However, she gives them so much attention to make herself feel better and validated.
This isn’t weird or out of the ordinary at all. Maybe you’ve even seen it happen to others or it happened to you yourself (as a parent or as a child). However, the reality can be much more complicated if you look a little beyond your own family or families per se. A large part of our society practices false generosity.
Moreover, sociological research agrees that our world is starting to look more and more narcissistic. It is said that the “ me, me, me and the rest can suffocate ” generation is getting bigger and bigger. That can of course be very discouraging. Social media also fuels this all-encompassing need to let everyone hear that, “ Hey, here I am again! Look at me, follow me, empower everything I do! ”
How about celebrities who use social media to show their generosity? They support social causes, work for non-profit organizations… but often this is just about strengthening their good reputation. For example, they use spurious generosity to convince us of how good they are.
Let’s take Bill Gates as an example. By watching him, we can learn the difference between fake generosity and real empathy. Indeed, there was a period of time when many articles were published about the very richest and most famous people—and how they weren’t all that generous after all. Microsoft, the computer operating system, made tons of money and didn’t donate a dime to charities.
But after Bill and Melinda Gates got married, they set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation . This organization now donates more money to charities related to social problems, health and education than any other fund.
He must have found that it is extremely important to contribute to solutions for these problems. After all, that would also be good for the society in which he lives. This is an example that resembles real empathy. However, it may just as well be that his advisers whispered this to him because it would be good for Microsoft’s image.
Perhaps Bill Gates had reached a point where he felt he should donate his money so that he could feel good about himself. After all, the social recognition he would receive as a result is also satisfying. This, as you might have guessed, is spurious generosity.
The 3 Keys to False Generosity
Our world needs real empathy. Amin Maalouf is a well-known Franco-Lebanese author and an expert in social problems, discrimination and ethical conflict. He says that if we teach people to be empathetic from childhood, it will help people be more supportive of others and more generous. However, the dynamics that now prevail only lead our real ones toward more chaotic, harmful narcissism.
False generosity exists within this type of narcissism. It’s just one of several manifestations of a narcissistic personality, so it’s important to recognize it. Here are some of the main characteristics of spurious generosity:
- False or selfish charity from a position of power. Often this carries an underlying message, such as: “ I am above you. Like it or not, my generosity makes you dependent on me. Or: “ If you didn’t have me, you wouldn’t even be able to solve your own problems or survive at all. “
- Is done to maintain a good reputation.
- Manipulation, blackmail and emotional traps.
We are all important, unique and wonderful. However, remember that you have an obligation to other people. Never forget how to collaborate and collaborate with others. Also, always remember the value of practicing genuine, selfless empathy.