We live in a day and age where you can actually make yourself. Though it has truly been like that since the beginning of time, in the here and now, if you have something viable to say or do, then you might be able to garner viewership. Even as I type this, I’m considering slipping on some yoga pants and teaching Zumba lessons on youtube. Problem is, that would likely result in a record amount of thumbs down. Heck, imagine if Facebook had a dislike button.
On a much more enjoyable note, meet Josh Paler Lin. Youtube sensation and author of the smash hit video ‘What happens when you give a homeless man $100 dollars?’ Josh has found a way to juxtapose his natural-born talent of pulling off well thought out laugh so hard you crack a rib pranks and even veering into a different direction towards his kind and personable demeanor to come up with that social experiment that all of us have wanted to see, but forgot about. Similar to scrolling through your phone contacts and noticing a friend’s number and realizing that you have been really meaning to call.
His social experiment video now has over 35 million views and is still growing. And for a good reason: The empathy and pure beauty of it all. Initially, Josh mentions that he wasn’t sure what was going to become of it, and was so glad that he could capture such a beautiful moment. Josh begins the video by approaching a homeless man down on his luck standing by the freeway entrance for a few bucks to eat. Soon thereafter, he is given $100 and followed for at least an hour, and what happens next is nothing short of inspiring.
Thomas, an individual that is down on his luck, had quit his job to take care of his stepfather who was ailing of cancer. Before he knew it, he passed away and within a matter of two weeks, his mother died of kidney failure. In a turn for the worst, the building complex where their condo was located ended up being sold which ultimately rendered Thomas homeless. After spending time with Thomas and getting to know who he was and what he was all about over many meals, Josh soon set up an Indiegogo.com page which more than surpassed the funds that he asked for to help get Thomas back on his feet. By the end of the campaign, over $146,000 had been raised strictly to aid in helping him to find a place to live and find a job and simply survive in the meantime.
And this is a very good thing. Josh is more concerned about the human connection and personal satisfaction of an individual in need rather than purchasing a white Siberian tiger for his back yard so that he can occasionally pet the exotic kitten with steel gloves on. No. He’s not even renting out Camelot castle in North Cornwall, England and trying to re-enact King Arthur and the knights of the round table with his cohorts. Humanity is something he tells me he has a real passion for without any reservations.
An hour after hour had been spent by Josh just trying to track down Thomas’ birth certificate and social security card. Though the public eye didn’t see it at the time, Mr. Lin was hard at work trying to recover the necessary documentation needed for Thomas to get rolling in life again. Sleepless nights were the rule. A nap was a treat. Emails to me from Josh about the process and its progressions and the many setbacks. Plenty of days came and went all the while he envisioned what was to come for this homeless individual that shared that small wealth of one hundred dollars with others in his same situation. Well, maybe, this is what can happen when you pay it forward without expecting anything in return.
Josh Paler Lin did not start out straight shooting into the realm of social experimentation, however. Rather, he is a crossover from the massively popular prank video community on youtube. Take a look at some of Josh’s pranks that had come before his social experiment with Thomas: Right around the world cup he posed as Neymar, also known as the Brazilian soccer superstar, and he brought his ‘security’ along. Josh, posing as Neymar, and he bears quite the resemblance, walks the streets of Southern California and explains to every woman possible that he is indeed a Brazilian soccer superstar, and proceeded to ask for phone numbers…And suddenly, he now has an incredible amount of female attention and likely a whole lot of explaining to do at the dinner table… or movie theater…or future in law’s house.
During a conversation with Josh, he let me know that his biggest goal was to put a smile on your face right now while citing Jim Carrey as his major inspiration growing up. Curious, I wanted to know just how far Josh was willing to take a prank. “I usually keep my jokes within the 18-30ish age group, as long as I can sense that they can get it. On the social experiment side of things, I have really learned how important it is to not judge someone by how they look and I hope everyone else that has seen my video has learned something about that too.”
Another thought that I had in light of all this are the parallels I am able to find between Mr. Lin and Jim Carrey, his biggest influence. If Jim Carrey were of the millennial generation, I guarantee he would be reaching out to social media via youtube in the same way that Josh Paler Lin is going about it all. They both share the same genres of comedy: Observational comedy, physical comedy, surreal humor. They also both share the same knack for branching out and away from comedy and into more serious entities if need be. The only difference would be the level of improvisation that happens when you are filming in the general public. You never know just what’s going to happen, just like meeting Thomas and changing his world.
If you find the desire to do good for someone today, think about Josh’s video. Does someone you know potentially need a little more pep in their step? Then view this social experiment that had people all over the world smiling from ear to ear. What will you do for someone in need? And just when you thought you had heard it enough from your mother growing up, I’m going to have to say it once more after all: It is better to give than to receive. Thanks a lot, mom!
See Thomas’ life-changing in motion www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sokn1Unyxko
Josh Paler Lin’s youtube channel is www.youtube.com/user/JoshPalerLin