Ruben Navarrette: Some look for gloom even in feel-good stories, like that of Josh Romney's tweet
Romney tweeted picture of himself, saying he was first on scene of crash, helped victims
He was slammed online for "humblebragging"; Navarrette: Really? Helping a bad thing?
Navarrette: He sounds like a class act -- more than the haters deriding a good Samaritan
Editor’s Note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter @rubennavarrette.
Some people see a silver lining and go looking for a cloud. They just can’t feel good about the world they live in, even when they’re presented with a feel-good story. Instead of rejoicing in a positive development, they’re critical and cynical and mean.
You’ll find these folks in both political parties, and all across the ideological spectrum. This includes the left-leaning media and the liberal blogosphere, where they seem to have a tough time praising a Republican for doing something right.
And some on the right would probably say that about me. I’ve spent plenty of time in the last quarter century writing about things that Republicans do wrong.
But criticizing Republicans when they deserve it doesn’t stop me from giving credit where it’s due. So let’s give credit to Josh Romney, the 38-year-old son of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, who, police have confirmed, helped four people – a husband, wife, and two teenage sons – after a car crash in Holladay, Utah.
It all happened on Thanksgiving night. After dinner with his parents and family, Romney was driving home with his wife and children when, he told reporters, he saw a car speed by him and crash into the kitchen of a home. He rushed to the scene of the crash.
He said that he helped the four passengers out of the wreckage of the car and, police confirmed, he walked them to the front lawn so they could get medical attention. An adult male was in the basement of the home at the time, and he wasn’t injured. And the family wasn’t seriously injured. That’s good news.
Afterward, Romney went to Twitter – the modern-day town square – and tweeted about the experience. He included a photo of himself standing next to the wreckage. This being a photo, he was smiling. The tweet simply read:
“Was first on scene to big accident, see pic of car in the house. I lifted 4 people out to safety. All ok. Thankful. — Josh Romney (@joshromney).”
That’s it. Not exactly a victory lap, is it?
Yet, for his trouble, the hero of this story got hammered by the left and other Twitter users. “Why are you smiling like a tourist at such a horrific scene?” wrote Twitter user Laila Yuile in reaction to Romney’s tweet.
Others wrote that Romney’s post constituted a classic “humblebrag,” a kind of sneaky boast where someone uses 140 characters to show off without letting it show. We are told that some consider “humblebragging” to be an even worse breach of etiquette than plain ol’ generic bragging because it tends to be served up with a side of fake modesty.
#Seriously? This is what we’ve come to? We now go hunting for bad behavior, even when someone does a good deed. Is this sort of thing a result of boredom or poor manners?
ABC News Blogs reported that the term “humblebrag” was coined in 2011 by American comedian Harris Wittels. It noted the blowback this way:
“Josh Romney, Mitt Romney’s son, is drawing some flak after rescuing four people from a car crash on Thanksgiving. It wasn’t the act itself that sparked the ire of so many on social media, but rather the tweet he posted in the aftermath of his self-acknowledged heroism.”
United Press International reported this:
“Josh Romney says he helped rescue victims of a car crash in Utah, but now he’s getting grief for talking about it on Twitter.”
I admit that posing in front of wreckage from an auto accident is a little creepy. And, even in the age of Twitter, it should be possible to render aid to those who need it without feeling compelled to broadcast it all over the Internet.
And yet, it’s hard to detect any amount of gloating either in the text of Romney’s tweet, or in the statement he issued the day after the accident, part of which read:
“My family and I are grateful that no one was seriously injured and glad to have been able to help those affected by this terrible accident. What I did to help the people involved in the accident is what anyone else would do who witnessed such a potentially dangerous situation.”
This young man sounds like a class act. Which is more than I can say for those petty souls who, in this case, went out of their way to cast a good Samaritan in a bad light.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.