God loves a cheerful TikTok crowdfunder?
TikTok star Jimmy Darts creates content that can best be described as “stunts of cuteness.”
The 25-year-old gifted random women with flowers in parking lots, bought children’s toys from toy stores and partnered with a Southern California dealership to gift a car to a homeless man. shelter. The ideas and funding for his generosity come from his 4 million followers.
In several of his viral videos, Jimmy Darts approaches a stranger with a small request – say, help him pick out a gift for his mom at Walmart or let him cut the checkout line – and then, if they’re from. okay he will hand over $ 500 and thank them for their kindness. Or in the case of a lucky family at Christmas, $ 10,000 in cash.
Jimmy Darts, whose real name is Jimmy Kellogg, shows a daring in his videos that sometimes seems from another world. Would you go to a Rolex store and ask why everything is so cheap? Walk into a nail salon and ask for the longest nails possible? Correcting a stranger’s form at the gym?
Her sense of generosity stems from her faith and her desire to use her platform as a force for good.
“What [God] did for you on the cross is so radical, so savage, that it would be foolish to think that you could give, bless people, and that God would not provide, ”he told other former students from the Bethel School for Supernatural Ministry. “I like to do giving videos because if I’m going to film something… I wish it was centered around some good, clean fun, but to do it in a regal way.”
Earlier this year, Kellogg shared his testimonial and his channel’s story on the Chess journal Podcast.
He said that as a teenager he would film his own antics (like punching his face until it was covered in blood) to get noticed by the crowd. One evening, at a party in the woods, he punched a hole in a pair of Urban Outfitters Jesus socks. He feared his parents’ punishment and prayed for his socks.
“I throw them in my underwear drawer, wake up the next morning before my mom goes upstairs,” Kellogg says in the podcast, “and I’m not kidding, I pull the socks out of my drawer – no holes in it. “
He watched a video of Billy Graham, he accepted Jesus, and the rest was history – or, maybe, just the start of a different story.
After becoming a Christian, he erased his entire internet presence and quit making videos for several years. At the time, he said, he had around 18,000 subscribers on YouTube.
In the meantime, he attended the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, attended a conference on capitalism, learned how to start his own Amazon business to generate enough income to live on, and finally reappeared on YouTube and TikTok in 2020. .
“I felt liberated from God, I knew I didn’t have any idols, I knew my identity was secure,” he said.
Now his mission is to preach generosity: “Just start being generous in any way you can, and you will see crazy and awesome things happening,” he promises.
Kellogg’s clips start with him smiling and reading the challenge on camera and usually end with him dancing with the recipient of the money. These hit the emotional rhythms of the kind of heartwarming news segments that are shared by serious parents who want to see good news for once. (Indeed, outlets like Fox 10 News, indy100, and ET Online have all published stories about Jimmy Darts’ donations.)
“What attracted me the most was the playful nature of his video, seeing people singing songs with him and people dancing with him,” said Andrea Nwabuike, mental health counselor and freelance writer based at Toronto. “I don’t know what happens after the video. But I think it’s a refreshing moment for me to see.
In the faith-driven social media genre, Nwabuike noticed that Jimmy Darts videos stood out. Christian content, she said, “is often about what’s wrong with the culture or what people do wrong,” she said, but it “just lives what it believes. at the end of the day “.
Many other online creators operate around a similar formula of stunts and surprise giveaways. Kellogg described his social media as the intersection of MrBeast, Yes Theory and Danny Duncan, who are all known for doing extravagant stunts online.
MrBeast, whose channel has 74.9 million subscribers, creates videos like “Give people $ 100,000 to quit their jobs”, while Yes Theory (7.08 million subscribers) recently posted a video based on “Asking strangers in elevators to leave the country with us !!”
As for Danny Duncan, I was once in Sacramento, Calif., With some friends, and noticed hordes of teenagers swarming with Duncan on the street. According to his YouTube channel, he seems to be living every 15-year-old boy’s dream, racking up millions of views driving tanks and blowing up Tesla.
This genre also has a darker side. Blogger and prankster David Dobrik rose to fame for gifting his friends Tesla; However, his good deeds hit a wall when former collaborators accused him of intimidation and abuse. He also lost his goodwill when people began to cynically assume that any good deed was just done for the cameras.
“Every move now is like, ‘I don’t want people to think I’m doing this for this,'” Dobrik said in a June 2021 statement. Rolling stone profile. “You will never, ever make people believe that your intentions are 100% pure. “
The ethical considerations of performative generosity become even more sensitive when it comes to filming the people Kellogg often interacts with: people on the streets, at gas stations, living in their cars, shopping at Walmart. In recent years, vloggers have come under fire for exploiting the homeless in their videos.
Kellogg also frequently funds money for the people he features in his videos, posting their Venmo usernames and encouraging his followers to donate. Last month, he shared an Uber driver’s Venmo account and funded him over $ 1,600; in July, he paid the rent of a follower, and a partner company also ceded rent to one of his followers.
He said Chess journal in May that he aims to donate more money than anyone in history. He realized that direct funding through Venmo and CashApp allows him to raise funds and donate large amounts, often tens of thousands of dollars per recipient, without having to be rich himself.
Nwabuike said she did not give to people Kellogg helps publicly online, in part because it funds primarily through Venmo, which is not available outside of the United States, and in part because she does not know where the money is going and how it is being used. .
“The only thing I thought when watching his videos was that it would be nice if there was a follow-up with a community, for the people he helps, to continue to walk,” he said. she declared. “He does three-part videos where you kinda see the person’s journey, but there’s no one else out there who’s really connected, not even the people who donate and give him a plate. -form to set up. How deep are these relationships and to what extent are they lasting? “
The advantage of digital donations, which Kellogg has raised thousands of dollars with, is that people can quickly click to donate and then jump to scrolling through more videos. But it also allows generosity to be exercised in a disconnected way, for the instant satisfaction of watching a video with a happy ending.
“One of the main ways that social media has impacted our faith is that it has to be instantaneous,” said Heather Thompson Day, communications teacher and host of the CT podcast. Viral jesus, said. “We’re so used to instant gratification that it can be difficult to understand a God who takes time and a God who often responds silently. “
By consuming and creating content online, users can fall into the trap of believing that real life should unfold instantly, much like online – which Thompson Day says doesn’t necessarily reflect the way life is. is actually taking place. The years go by quickly but change from moment to moment, and most of the changes that appear in people’s lives are gradual, barely detectable. Genuine relationships, which usually take time to build, are often the cornerstone of the most profound impact and transformation, not instant gifts.
A Lightning in the Pan which is a Venmo payout of $ 50 with the added note of “God bless you!” Probably doesn’t hurt, though.
Kellogg is young, smiling, with a friendly voice that makes strangers more willing to hear his requests and subscribers more likely to continue watching his videos. He doesn’t have an office job but appears to the camera like some sort of neighbor man in town. (You can see his acting profile online, and he’s even appeared on an extreme mini-golf game show.) His project is sort of an evangelistic-tinged American dream: do it your way, but also, do them for God.
As he said in the Chess journal interview, Kellogg aims to reach 10 million TikTok followers, he wants to jumpstart direct giving, he wants to change the world for the better, and he wants kids to stop falling asleep in church.
The Christian designer has a vision beyond social media, including a ‘home party church’, a rented mansion funded by businesses and sponsors where he could host water slide baptisms and party without drugs no alcohol. It is a vision fueled by “radical optimism”.
“Become radically optimistic,” he says, “whatever your situation is, and literally the opportunities will flow to you. “
Rachel Seo is a freelance writer based in California who discusses faith, pop culture, and tech.