The daughter of a couple filmed without their permission by a TikTok influencer has slammed the way her parents were shamed in a viral clip already viewed by millions.
Two Sundays ago the elderly couple was taking an evening stroll in Sydney, with the woman carrying a shopping bag and the man walking with a cane.
Suddenly a towering 6′ 8″ man came up to ask if they could help him open a water bottle he was holding in his left hand, while his right arm was in a sling.
The couple walked by with barely a glance and the caption on the clip said ‘Don’t be the person that doesn’t help’.
The man, whose name is Luke Erwin, then turned to the camera appearing to be hurt and astonished that the couple had not even stopped for a moment.
An elderly couple were asked by a 203cm man who towered over them to help him open a water bottle by pretending his arm was broken, then posted the video online, where it has been viewed millions of times
The social media post attracted abusive comments about the couple under the video, but there was more to the story than a few seconds could show.
For a start, the man’s arm wasn’t really broken, it was just a prop for his supposed ‘kindness video’.
Amal Awad, a freelance writer, revealed on Wednesday evening that the elderly couple are her parents.
Commenters vented at the Awads, with comments such as ‘Those first people just plain hateful!!!’ and ‘If people can’t even help to open a bottle of water, then humanity is doing really bad.’
‘But my parents are not dismissive, and they are not hateful,’ their daughter wrote on the SBS website.
Ms Awad’s book, Fridays with My Folks, is about how her dad’s diagnosis of renal failure affected their entire family.
‘My mother, who is in her 70s, has been beside him through his dialysis treatments. When they were filmed, they were having a quiet day of respite,’ she wrote on Wednesday.
‘My mother says what she saw was two men approaching them (the other one was filming), their intentions not clear. She didn’t notice the man’s arm was in a sling.
‘They were distressed by the video, and the comments it led to.’
Awad said she had been unable to find out if the man’s arm was really broken, but Daily Mail Australia tracked Erwin down and asked that question.
Luke Erwin’s (pictured) video in which he said an elderly couple refused to help him has gone viral
‘No, it’s a social experiment, so yeah, (it’s) just a prop,’ he admitted.
Asked what gives him the right to bother people while faking an injury, Erwin said he was ‘just trying to raise awareness for people to understand that… if someone’s in need, then they probably need to stop and help.
‘It’s a social experiment. So I get hundreds to thousands of (comments) a day saying “Thank you, Luke, for giving money to the homeless. It just reminded me next time I’m about to buy some alcohol or go to KFC and buy that extra large chips or something, I’d rather go and give the money to the homeless”,’ he said.
‘I’ve actually inspired someone to do that, so it’s not a bad thing.’
Erwin then got defensive at the reporting of his pretend injury.
‘I don’t know why no one’s reporting on me giving out $7,000 out of my own pocket, and you’re are all worried about me having a fake broken arm,’ he said.
Freelance writer Amal Awad (pictured) is the daughter of the elderly couple filmed by Luke Erwin
Daily Mail Australia pointed out that the vast majority of people who give money to homeless people don’t feel the need to video themselves doing so.
‘So if I get 13million views on that and inspire 13,000 people with that video, then I don’t see… you didn’t inspire anyone,’ he said.
‘I’m not trying to make myself (seem like) a good person, I’m trying to inspire other people and trying to make sure that they remember to give back to people in need.’
Erwin said people who give money to homeless people without filming it and putting it online don’t inspire anyone to do the same.
‘When I did it, I inspired 13,000 people that inboxed me to do that.’
He denied that he is making fun of people who don’t deserve it.
After Erwin (pictured left) had filmed the Awads, he approached another person (pictured right) to ask for help opening the bottle of water
‘You’re trying to turn the whole narrative around. I didn’t make fun.
‘It’s people that I ask if they can help me and it’s their choice if they walk past or if they don’t walk past.
‘A lot of people stop and help and a lot of people don’t.
‘So I’m trying to inspire people to remember to stop and help people in need… I’m just trying to push my message out there.’
Ms Awad said that her parents ‘minding their own business, should have a right to their privacy’.
Amal Awad (pictured) has advised people that ‘Next time you come across one of these videos, please remind yourself that you do not know the people featured in them’
‘Buskers need permission to sing in public spaces, but anyone with a mobile phone can ‘perform’ without permission and force a stranger into being part of their ‘content’ without consent,’ she said.
Not all of the comments on Erwin’s video were rude about Awad’s parents. Some stood up for them.
‘I don’t think it’s right to shame ppl because they didn’t help. U don’t know what they are going through,’ one person commented.
Ms Awad said: ‘Next time you come across one of these videos, please remind yourself that you do not know the people featured in them.
‘You can’t see their personal histories, their invisible issues and why they do or don’t do something.
‘Whatever you do, please don’t like, share, or subscribe to it.’