A video of an anonymous man eating breadsticks explodes on TikTok this week, sparking a debate about “performative activism” and how homeless people are portrayed on social media.
In the original clip, TikToker @dalton_j_puckett writes, “I gave a homeless man some Olive Garden breadsticks and he did.”
Watched over 9.7 million times, the video shows a man biting a bread stick and then throwing it.
Commentators were quick to criticize the negative tone of the video, pointing out that it was not @dalton_j_puckett’s business what this man was doing with his breadsticks.
“Homeless people don’t have to eat leftovers,” one of the top comments read.
“I gave my waste food to a human. How dare he not take advantage of it, ”read another sarcastic comment. Many people saw this as a perfect example of how homeless people are dehumanized in the media.
In the words of TikToker @mikeshardcanada: “You didn’t know what reaction he was going to have. Why were you filming it? Why did you feed a homeless man, go to your car, then secretly film him as a monster? He’s a human being, not your little pet.
@dalton_j_puckett posted a few responses to the backlash, one of which is a clip of himself eating Olive Garden breadsticks to debunk a comment saying they are “bad food”.
The other is a longer account of what happened before and after the original video, including a conversation he had with the homeless. Here, Puckett explains that he started filming the man after noticing he was throwing the breadsticks and acting erratically.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to save my good deaths, no. It was because he was throwing them on cars, ”the TikToker said, adding,“ It’s funny to see everyone’s comments when they don’t know the whole story.
The Daily Dot reached out to @dalton_j_puckett for comment via DM and TikTok, but did not immediately receive a response.
* First published: November 25, 2021, 7:13 a.m. CST
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a writer for The Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor