Shea Serrano is the hero we need right now: While We’re Waiting

Shea Serrano FOH Army

Twitter can be a wonderful and terrible place.

It is, after all, an instant and on-demand window into most of the world and many of the people in it in real time. It’s where news breaks. It’s where we gather together to live-tweet Tribe games and Bachelor in Paradise episodes and something called “Game of Thrones” (I’m told). It’s where we celebrate and share and connect virtually any time we want—and that’s really just the beginning.

But, that’s the thing about Twitter… it has no “off” switch. It’s a constant and relentless force that, at times, can quickly start to feel overwhelming. As the never-ending, negative news cycle of today’s political climate cycles through over and over again, Twitter never stops serving up the latest. It’s essential, but it’s brutal, and I’ve found it doesn’t take long for “scrolling mindlessly and looking for pictures of Fiona the Hippo” to become “curling up on the couch and quietly weeping because it feels like the world is on the brink of falling apart.”

It’s in those times, however, that it’s important to look for the good people. The people who are sharing their opinions passionately, but sharing so much more than that, too. The people who are standing up for what’s right, and going out of their way to help lift others to their feet. The people who are just plain nice.

The people like Shea Serrano.

Shea, a former teacher who lives in Houston, is a staff writer at The Ringer. Having cut his chops at regional publications like the Houston Press and LA Weekly, Shea eventually worked his way to Bill Simmons’ Grantland, where he wrote about a little of everything, from going gift shopping with 2Chainz to finding the moment Will Smith stopped being cool.

One New York Times best-selling book about rap later, the father of three has another on the way this October. That’s another (likely) New York Times best seller,1 a book that answers important, probably never-before-asked questions about the NBA, like “What season was Michael Jordan the best version of Michael Jordan?”

While his writing portfolio is creative and weird and amazing—most of which is accompanied by incredible illustrations—and you should read as much of it as you can find, it’s what Shea and his followers on Twitter do that makes him an exceptional human being.

Shea calls his followers the FOH Army. What does FOH stand for? In his own words:

The mission of the FOH Army is simple: Spread kindness around an increasingly hostile internet, especially to people who truly deserve it. Their strikes are simple and usually unexpected, taking little more than a tweet or two from Shea to ignite a movement. Tuesday night, the group’s targets were random teachers using the platform Donors Chose to raise money for their classrooms.

In just 13 minutes, Shea and 80 of his followers raised $1,800 for the Houston-area teacher who was hoping to provide her students with interactive learning tools. And then…

$400 to help a seventh-grade teacher build a flexible-learning-space classroom for her students, which Shea helped to raise in 10 minutes. And then…


It took Shea and the FOH six minutes (six!) to raise the $1,000 requested by a high-school music teacher for basic school supplies his students desperately need. Why? Because, according to Shea, the news on Tuesday sucked and he was bored. Why not spread a little love around?

Last Christmas, after three days and 15 hours of flights and connections, Shea lost his car at the Houston airport. A parking employee, a sympathetic woman named Radelle, drove him around for over an hour, helping him look. After they found his car, Shea realized he had no cash to tip her—but Radelle didn’t mind. She was excited about the upcoming holidays and happy to help. He asked for her email address and promised he’d thank her later.

Shea got home, took to Twitter, and recounted the tale, ending the thread of tweets by saying he’d love to do something nice for Radelle and her two daughters. He set up a PayPal account and, within days, raised $2,700 to tip her—adding in his own $300 to “get to a clean $3,000.” Shea delivered it in person four days before Christmas.

Of course, Shea Serrano is not the only person practicing random acts of kindness or trying to make the internet a nicer place to be. But I can’t imagine there’s anyone doing it quite like him. His efforts are as genuine as they are random, and as heartfelt as he is hilarious. Shea simply wants to do nice things for nice people, and to borrow a phrase, I think that’s pretty dope.  If you don’t already follow Shea on Twitter, for the love of God, what are you waiting for? Do it now, thank me later, and consider joining the FOH in the meantime. You never know when they’ll strike next…

…and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss it.

  1. Ed. Note: It’s been on a variety of top seller lists while only being in its pre-order state. []