February 28, 2014

Society’s Silver Lining


Upworthy and Other Social Platforms Spread Positive News

As an avid watcher of both local and national news on TV, I am well versed in the travesty that is the current state of our world. Between civil wars, corruption, terrorist threats, and our own domestic strife, you get the impression that we live in a pretty bleak place and time. We all know bad news sells, but after a while it starts to sound the same and eventually you just don’t want to hear it anymore. While I could never completely walk away from the news (I trust NBC4 weather above all else, get CNN news alerts on my phone, and I can’t stay away from Brian Williams’ smooth delivery), I have found myself looking to my Facebook news feed more and more to lift my spirits and to remind myself that there is still good in this world and sometimes humanity can surprise you in wonderful ways. Yes, Facebook is generally filled with other people’s tropical vacation photos and engagement announcements, but nestled between all the white noise is some good news.

I started following a site called Upworthy after a friend shared article after article and I finally got curious enough to check it out. Upworthy essentially aggregates stories from around the world that focus on breaking down stereotypes, ending discrimination and bullying, and people helping people. Posts from Upworthy now flood my feed and though this would annoy me in most circumstances, how can you be mad when faced with endless stories of the triumph of the human spirit and people standing up for what is right to make the world a better place?

Even Buzzfeed is starting to annoy me less, as I’m noticing more positive and uplifting stories and lists being shared everyday. They may be cheesy, but looking at 30 images or stories that make you proud to be human is a pretty good way to waste time. It is also a great way to bring perspective to your life and the world we live in.

It isn’t just positive third parties spreading the good news – it’s us. Social media has given us all a platform to do good and help others. When Atlanta was hit with that first (baby) snow storm of the year and all we heard about on the news was how the city was brought to its knees and the streets had turned to mayhem, Facebook told another side of the story – about how Atlantans banded together to help each other to get through it. Facebook groups formed for people to post calls for help and to offer support where possible. We heard tales of restaurant employees delivering free food to the masses stranded in their cars, people opening their homes for complete strangers, and others using their connections to help locate missing loved ones. The city may have fallen apart, but the citizens banded together in a way that can only be described as true Southern hospitality. And that was a story I only found on Facebook.