Head to your favourite news site or over to your Twitter feed.
Check the latest on Facebook.
Chances are, within seconds, you’ll encounter a disheartening news story or come across a post filled with negativity.
From politics to crime to the environment: it seems there’s always a dark cloud hanging over the world’s latest happenings. It’s not just in our current events, either. Internet users have taken to engaging in web-based arguments; verbal brawls that do little to foster understanding or build camaraderie. Yes, without a doubt, there are some serious downsides to our World Wide Web.
But, for every negative moment, there is a spark of bright positivity out there as well. It may seem as though there’s nothing good around us, but the truth is that it is there in spades. And the Internet enhances and reveals it. Sometimes, the Internet comes together for the greater good and helps make the world a better place.
It’s these feel-good stories that are so important to pay attention to, and which deserve top billing in our news broadcasts.
Think the Internet is filled with only negativity? Think again. Here are 10 instances of web magic: 10 times in which the Internet helped to make the world a little brighter and a little kinder.
When Twitter helped reunite a man with his lost Christmas money.
In December of 2017, a man named Mariusz left an envelope full of cash in a London pub. While this could have been the last time he saw his money, the pub was on a mission to help find him.
The Alexandra pub sent out a tweet looking for the missing Mariusz, with the goal of reuniting him with what were likely his Christmas wages.
It wasn’t just the pub who began searching for him. Their tweet quickly went viral and hundreds of other people began tweeting and Facebooking, trying to help out a stranger. After 3 million Twitter engagements, more than 1.5 million views on Facebook and 25,000 shares, the myserious, sought-after Mariusz was found! His son saw one of the social media messages and said, “Dad, is this you?”
Within a few days, Mariusz had returned to the Alexandra and retrieved his missing money.
A happy ending for Christmas indeed.
When the Internet came together to give Batkid one very special day.
Stories like this demonstrate the power of the Internet and the human capacity for kindness.
In 2013, the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped make Miles’ wish come true. The 5-year-old had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia before he had reached his 2nd birthday. His wish was to become his hero Batman for a day. With the amazing power of the Internet, his wish went viral.
As the Foundation was preparing an event for Miles in San Francisco, and seeking volunteers, the message spread, resulting in more than 500,000 tweets and plenty of other press. In the end, the event grew to epic proportions, with dozens of donations making it possible and making it even more fantastic. (Batmobiles, anyone?) On the day Miles became Batkid, an estimated 20,000 people lined the streets to cheer him on. He even gained the attention of celebrities and notable figures, with President Obama sending him a video message of encouragement.
This amazing turnout warmed the hearts of all who attended or heard about it, and the legacy lives on. Today, Miles is in remission and doing great.
When the Internet took a kid’s holiday idea and ran with it.
Just recently, a young man from New Zealand had a creative idea go viral.
Wolfenoot, his invented celebration of wolves and dogs, has already become a holiday eagerly anticipated by many. This Time article title sums it up perfectly: “Seven-Year-Old Boy Invents Wolf Holiday and People Are Already Onboard.”
His mother, Jax Goss, first shared her son’s idea on Facebook, amused by his creativity and spirit. She was unprepared for how fast the idea would go viral and how many Internet users would love it and spread it further.
In the post, Goss shared that Wolfenoot is “when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone.” Revellers feast on roast meat and cakes decorated to look like the full moon.
Within days, Wolfenoot had become a global phenomenon, amassing shares on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond. Goss, inundated with questions, was forced to create a Wolfenoot website to share FAQ and details about the brand new holiday. Clearly, the idea appealed to dog lovers worldwide.
With 23 November on the horizon, thousands are planning to join together to celebrate the inaugural Wolfenoot. The Facebook event for the holiday already shows 7k people attending and nearly 10k interested.
The Goss family are thrilled with the response and are selling Wolfenoot merchandise with all proceeds donated to a New Zealand branch of the SPCA.
This is a wonderful example of the ability of the Internet to spread a positive idea far and wide, as well as an example of how the global community can come together for a shared passion.
When Facebook began letting users raise money for charity on their birthdays.
This isn’t just one instance of the Internet doing good, but many.
In 2017, Facebook began letting users celebrate their birthdays not by asking for gifts from friends and family, but by requesting donations be made to their favourite charities.
Around their birthday, users can raise money for a charity that means a lot to them. In the first year of the Facebook birthday fundraiser feature, it has raised more than $300 million for 750,000 nonprofits and charities.
The organisations supported range from food banks to animal shelters to nonprofits that focus on Alzheimer’s Research. One unique birthday fundraiser was intended for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, where a volunteer’s Facebook friends helped him raise $2,300 to help injured sea lions.
Birthdays have suddenly become about so much more.
When a young girl’s beloved teddy bear got a special flight home.
During a flight back home to the Scottish island of Orkney, a 4-year-old girl misplaced her beloved teddy in the Edinburgh airport. This would be heartbreaking for any child.
Fortunately, through the brilliance of social media, she was able to get it back safely.
After discovering the missing stuffy, the girl’s mother posted an update on her personal Facebook seeking help. She also shared her post in various relevant Facebook groups. It wasn’t long before a cabin crew member for Logan Air noticed the social media post. (She also happened to be from Orkney herself). The crew member asked colleagues at the Edinburgh airport to keep an eye out for the bear, and it was quickly located in lost property. It was time to get the bear back to its owner.
Logan Air took great pains to make the bear’s (and the little girl’s) experience extra special. The teddy bear was flown back in his own seat, buckled in snugly (with a complimentary cookie to boot) and the entire crew made sure he was transported in style.
The bear flew 200 miles to the island of Orkney, where he was finally reunited with his 4-year-old best friend.
When 60,000 Facebook users showed a disabled boy that he had friends.
A mother in Michigan, USA created a Facebook page for her son, Colin. He was about to celebrate is 11th birthday, but Colin told her he didn’t want a birthday party because he felt like he had no friends.
His mum set up this page asking for users to share “positive thoughts and encouraging words,” hoping that this “would be better than any birthday party.”
Within a week, Colin had 60,000 brand new virtual friends, who gladly followed his page to show their support. Soon after, the news show Good Morning America hosted a special birthday party for Colin held in New York City’s Time Square.
As of 2018, the page “Colin’s Friends” has nearly 2 million followers. Colin’s mum continues to post updates and encouraging posts about a wide range of issues.
When a Veteran with no family had a funeral attended by thousands.
Harold Percival, a war veteran, passed away at the age of 99. His obituary stated that he had no living family or close friends to attend his funeral. Very rapidly, the Internet rewrote the story.
After a few tweets regarding the obituary, Percival’s tale spread, and was picked up by news outlets.
On the day of his funeral, a crowd several hundred deep showed up to pay their respects to this veteran. Both military personnel and civilians attended, creating a send-off which honoured Percival’s contributions and also warmed the hearts of all those who were there.
Another example of how the Internet has brought people together for something meaningful.
When Reddit helped a man find his missing mother.
Good people aren’t just on Facebook and Twitter. Popular news aggregate and discussion website Reddit has also played a role in its share of heart-warming Internet stories.
In 2014, a NYC resident named Josh Goldberg posted in a New York City subreddit looking for his mother, who had been missing since the previous day. His mother suffers from dementia, and had wandered away from her apartment without returning.
On Reddit, he posted personal details and an appeal for help. At the top of his post, he asked for “upvotes” which helps rocket a post to the top of Reddit, thus garnering it more visibility. He directed people to message him if they had any information or to directly contact the New York Police Department, who were already on the case.
Lo and behold, Reddit came through. A man who saw the post came across the missing woman that very night.
It seems that the quick transfer of information the Internet provides can be helpful in more ways than one. Another happy ending, thanks to the web.
When this organisation began helping homeless people located family members.
Helping to reunite loved ones is something the Internet seems to have done a lot of over the years.
In fact, whole organisations have grown out of this, including Miracle Messages, which uses the power of the web to reconnect homeless people with their family and friends.
This amazing nonprofit helps homeless individuals find their loved ones by recording 2-minute videos of them and then circulating them on social media. The organisation has already yielded 156 reunions, with more certainly to come.
Miracle Messages relies on volunteers to help make the videos, which showcase the homeless person sharing a message for their loved ones, and depends on the volunteers sharing on social media, too.
By 2021, the organisation hops to have reunited 1 million people---a large number, but still only 1% of the total global homeless population.
When a DNA test reunited long-lost siblings after 34 years.
This story is a testament to the power of both the Internet and of science.
In the past several years, DNA tests have become enormously popular, as users eagerly look to discover their genetic origins. But DNA tests don’t just reveal that you’ve got Irish roots or Scandinavian heritage, they are also serving to bring long-lost relatives together.
Such is the case of two orphaned siblings from South Korea. In 1984, both were abandoned by their father in public locations in Seoul. However, they were abandoned separately, so neither was connected to a sibling.
Both were adopted by families in the US, but it wasn’t until 34 years later that they found one another. Fascinatingly, they’d grown up just 600 miles apart.
The brother, Justin, didn’t even know he had a sister. But the sister, Renee, remembered having a “cute younger brother.”
Both had gotten DNA tests completed via 23andMe, a popular DNA testing site. Their results showed a familial match. Finally, after all these years, the two were reconnected, and they met soon after in person.
Another reunion made possible by the power of the web.
What is the most touching story you’ve heard about people and the Internet?