If you spend enough (or worse, too much) time on social media you will begin to develop the very grim view that the world is overrun with very angry, very unpleasant people.
People who will gladly say something in a comment just to upset someone else.
People who will delight in saying or doing something that they know will hurt someone else.
People who are, well, mean.
And if you’re not careful, you can start to think, “Well, there it is. People are just awful.”
So it’s nice to see that sometimes, you are reminded of why in the real world – away from their keyboards and more representative of the vocal minority of people online – people are fundamentally decent.
We found this out recently when my son lost his camera. He is an avid nature photographer, and goes out most every day to find critters and photograph them. He has a very nice camera that was a gift from his grandparents. It was one of the last gifts his Pop gave to him before passing away.
My son had gone out one night and after a stop to photograph a copperhead he found, he set the camera on the bumper of his car. And he drove off. He didn’t realize that he had set the camera there until he got home, around 11:30 at night.
He went into panic mode when he realized what had happened. So we hopped in the car, and made the 45 minute drive out into the woods to look for it in the middle of the night. Nothing.
The next day, my wife posted a Facebook message about the camera, as well as our son’s love of nature and the sentimental value of the camera. Parker and I went and blanketed the area with signs hoping that some good Samaritan had driven by and seen it and had it for safekeeping.
After more than a week, we still haven’t recovered the camera. And that’s a bummer. If the person who has the camera decided it was now theirs, I hope they enjoy it and the thousands of nature pics on it, and also appreciates that the camera was one of the final gifts a grandfather gave to his grandson.
But this column isn’t for that person. No, rather it is for:
- The hundreds of people who shared the post.
- The people who responded to my wife’s post saying, “I have shared this post to (insert community here) forum! Hope you find it!”
- The people who sent messages expressing their hope that it was found.
- The gentleman who messaged my wife and said he and his husband often biked out there, and they would be on the lookout for it.
- The person who called me from the woods and said, “Hey, I saw your sign. Can you tell me where you think you lost it so I can be on the lookout?”
- The people who contacted us who had searched various online shopping sites to see if they could find it posted for sale somewhere.
- The people who reached out to offer to donate replacement cameras.
Because those are really who we are. I have to believe that. It’s not the people on social media who take delight in being mean to other people online. It’s not the people who go in the streets and yell at peaceful protesters. It’s not the people who willfully spread falsehoods and lies and inflammatory and hateful rhetoric online.
Yes, they exist.
But for the most part, we are better. We are a good people. And we need not be poisoned by the bad who are trying to drown out the good.
Embrace the good. Thank you, good people. And keep being you. And be loud about your good. Because it matters in the world.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.