Social media platforms have often been painted as a breeding ground for scams, narcissists, closeted bullies, peer pressure and many other god-awful things. Basically, it’s said to be the cesspool from whence all of society’s fowl things spring forth. Or at least that’s what narrow-minded loudmouths would have you believe.

In a more realistic view, social media is an open forum where anyone and everyone can have their say. To be fair, when you give everyone a go on the soapbox, you’re bound to hear a wee bit of sense wrapped in a whole lot of weird. Still, every now and again, among the twerking, anacondas and tween dramas, a glimmer of hope for humanity escapes to the surface.

Let’s have a nice long look at some of the nicer things social media has contributed to so far this year.

The time we decided shaming is unacceptable

Back in March, a photo of a heavier gentleman dancing was posted online accompanied by a rather nasty comment (“Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week, “) , which I’m sure was nowhere near as nasty as their real-life comments and looks.  With the amount of trolling online, you’d expect most people to have joined hands in poking fun at the man, right? Not this time. A bunch of wonderful women decided not only to stand up for him but to throw him one of the biggest parties you could imagine. You can read the full story here.

The story is relevant not just for the hard time heavier people might have when trying to do everyday, normal things. On the one side, it shows how cruel people can be to gain a bit more attention online, from people who are mostly irrelevant in their lives. And, on the other, it speaks to the incredible compassion we’re capable of, showing that contrary to what you might expect, the Internet is a self-regulated environment, where decent people will not just stand up for people they’ve never met, but actually go to great lengths to right a wrong.

 The time we helped find a baby daddy

Granted, social media can’t take the credit for this one but who knows if baby Logan would have ever met his father had it not been for online media and the buzz created around the ad Bianca Fazey, the baby’s momma, put on Gumtree. Regardless of how you choose to see Bianca’s ad, it took truckloads of guts to put it all out there to find her son’s father and in my book, that’s one brave lady.

The story is a mix of how freely people express criticism and how much harsher they are when afforded to opportunity to voice their own brand of social values in an open forum, and of how effective and life-changing these tools can be. People feel much more entitled to judge online than in person but, thanks to the worldwide reach the digital environment has, Bianca got her happy ending and her search payed off.

The time we all wore #yellowforseth

Kids tend to be experts at getting parents, grandparents and everyone’s uncle to do what they want and since the Internet loves puppies, cats and babies, there’s been a slew of children holding cute signs trying to convince their parents to buy them pets and whatnot. As kids, whether by themselves or at their parents’ incentive, were trying to get stuff, Seth was going for something a lot deeper and more meaningful.

Having spent most of his time in hospital or recovering from treatment, the boy with no immune system, was meeting the world and making friends. In a video that touched the hearts of millions he simply asked if people would wear his favourite colour to support him before his second bone marrow transplant. You can find out everything about Seth here. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in, from regular folks to celebrities, making sure Seth’s parents can fill his room with photos many times over.

The Bottom Line

The most valuable asset of a social media community is not how easily one can throw abuse left and right, the lurking nor is it about how much self-promotion you can squeeze into a single post; it’s about how every single one of its members can share their own personal stories and find like-minded people to support them through the smallest but most meaningful gestures.

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