Sometimes I think that we can get discouraged by some of the things we see happen on the Internet. So much news can be discussed about trolls, cyber bullying, sharing nude pictures, etc, that can make the Internet seem like a generally terrible place.
At the same time we need to remember that there are some amazing things that have come out of the Internet. Before the Internet, how much longer would it take for an idea to spread globally? But now a celebrity or comedian can mention an idea and that idea can explode beyond their wildest imaginations. Then there are the news stories of tragedy that lead others to try and help out a complete stranger. It is important to remember that the Internet is not all a dark, scary place, but really has the potential to help accomplish amazing things.
Jeff We Can
Earlier in February John Oliver on Last Week Tonight did a video on the Tobacco Industry. As the closing piece he introduced an idea for a new Marlboro mascot, Jeff the Diseased Lung. They had even put up bus ads in one country and handed out t-shirts in another country. On the show John Oliver sent out the call to say #JeffWeCan and on the most recent show we found out that the people answered the call. People all over the world have taken Jeff the Diseased Lung and they have run with it. People have created new bus ads, brought out a full Jeff the Diseased Lung costume to dance at events, and even created gifs. It is amazing what people have done with this and where they have taken it. This would not have spread so quickly or probably so far if it was not for the Internet.
One of the other amazing things is the ability to share stories of tragedy and for those stories to be turned around into online fundraisers. There was one last year where people heard about man who walked 20 miles roundtrip to get to work who did not have a vehicle. The amount of money that was raised was able to buy him multiple cars probably.
Recently there has been a fundraiser for an 18 month old who survived a car crash into water and then was in the water for like 13 hours. Sadly the mother appears to have died and the child somehow survived. The family set up a site to help fund the baby’s medical expenses and the funeral for the mother. They have already exceeded the amount they were looking for. It really is amazing how people will come together when given the opportunity.
It is amazing what you can find online and what gets shared, but some of that is because so many people can share and create using the Internet. Often these things are shared through things such as Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. The connection that people who are fans of similar things or even just to share a random idea that you have. One of the best examples of this are memes. One person starts something spreading and then people take it and run with it. It is no more about a creation in a bubble, but in collaboration. The reason that these memes continue to exist is because they continued to be shared, recreated, and reworked.
The Internet is a tool that can be used for both good and bad. Some people are frustrated about the way the Internet is used, but at the same time it is not the Internet itself that is the problem. One of the big problems is actually that the people making some of the laws and rules do not fully understand the new landscape that the Internet represents. The big problem is that we often remember the terrible things that happen, but we need to remember the good things that can happen as well because of the Internet.
What other good uses of the Internet can you think of? Let us know or share a link in the comments below!