Duh, right? But as a social media account executive, my entire job centers around being on the Internet, monitoring social media platforms and from time to time I may get lost on some distractingly captivating sites. Aside from the endless amount of cat videos, music choices and Buzzfeed personality quizzes to see which Harry Potter character you are, I love finding those awesome stories where we see the Internet changing lives.
One of the latest incidents of the Internet joining people together to fulfill a mission was the missing Malaysian flight. DigitalGlobe, a Colorado firm that owns some of the most advanced and incredible satellite equipment around, invited people to join forces and search for the missing airliner by combing through images of the ocean. Studying over 1,230 square miles of satellite photos would take way too long for a single person to filter through, but with a digital grassroots strategy, they were able to gather more than 115,000 volunteers to try and find any sign of the missing plane.
While there was not much luck with finding the airliner, we did see the Internet community rally to help the “Burger King Baby.” A woman who was abandoned as a newborn in a Burger King 27 years ago, made a simple request on the internet to help her find her birth mother. In less than a month, she was reunited with her birth mother through the incredibly intricate web of people that saw her Facebook post.
But by far, my favorite story of the connected web solving greater issues is the story where the valuable online community helped to decipher a note left behind by a dying grandmother. In 1996, a grandmother lost her short battle with cancer, leaving behind a grieving family and a stack of “rambling” letters that seemingly made zero sense. It’s completely nonsense… Or so her family thought for more than a decade.
When the woman’s granddaughter put the photo of this note online and asked for help, she found it. Quickly. The sequence of individual letters represented prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, and it only took 15 minutes for the glorious community on the Internet to decipher the message. This woman was praying for her family through these letters. She had lost her ability to speak but continued to pray for the happiness, safety and health of her family until her passing.
So sure, the Internet is full of selfie-obsessed and comment-happy people, but sometimes it’s a community of folks who are more than willing to help share their expertise to help someone else. And as someone who is constantly monitoring and engaging with others on the internet, it always brightens my day to see the difference such an expansive community can make when they are willing to help.
Written by: Kaitlyn DuBose