On the morning of July 17th, I woke and began my daily pre-vertical routine: Check Instagram, check Facebook, check email, check news. Before I even made it to the news, I was alerted to the MH17 bombshell via Facebook. Drawing from a collection of horrified status updates, I began to pull things into focus: A Malaysian Airlines plane shot out of the sky (not the already missing one), carrying hundreds of civilian passengers… and they knew what they were doing? The best word to describe it? Flabbergasted.
That day I was running a cyberbullying presentation for high school students and when I walked into the theatre there was an invisible black raincloud of despair hanging over the group. It suddenly seemed completely ridiculous to talk to a room full of people about cyberbullying while they are grappling with senseless cruelty in the world they have inherited. Don’t get me wrong, the session definitely arrived at an empowering and positive place, but the bang-crash tragedy was with every one of us. One guy commented, “I can’t get away from the horrible MH17 thing–it’s everywhere.” At that point, social media had completely exploded with outpourings of anger against gruesome crash photos, a tug of war between widespread collective grief, and a complete irreverence for those who lost their lives. It was a very confusing day for social media, to say the least.
I marched home that night with a desperate need to reconnect with the good in the world. I wanted to balance the horrid news with my own set of personal headlines, so I started writing a list. As an experiment, I photographed that list and posted it on Instagram with the hashtag #listgood.
Before I knew it, other people started posting their lists too. The responses amazed me, made me cry, and made me laugh. Instagram presented me with definitive proof of the good in this world, according to its users, from chicken nuggets to cheeseboards, shellac to sushi, drag queens to 90’s hip hop. The hashtag did not by any means go viral, instead it was kind of healing because it enabled us to balance the horror of such violent headlines with an injection of everyday hope.
But most importantly, these lists connected me with the other people searching for good. For the second time that day, I was astonished by the expressions of human nature. The best word to describe it? Flabbergasted.