Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finding Joy Online

Although the internet provides us with many things (news, shopping, music, videos instructing us on the finer points of cat yodeling), it doesn't seem like something that can bring us joy or reaffirm out belief in the inherent decency of people. In fact, it seems like the internet can often bring out the worst in people. I don't know if it is the fact that it is an open and easily accessible forum for people to broadcast their opinions or if it is because it seems so impersonal that people, usually hiding behind the cover of anonymity, can say whatever pops into their heads, but comments on the internet sometimes trend towards the vile, hateful, or blatantly uninformed. While I am all about civil and thoughtful discourse, a quick peek at most comments under a YouTube video or Yahoo News article can make you doubt the goodness of mankind (it can also make you doubt their writing ability, but that's a subject for another post).

Of course, the internet and email is awash with supposedly heartwarming stories that are supposed to inspire us to be better people. Unfortunately, these stories and emails tend to cross the line that separates heartwarming from trite. They are so prevalent that coined the term "glurge" to describe the genre.

However, the internet delivered two surprisingly heartwarming stories to me today. Thanks to the Mental Floss Watercooler News email I get during the week, I found out about Joel Armstrong, who rescues ducklings (just click on the link and see the Telegraph's photo essay on it).

After reading about this story on my way to work this morning, I thought that I had gotten my daily dose of uplift. However, several people on Facebook posted a link to the following StoryCorps animation:

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Even though the entire video is sweet and sad, it is the last few seconds that really gets to me. Besides Danny and Annie's story, which is profoundly touching on its own, the addendum, where it mentions the letters of condolence Annie has received, gives me some hope for mankind. Enjoy!