Social media can be a harsh place to spend time. Any time something bad happens, whether it’s a friend stuck in traffic all the way up to a disastrous pandemic, we don’t just hear about it once. We hear about it many times from many friends. Often the stories are what I call “outrage porn”. Their purpose seems to be one thing: to generate anger and outrage – often with no actionable step to take to make things better. The only action seems to be to share the post with your friends and make them angry too.
So for some time I’ve had a social media strategy that has worked well for me. On the one hand, I unfollow everyone I know who shares stories like that. And on the other, I share stories of a couple types. The first are stories in which there is something we all can do. We can send money to a charity, we can volunteer our time or write a letter of support to someone needing it, for example. The second are of positive stories in which someone sees a way to bring good in to the world and just goes out and does it. This goes a long ways toward restoring my faith in humanity.
In no time in history have I seen so many stories of people bringing good into the world as I have these days. I’ll share several here in case you haven’t seen some of them.
Lots of people in our city are losing their jobs. Fortunately some landlords are being really lovely. (This isn’t the only such story I’ve seen):
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Group, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors, and several other teams as well as the Scotiabank Arena, donated 27,000 pounds of food to food banks in our city.
A local catering chef is making 30,000 meals for needy people including giving many out to a lineup of people in a local square downtown in an area with many homeless people. He is paying for all of them with his own money.
The pandemic is not just taking a toll on people physically, it’s also causing an increase in mental health issues as people try to cope with the stress of the situation. Hundreds of mental health workers in Ontario have offered their services for free to front-line COVID-19 staff.
In Scotland, Asiyah and Jawad Javed, owners of a cornershop saw that elderly people needed protective supplies like face masks and hand sanitizer. Some of the elders were even afraid to go out to get it. And so, in response they made up packages of supplies to give to them for free and even brought it to them when needed.
For many children, getting a good meal isn’t always a certainty – except when they go to schools. In many places, hungry children are given free breakfast and lunch. But now that school is cancelled, a lot of these kids risk going hungry. Teacher Zane Powles, in Grimsby UK wasn’t going to let that happen. And so, every day he walks 8 km with 18 kg of meals on his back to bring the kids their lunches and check on them.
Most of you already know how much I love our city’s libraries. But now I love them even more. Even though they are closed, they’re still making a huge difference in our community:
One of the coolest resources we have available to us in our libraries are 3D printers. People use them to print out small parts to fix things at home or make small action figures or toys they design. But now that the libraries are closed, the printers have been put to an even better use. Printing out face shields for healthcare workers.
But that’s not all they’re up to. Even the buildings are being put to use and staff have volunteered to help. A big book warehouse was sanitized and rearranged and now is a food terminal, and library branches have now been turned in to food banks for the needy.
The Prime Minister of Ireland had another job before he was elected. He was a doctor. But now, in the midst of the pandemic, he’s picking up shifts again as a medical doctor to help in the pandemic.
Our healthcare workers are taking on a LOT, and in New York City it’s being particularly bad as the conditions worsen. People around the world are showing their appreciation for the workers in many ways but I haven’t seen it on quite this scale. Here is a video taken in New York City at 7PM: Time for shift change at the hospitals. Imagine heading in to work knowing the difficulty you’ll be facing and the risks you’re taking – or heading home after doing that and hearing this:
In Regina, Saskatchewan, police and emergency responders showed their appreciation another way:
At one point they heard that it was a little girl’s 9th birthday and she’d be celebrating alone. Not to worry, they’re on it!
Near the US border, many Canadian health care workers commute daily to the US to help out in hospitals in border cities. At crossings like the one near Detroit, Michigan, many many healthcare workers cross daily. On one day, Jeffrey Rowe, a respiratory therapist at a hospital in Detroit was heading back home when he saw a bunch of cars with their emergency lights on. He worried he was going to be detained or turned back. Instead, he was thanked by about 20 immigration officers holding signs and cheering welcoming him home. He was so moved that when he got home he posted a video to Facebook. Please give it a watch. You can find it linked from the article here.
You don’t need to have loads of money or be a healthcare worker to bring goodness in to the world. In fact, you could be just like this boy from Connecticut, US:
In fact, there is something that nearly everyone reading this could do regardless of where you are in the world. In fact, the farther away the better, I think.
The Stay Gold society is a group in Western Ontario that wants to bring joy to to seniors by visiting them, and bringing them gifts and letters. However, during the pandemic, long term care homes are closed. In fact, in many of them, residents aren’t even allowed out of their rooms for fear of spreading the virus. In several homes in the province, once the virus spread to the home, several seniors died. Even those who have relatives living nearby that want to see them can’t because of the risks. (A friend of mine took her children to visit her mother for Easter and they could only stand outside with hand-coloured signs sending good wishes and wave to grandma who looked out from the second floor window.
I can’t imagine the loneliness and fear people there are feeling right now. The Stay Gold Society is asking people to send letters (handwritten if possible) and artwork. It is incredibly simple. As they say on their page:
It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3: write (or draw), scan and send.
- Write a letter and/or create a drawing or work of art. Letters can be addressed generally, i.e “Hello there,” or “Dear friend,”. Handwritten letters are preferred, however typed letters are also accepted. Be sure to use large printing.
- Scan your letters or artwork. We recommend using the Notes app scanning function if you can. Letters and artwork can also be photographed.
- Send your Virtual HappyMail to firstname.lastname@example.org
And here’s the amazing and inspiring part that I just found as I was looking for more details to share with you about this organization:
The founder of this organization. The person who cares so much about her elders and the one making this all possible is only sixteen years old. If there was ever an illustration of the importance of just doing something – trying to make a difference related to something you care about, it is this. If she can make a in matters that she cares about, so can you. And it can start with your writing a short letter from wherever you are, taking a photo and sending it on to Emily. And if she inspires you as much as she does me, be sure to tell her that.
And if you know of other stories of kindness like this please share them in the comments below.
Stay safe, everyone.