Why The Internet Can Be A Great Place To Be

The internet can often be a cruel place – some of us remember how “Jessie Slaughter” (real name Jessica Leonhardt), a girl who who was only 12 at the time, became a target back in 2010 after posting a few attention-seeking videos. The attacks involved prank calls, hate e-mails, pizza deliveries, and every private piece of information (address, phone number and more) about Jessie broadcasted all over the internet – all of this before she was even able to suffer the typical, normal stress of being a teenager. It was cyberbullying at its worst.

However, the internet can also be a wonderful place – a place where people can gather together to support major causes, collaborate on big projects and truly make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. And sometimes pizza delivery isn’t necessarily a bad thing – take, for example, a few fabulous posters from Reddit (“Redditors”, as you know them) who delivered pizzas to 2-year-old cancer patient Hazel Hammersley.

Hazel has been undergoing treatment at a hospital in Los Angeles since July 4th, and in trying to entertain her during an obviously rough and trying time, her mother Lauren and grandmother Linda used medical tape to write “SEND PIZZA RM 4112″ on the window in her room.

All it took was one photo of the window to hit the internet, and the Hammersley clan was inundated with pizzas and support.

Lauren and Linda paid for this sweet gesture by offering another one – when they invited other patients and hospital staff to have a pizza party with the 20 pies they received. Obviously they lifted a few spirits, and had an unforgettable time.

This wasn’t the first act of kindness from web – remember 68-year old bus monitor Karen Klein? Last year, a video circulated of a few seventh graders being absolutely horrific to the woman, who was just trying to do her job.

Calling her fat and suggesting that her children commit suicide (Klein actually did lose a son this way ten years ago), a petition was started by a man named Max Sidorov soon after the torments went viral.

Hoping to raise $5,000, the donations quickly rose to an impressive $600k. Karen didn’t thrive on the new-found attention, or even seem overjoyed about her random wealth – all she was truly hoping for was an apology from the students who were cruel. Talk about a class act.

Reddit actually saved someone’s life once. A Redditor named GokkunMilkshake posted a picture of a rash-like wound above his lip that was the result of a popped pimple. While he went to the ER, the wound wasn’t getting any better – so he decided to post a picture of it, and ask the Reddit community to weigh in.

A poster by the name of “the_new_allante” suggested that he go back to the doctor immediately. And here’s why:

When GokkunMilkshake decided to follow this advice, the culture taken from the infection revealed it was MRSA – which is a mutated form of staph. It can cause death in humans within a matter of days if it works its way into the blood stream, and has been known to cause 100,000 deaths per year.

Here’s another example of Internet goodwill: When a guy decided to take a pregnancy test “just for fun”, and it came up positive, his friend made a comic about it for Reddit, poking fun at the situation. It was then when he learned that a positive on a pregnancy test using male’s urine can often identify testicular cancer.

His friend went to the doctor, who found a tiny tumor. Luckily it was caught early on, but – who knows what could have happened if it weren’t for Reddit? (Sidenote: Men? It might be a good idea to take a pregnancy test, as goofy as it sounds.)

While these are a few examples, here’s a way that you can be a similar internet hero today. Back in 2010, I attended a concert that was giving out $10 gift certificates to Donors Choose. When you log into the site, you can peruse a variety of schools all over the country who are trying to raise money towards education.

I decided to put my donation towards a school in California, who had a classroom that was trying to raise money to buy new arts supplies. The teacher won me over with the following opening statement:

The classroom was hoping to obtain construction paper, paint, paint brushes, and various art supplies – the supplies that can truly make creative young minds thrive. It spoke to me because art education is something I, personally, fully support.

While my donation was a gift to me, it warmed my heart to get updates on the classroom by e-mail. If you’re looking to put money towards a worthy cause, I definitely recommend the site. Ten years ago, I bet people would look at you strangely if you said that internet folk could truly help a variety of classrooms throughout the United States.

Do you have any favorite moments of internet goodwill? Do you think all of these random acts of kindness are often overshadowed by negativity associated with being online?

Image Credit: gawker.com (Hazel), cbsnews.com (test), Shutterstock (featured) newsone.com (Klein)

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