On an unspeakably horrible day like Monday, when a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a whole lot of Americans took to social media for information, for commiseration or, in some cases, to act like complete and total idiots.
But there was a lot of good as well, from journalism to analysis to much-needed perspective. But perhaps the best and most memorable online missive of the day was by no politician or journalist- it was a Facebook post by actor/comedian/social media superstar Patton Oswalt.
First Oswalt posted a particularly appropriate Mr. Rogers quote to Twitter: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,'” one that quickly made the rounds. He later took to Facebook, with his own words:
Here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
Amen to that. It certainly outweighs on the bad stuff that found its way onto Facebook and Twitter Monday- the disinformation, the jumping to conclusions, the political grandstanding, and horrible, horrible jokes by mediocre stand-up comedians.
Reading Oswalt’s words, I couldn’t help but think of Roger Ebert, who we lost last week. It’s the kind of thing he might have written if he were still here.