I remember when I first started reading the news. I was in high school, desperate to feel like an informed individual who had far more intellectual capacity than I actually did. I scoured front pages of news websites, hacked my parents' New York Times subscription, and tried to feel progressive by listening to NPR. All of this was perfectly amazing for its intended purpose until I started to realize that the things being thrown at me, the stories I was supposed to read, were about bombings and partisanship and nuclear threats. While these things are all very important and by no means should we feel they don't belong in our news cycle, there was something missing -- good news.
Some people look at good news as a fireman saving a cat from a tree, or a young boy helping an old woman across the street, but good news comes in many forms. Often from these tragic circumstances that front pages slam in your faces are the circumstances of individuals whose courage and integrity help them overcome such strife. These are the sorts of stories I wanted mixed into my daily news consumption. I wanted to read articles and watch videos of people that made me feel like things could change, like there might be a glimmer of something positive and teachable in these horrible moments we often find ourselves attaching to.
When I finally came to accept that my intellectual capacity probably wasn't that of astrophysicist, and more in tune with that of a writer, which isn't really saying that much, these stories became all the more important. The interesting thing about writing is that it somehow manages to bring you into places you never thought you'd have access to. It took a while. A long path of trying to write about moments from my perfectly happy and less than interesting childhood to find what I wanted to write about, what I wanted to share with people. I was inspired by tragedy, by hardship, by bad situations that I (fortunately) had never found myself in. Suddenly "write what you know" wasn't applicable. At this point, somewhere around the middle of the never-ending search for passion that is college, I looked at the news differently. It was no longer to just be informed and be progressive, or cool, or smart. It was to push me to do what I felt like I was meant to do.
Yet I ran into the same difficulties. I found a lot of things interesting. I wanted to learn about politics and international relations. But for me, stories were about people, specifically, and secondarily about situations. You don't have to be a writer to realize that people are what make up society, not groups, not points of view, people. But a lot of the time, the people who matter, the ones who are changing things, whether it's in their small neighborhood in middle America or a factory in China, get lost in the noise of totally valid and important things. The bombardment of tragedy isn't necessarily a bad thing, because we can learn from it. Really, there is no bad thing, we, as the population of Earth are doing a lot of things right. However, it's very, very hard to learn from and be inspired by general difficulty. It's hard to be motivated to change by anything general for that matter.
As a normal person, not a member of the necessarily intellectual elite (which I've accepted by this point in my young life), I need something to hold onto, to cherish about a situation, to feel connected to. I want access points. If there's any hope for me or other normal people to really change and feel inspired, to help right a lot of the tragic wrongs that we read about everyday, we need to know the people who we're helping. We need to know the people who struggle to help themselves. The spectrum hardship is vast. We all experience it, and we all find ways to overcome it. I don't know that people would be inspired by how I overcame the difficulties of figuring out who the hell I really was in college, but I know for a fact that there are people out there who are so extraordinary and who are doing such amazing things to better the world around them, that we won't be able to help but be inspired.
I suppose this isn't really a sort of PSA, or a request to pledge your overall interest in inspirational and happy news, but more of hope that we can become even a little bit more aware of not what is out there, but who. Because when it boils down to it, there are no events without individuals. There is not tragedy without people. And there's definitely no hope without those that are willing to turn tragedy around. I truly believe that we all want to find out about those people. And the stories are out there. The Internet is a deep sea of treasures waiting to be unlocked and discovered; we just need to dive down, into the darkness, sometimes into the heartbreak, to find them.
We all search for our passions. I spent four years of college trying somehow to figure out mine, as I'm sure many others did too. I continue to narrow down exactly what is that gets me excited and fires me up. Whatever anyone's fire may be, whatever that thing that makes you want to get up in the morning is, there's always going to be room for the inspiration of other people to help that thing grow inside of you. We all have our roles. We all have the things we are going to face and not going to face, and this separation is what makes us human and unique from one another. But, the more we can learn from each other about what it means to be strong and motivated and good, the better and more passionate we are bound to be.
I've felt this way for a while. It was only recently that I started to realize we have the tools to bring these stories to life. It's already happening, there are already places to go and find these sorts of stories. But there isn't really a place for us to share with one another, as normal people who check their Facebook and Twitter and Instagram feeds every hour. So, I've decided to assume a bit more intellect and start an online, social media-based community, The Upside, launching this month on various platforms. This will be a place to find, share, and communicate about stories, about people doing good and overcoming all this important tragedy. Because in the end, don't we all just want to feel a little bit better everyday?