How Social Media Can Change Lives

If you’re not following “Humans of New York” on social media, you are missing out. Photographer Brandon Stanton, who runs the accounts has been taking street portraits accompanied by a small caption for the past 5 years, often highlighting peoples fears, struggles, and greatest accomplishments. Recently, one post in particular stood out.

On January 19th, Brandon interviewed a young kid from a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn. This kid spoke about the most influential person in his life: his principal Ms. Lopez. The student’s story about his principal was about the hope and compassion she instilled in her students. Soon after the story was posted, people began commenting on the Facebook page about how amazing Principal Lopez must be. The Humans of New York community is usually very supportive and positive, but this story really struck a chord. Today, the post has generated over 1 million likes and over 19,000 comments.

Now this is where things get interesting and can speak to the fact that social media can change lives and, yes, the world.

Brandon followed up a few days later telling the community that he had the opportunity to not only meet Ms. Lopez, but also sit in meetings and tour the school. He shared an idea that was born from a brainstorming session with Ms. Lopez and her staff.

“We want to create a fund that will provide each incoming 6th grade class at Mott Hall Bridges Academy a chance to get out of their neighborhood and visit a new place. And that place is Harvard University. I want every child who enters my school to know that they can go anywhere, and that they will belong.” – Principal Lopez

Soon after, Brandon posted a link directing to a page where the HONY community could contribute to the fund, and contribute they did. In the first 5 minutes he raised $5,000. Within the first half hour they reached $30,000, the amount it would take to send a full class to Harvard. In less than an hour they surpassed their initial goal of $100,000. Today the fund has grown to $700,000 and continues to increase. The fundraiser is slated to continue until February 5, which almost guarantees the program at Motts Hall Bridges Academy will be around for a decade or longer.

Think about how many kids this trip could empower, how many lives will be forever changed with a field trip. The impact will be immeasurable and incredibly beneficial, all from a simple Facebook post and a passionate online community. Imagine what we can accomplish by sharing educational information and starting fundraisers for causes around the world through social media.

Social media is the perfect medium to leverage for good. People are comfortable commenting and providing sights in real-time to a group of strangers. Once people connect emotionally to content being shared, we can change perceptions, provide clean water to third world countries, and send underprivileged kids to school. The better question might be what can’t we do!

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