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Charlie Pickering: How Batkid might just save the world.

“There’s something about this photo that just gets me.”

There’s something about this photo that just gets me. Maybe it’s the way that Batkid’s costume is just that little bit too big; maybe it’s the undeniable sense of purpose in his stride; maybe it’s the crowd of complete strangers cheering him on.

His real name is Miles and he has been battling Leukaemia. But for one amazing day the Make A Wish Foundation, with the assistance of the Police Department, news media and over 7,000 volunteers, turned his home town of San Francisco into Gotham city and called upon Batkid to save the day. Aided by Batman (his father) and Robin (his brother) he apprehended the Riddler and the Penguin and saved the city.

The first I knew of it was this photo which stopped me in my tracks on the weekend. I had a lump in my throat. I could feel tears welling up in a way that usually only happens during Pixar movies. I was at once hooked on #BatKid. And the great thing is that if you were any human in the world with access to the internet at that moment, there was a pretty good chance you were feeling the same way.

Staggering technological advances in our lifetime have meant that, as a global community, we are able to share moments and events in real time in a way that is truly remarkable. But have you ever noticed how they’re usually really crap?

Disasters like the typhoon in the Phillipines or the Tsunami in Japan, terrifying attacks like September 11 or the Boston Bombings, personal tragedies like Oscar Pestroius shooting Reeva Steenkamp, gigantic bummers like Lehman Brothers going under triggering the GFC or trivial nonsense like Kanye being a dick to Taylor Swift, or Miley Cyrus graphically confirming her liking of sex. These are our viral moments.

There is something about negativity that spreads like wildfire. If it’s a ‘SCANDAL’ an ‘OUTRAGE’ a ‘TRAGEDY’ or a ‘DISASTER’ we’re almost certain to click. If it’s a whole lot of people piling hate on someone for something that won’t be important in a week, even better. These are the kind of fear-based trigger points that tabloids and politicians thrive on. Without us really being aware of it, they are appeals to the worst in our nature and with the help of social media we give in to them as easily as breathing.

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I was starting to believe that this was really just the nature of things. That for all the potential that lies in connecting the world, we would never get over ourselves long enough to see any of that potential. And I’m not the only one. The proliferation of stories about cyber bullying, the ubiquity of terms like trolling and the never-ending stream of anonymous bile pumped through keyboards into cyberspace had a lot of people asking ‘is it always going to be this shit?’

And then Batkid came along to save Gotham. And in doing so quite possibly saved the world.

The scale of what the Make A Wish Foundation Achieved is almost beyond words. From the video message by the actual San Francisco Police Chief asking for Batkid’s help, to the apprehension of the Riddler and the Penguin, to a reception on the steps on City Hall and a presentation of the key to the city.

But what makes it truly miraculous was how much the rest of the world wanted to participate. Crowds lined the streets cheering Batkid on, President Obama sent a vine message congratulating him on saving Gotham, the 49ers football team thanked him for making the city safe for them to play in, people from around the world tweeted thank you messages and the next morning this was the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Batkid was front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Like millions of others around the world, following this story as it unfolded felt like I was floating on air. In a week where local news was taken up by some of the most depressing examples of us at our worst, the story of Batkid and our fascination with it showed us all at our best.

The Make A Wish Foundation set out to take a kid who’s had to deal with way too much grown up stuff and let him enjoy his childhood imagination. The entire world sharing that one day of pure joy did the same thing for us too. Batkid showed us that good can triumph over evil. Let’s hope we remember it.

Click through the gallery below for some of the images of Batkid saving the world.

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