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.