With Christmas a week away there is a lot of talk of Santa, wishes, and miracles happening. This time of year can be tough for people who don’t have a lot or who want something special for someone else in their lives. I feel lucky to have witnessed two really interesting and spontaneous acts of miracle making on the internet lately that have helped me to remember that there are truly good strangers out there in the world. That’s the easiest thing to forget during this time of hustle, bustle, insanity, and chaos.
The first thing that happened, and that is still happening, has to do with Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking. Regular readers will remember that Geoff and I were there for the book drop party at Porter Sq Books and that we got a signed copy. It was hilarious and touching and musical and fun and all of the things that you want a gathering with famous people you admire to be.
Then something happened. It started on Twitter. It started with people talking about wanting to read the book but not having enough money to buy it. Amanda Palmer retweeted their requests to her followers and other people stepped up and offered to buy a copy or pass along their copy to complete strangers.
Complete and total strangers around the world were suddenly buying and sharing books with one another in an ad-hoc Twitter system and the author, who in theory makes money on the sales, was encouraging people to share the book, go to the local library, borrow it, etc. A community was jelling around the concept of asking for and receiving this.
Then Mass Mosaic happened. Someone on Twitter suggested that it might be a good platform to formalize the asking and giving process for the book. And, it was perfect. You can check it out here. It has been weeks now and it is still going strong. People are reaching out to one another from around the globe to ask and receive and it is totally based on trust. It’s heart warming and amazing.
In another corner of the internet, though one not entirely removed, The Bloggess and a taxidermied boar head named James Garfield are making miracles. A few years ago The Bloggess sort of accidentally stumbled into a need and helped fill it. Then her readers started to pitch in when the need proved to be even greater than anyone initially realized. The details are hilarious and they’re here.
It has now become an annual thing. And this year the comments on her holiday post, the money raised for Project Night Night, Heifer International, and other groups is amazing. Also, like Amanda Palmer’s giant book swap, there is a direct human to human component that is astonishing. Some people are single parents and can’t put anything under the tree for their kids, some are on the verge of losing their homes, others have gofundme sites up for murdered friends and are trying to get them a decent burial. Some just want a letter or a Christmas card because they’re spending this family and friend intensive time of year alone or are lonely. Others, like me, aren’t asking for anything but don’t have anything to contribute other than compassion and admiration. That’s OK too.
Reading the post, which is here, is heart breaking, hilarious, and heartwarming all at the same time. I haven’t even finished reading all of it yet, but I read a little each night before bed and I go to sleep knowing that there are good people out there in the world. It just sometimes takes the magic of the internet, the strength to ask, and a little trust to find them.