I’m on a plane flying home from LA right now. That means I just spent $6 to access internet for what will probably be a less than an hour flight. Normally I use my flight time as an exercise in unplugging so I can catch up on the books that normally collect dust next to my bed, but today is a different day.
Today is the day Batkid came to San Francisco.
Miles, a 5 year old boy who just beat leukemia this summer after battling it for many years, has become a superhero. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, famous for granting large and small wishes to kids with terminal illnesses has outdone itself by teaming up with the city of San Francisco to provide a real-life Batman experience for Miles. The idea was well-planned: they set up damsels in distress, Riddlers and Penguins whose plans Miles could foil, and obtained beautiful black Lamborghinis to deck out in all the coolest Batman gear. Miles was to go through the makeshift Gotham city saving the day again and again as Batkid and ultimately live his dream of being a superhero.
But thanks to the power of social media, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was able to provide an amazing experience beyond just Miles and his family. Once the story hit the Internet a few weeks ago, this project found itself inundated with requests for volunteering, ending up with over 11,000 (!!) people asking to participate.
And then the day arrived. Today: November 15, 2013. Immediately #Batkid topped the Twitter trend list, and as of 2:30pm it has not yet come down.
The Earth has literally mobilized. People all over the world are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news sites – anything they can do to access this amazing story of people coming together to make one child smile. And in accessing it, people are sharing, giving those unable to be present (like myself) a glimpse into the heartwarming story that has spread itself to the far reaches of the Web.
In sharing through social media, people have surpassed the original goal of making Miles’ wish come true: #Batkid has created a makeshift Gotham community for the makeshift Gotham City. Except that it’s a real community. Millions of strangers are connecting worldwide to share in a story that makes them feel good about humanity and each other, and it’s a beautiful thing.
For all that social media desensitizes us, saturates us, and provides us with a nonstop assault of information about shootings, killings, and all the bad things in the world, it can be used for good, too. It’s moments like these that prove how powerful a tool social media can be at bringing people together for the good of humanity, how it can provide a portal into the stories that help us keep going. In this particular case, a story about the insurmountable spirit of a little boy who never gave up even in the face of death. As @FunnyorDie puts it:
Even if the Riddler is an actor, even if that black Lamborghini will go back into someone’s garage, there will be a lasting impact. People will remember this day.
Thank you #Batkid for truly and genuinely saving the day. You are a hero.
Read the full story on Buzzfeed, where most of these photos are from (aggregated from the web).