The Internet can be a harsh place. Bloggers pick apart celebrities; trolls tweet rude comments; and cyberbullies run rampant all too often. But the Internet does have a soft side.
When I tell friends and family I want to defend online civil liberties as an attorney they point to these examples of the bleak Internet environment. I counter by explaining how a robust Internet allows for unfettered expression, self-realization, and the sharing of ideas among diverse communities. I also emphasize how the Internet is a place where the public can support and encourage others. A recent story reminded me why I value the Internet as an open marketplace. Although this is merely an anecdote, it demonstrates how the Internet can inspire people to be themselves:
A recent patron of a London nightclub took a picture of a man dancing and posted it to a message board with the caption, “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”
Cassandra Fairbanks, a member of an Los Angeles group for women, tweeted the post on Twitter and tried to identify the man using #FindDancingMan. Fairbanks then extended an invitation to him from her woman’s group.
Eventually the group located Sean (the name of the Dancing Man), and he accepted their offer. In the meantime, celebrities such as Pharrell Williams, Ellie Goulding, Moby, and Susan Sarandon showed their support for Sean. They were also invited to the party.
UPDATE (May 27, 2015): Promises fulfilled as #DancingMan enjoys numerous events.