The Internet doesn't usually appear in the media for the most positive of reasons. More often than not, the faceless masses are accused of bullying someone to death or running some sprawling child pornography network. But Internet users can occasionally join up for good rather than evil, like when ...
#6. A Reddit Meme Saves Someone from Cancer
In 2012, a Reddit user creatively named CappnPoopdeck posted a "rage comic" about this one time that his male friend found an unused pregnancy test and decided, as anyone would, to piss on it:
As you can see, the joke is that this dude's results hilariously came up positive for pregnancy. So either it's a terrible endorsement for the accuracy of pregnancy tests, or this guy was mistaken about the specifics of his own plumbing system. But Reddit users had another theory -- as some of them pointed out, a false positive on a pregnancy test for a male can be an indication of cancer. Some users urged CappnPoopdeck's friend to take himself to the doctor and get checked out.
As it turns out, Reddit's diagnosis was correct. The kid who took the test went for a check-up, and they found a small testicular tumor. Evidently, a tumor down there can cause a man's balls to go haywire and start releasing ovarian hormones usually associated with pregnancy, which is what the test picked up. Had CappnPoopdeck not had the presence of mind to meme-ify his friend's hilarious piss shenanigans, the guy would never have thought to check.
If this doesn't bump him up to RearAdmrlPoopdeck, nothing will.
Fortunately, the tumor was small enough and caught early enough that doctors were able to treat it. Yet another life saved by rage comics! We believe that brings the total up to one.
#5. A South African Carjacking Victim Is Rescued by Twitter
With over 10,000 carjacking cases per year in South Africa, you're probably just as likely as not to get street-ganked on your way to work every morning. One South African man learned this the hard way in April 2012 when he set off in his Volkswagen Golf only to be robbed, carjacked, and forced into his own trunk by two armed men northwest of Johannesburg.
Luckily for the victim, these criminal masterminds forgot literally the only thing you have to remember when taking someone hostage -- they left him with his cellphone. The man immediately texted his girlfriend to explain what had happened, and true to the era in which we're living, she sought help, not from the police, but from her Twitter followers:
These twitterers then retweeted the tweet until it spread throughout the twittersphere (oh God, what is this shit doing to our language?) until it reached a popular tweeter by the name of PigSpotter (the account is normally used to warn drivers of police speed traps and road blocks around Johannesburg). When PigSpotter started retweeting, the alert reached 100,000 followers, including a large number of private security forces who had vehicles spread out all across South Africa. At that point, an Internet crusade became a real-life crusade: A volunteer security group called Riga Rescue lent its hands to tracking the victim's cellphone signal, and a company called K9 Security eventually caught a visual of the stolen vehicle.
Ironically enough, the car was stopped at a police roadblock 150 miles away from where the original crime had taken place (you know, one of those roadblocks that PigSpotter became famous for helping his followers avoid).
"That'll do, pig. That'll do."
#4. Facebook Diagnoses an Illness That Doctors Got Wrong
So the guy Reddit helped earlier only thought to see a doctor because Internet strangers told him to. But this next person was already getting advice from a medical professional. It's just that the Internet's advice was better.
Novelist Deborah Kogan woke up to the worst Mother's Day ever when she discovered that her son Leo had a horrid rash and fever, but remembering that a case of strep had been doing the rounds at his school recently, she wasn't too concerned. It would mean a trip to the doctor, and since all moments must be documented with social media photos, Kogan uploaded a picture from her phone to report her disappointment at having to spend Mother's Day at a pediatrician.
"I was told there would be a terrible breakfast in bed, followed by shitty finger paintings ... Promises were made."
The test for strep came back negative, but drawing on his years of schooling and medical experience, the doctor proclaimed that "He looks really streppy" and sent the Kogans on their way with a prescription to treat streptococcus. Leo's symptoms only got worse, and while doctors played pin the tail on WebMD with their diagnoses, Deborah continued posting photos of her ailing son on Facebook. Comments were beginning to stack up, some of them helpful, although many were probably something like "YOU CAN EXPECT MORE OF THIS THANKS TO OBAMA."
But then Kogan was contacted by someone who urged her to take Leo to the hospital -- his symptoms, she observed, matched those of her own son, who had once been diagnosed with something called Kawasaki disease, which sounds like crude police slang for a lethal motorcycle crash but is actually a potentially fatal condition that can cause deadly aneurysms.
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Not to be confused with Harley syndrome, a mental side effect of penile dwarfism.
Kogan disregarded the pediatrician and followed the advice from crowdsourced social networking instead. Guess which one was right?
Leo was swiftly treated for Kawasaki disease and made a full recovery. Kogan later called the family doctor to explain what had happened, and he replied, "Bravo, Facebook," which was the classiest way he could admit to having been out-doctored by a site that is usually only useful for letting us know our aunt earned the "Vegetable Virtuoso" ribbon for her virtual farm.
"That woman is growing an uncomfortable amount of cucumbers and zucchinis."