6 Inspiring Ways Internet Mobs Have Come to the Rescue
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 ...
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.
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."
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.
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."
A Tourist Lost on Ice Is Saved by a Webcam
St. Peter-Ording is a little town in northern Germany with some apparently beautiful coastlines, so much so that they've set up a live webcam feed for anyone in the world who wants to see for themselves, but not badly enough that they're willing to get out of their chair to do it. Of course, northern Germany in the winter is a blasted arctic wasteland, so viewers at this time of year aren't treated to the most impressive spectacle.
Yet, for whatever reason, somebody on the opposite end of the country happened to be watching the live feed one winter evening, because when you get bored enough on the Internet you'll watch anything. The unnamed woman, who we're assuming had another browser window open to, we don't know, play Bejeweled or something, somehow noticed an odd flashing light in the webcam feed. And somehow, she figured out that it was a goddamn person trapped on the fucking ice.
"If you can see this please send help ... preferably Batman."
A tourist in St. Peter-Ording had decided to wander outside to take some photographs of the sunset. Being that the North Sea was entirely frozen at the time, the photographer just kept walking until he realized he was standing on the ocean and couldn't figure out which direction land was. With the sun going down, any attempt to start walking was destined to end in him falling through the ice or freezing to death, or some combination of the two.
So, he did the only thing he could think to do under the circumstances, which was to use the flash on his camera in the hope that someone would see it up on the shore. But no one was there to see it. His only audience were faceless Internet viewers who under normal circumstances would worry only about how to turn his frozen corpse into a humorous image macro.
Instead, this anonymous watcher hundreds of miles away called the police and somehow was able to explain why these weird flashes she saw on a webcam feed justified a rescue effort in the area. The police headed out and realized that this was not some arcane 4chan prank, but an actual stranded hiker out on the ice. They were able to lure him back on shore by flashing their own lights at him to show the way. Then he probably went home and made a rage comic about it.
Crowdsourcers Improve Cancer Treatment
For all our modern 21st century medical accomplishments, cancer still pretty much has us beat. The treatments involve a whole menagerie of chemicals that may or may not be effective depending on what kind of cancer a patient has. These millions of variables are what have kept an effective "cure" for cancer so elusive. Puzzling through it is the kind of task that would require a whole bank of supercomputers ... or simply harnessing the power of the Internet's boredom.
"Throw in some cat pics and I'm in."
Cancer Research UK created an online interactive database called Click to Cure that invites Internet users to aid in the fight against cancer, as long as they're willing to do a boring, repetitive task for free. Well, shit, that's what we were doing anyway!
The idea came from projects developed by astronomers to use crowdsourcing to document millions of galaxies. And even though slides of human tissue are, as a whole, a lot less enthralling to look at than the eternal mysteries of the deep cosmos, people seem to be taking up the cause. When users log in to Click to Cure, they are met with a quick tutorial that demonstrates how to racially profile the cancer cells by identifying their irregular shape and yellow color. After this, they're shown a series of slides and asked to identify what they see in each and note the proportion of irregular cells that exist. This information gives crucial insight to researchers in determining which treatments are effective for each different type of cancer cell.
"We were going to add a comment section, but figured it'd just be filled with bitching about it being a slideshow."
Remember, this is time that people could spend looking at free porn and YouTube videos of animals doing amusing things that they have instead been dedicating to trawling through boring images of cells and rating their yellowness. Hey, it's still better than working.
At the time this article went to print, the combined force of cancer hatred on the Internet has analyzed over 700,000 of these cancerous images, and Cancer Research UK is convinced that a major cancer breakthrough is buried somewhere within their data. They estimate that they can condense research that normally would have taken years into only a few months. Hell, if they could have found a way for us to masturbate while doing this, cancer would have been cured already.
A Website Buys a Dream Home for a Wounded Soldier
On May 31, 2012, John Resig, co-owner of photo entertainment website TheCHIVE.com, took a break from posting his usual content of attractive women in skimpy bikinis to post the story of Taylor Morris. Morris had been in the U.S. Navy's Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit, the team that disarms al-Qaida's improvised explosive devices so that the military don't get themselves blown up -- precisely the job that was popularized in The Hurt Locker.
"I was really into Minesweeper as a kid."
In early 2012, near Kandahar, Afghanistan, Morris was leading a team of Army Special Forces when he stepped on a bomb and was put in the very unenviable position of having to watch all of his limbs fly off. After returning to the hospital to recover, Morris would have to adjust to living the remainder of his life a quadruple amputee, which is basically getting a full house in a game of Sucks To Be You Poker.
Morris' expenses were fully covered by the Navy, but in a conversation with Resig, he mentioned that it had always been a dream for him and his girlfriend to own a log cabin in the woods on a lake. Resig could have nodded and replied that he'd like to own a houseboat made of cocaine, but instead he went to the CHIVE to describe his friend's plight.
The goal was to raise $30,000 for a down payment on Morris' dream home. The actual raised amount 12 hours after the Chivers started donating was $250,000, which was more than enough for Taylor to build his dream home, as well as meet the president and be fitted with prosthetic limbs. This Internet thing might work out after all.
Jeff Sloan would like to follow you on his Twitter machine, and will also thoroughly consider being your friend on Facebook.
For more reasons the Internet isn't all that bad, check out 13 Awesome Photos That Will Make You Happy to Be Alive and The 12 Most Strangely Satisfying Videos on the Internet.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Things We Already Know About the Next Iron Man Movie.
Want to know how to go mano-a-mano with a president? Daniel O'Brien can help with How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country.