For many, online platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become a toxic wasteland of cruel memes and vicious comments. Social media is the source of blame for everything from the widening of political polarization to the proliferation of false information to radicalizing youth to commit heinous crimes.
Such a reputation is, unfortunately, deserved in many instances, but there are still some bright corners of social media that remind everyone of the good that can be accomplished when people who think beyond owning their perceived ideological opposites come together.
Take, for instance, the Clay County Mud Runners, a group of people who enjoy driving trucks, ATVs and all manner of other vehicles on the county’s numerous trails. They formed a Facebook group about five years ago that now has 1,400 members, according to a story from Ameilia Ferrell Knisely in Wednesday’s editions of the Gazette-Mail.
The group quickly became an asset to the community, hosting events during which they sold merchandise to help the less fortunate. The money has gone toward everything from covering funeral expenses to providing supplies to young students with no real financial support system heading to college. They’ve assisted with medical expenses, dispensed stuffed backpacks to children without school supplies and helped provide groceries to those who couldn’t afford them.
The Mud Runners, which became an official nonprofit earlier this year, have become so well known they are now helping people beyond Clay County. Those who know someone in need feel free to reach out to the group on Facebook because of the reputation the Mud Runners have built through their charitable actions. And many outside the group have begun making donations or bringing in needed supplies when a particular case comes to their attention.
It’s a vital service. Nearly 25 percent of Clay County residents are living in poverty. Even more commendable is so many Clay County residents provide funds or needed materials despite their own financial hardships.
This is social media at its best, connecting people in order to meet needs and truly making an impact in a local community. It’s not as easy as leaving a crass comment on someone’s timeline, but it is infinitely superior. The Clay County Mud Runners are a noteworthy example of how good not only social media, but, more importantly, people themselves, can be when connected and united in a worthy cause.