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It's time to amplify the good

When I graduated college in 2003, we used to post all the news in the middle of the night, if we put it on the web at all.

I remember once arguing with an editor to the point that I was almost fired over whether or not to post a story online because I didn’t want to alert our competitors.

Oh, how things have changed.

The news now is instant with journalists and non-journalists alike using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and old-fashioned websites get the news to the world in seconds rather than days. And that ability to reach the masses in real time has become a two-way street, with comment sections and social media allowing anyone who has a thought to post it for the world to see.

And while thoughtful ideas that might otherwise have not been heard can now be broadcast to anyone and everyone, so, too, can the hateful, negative and awful thoughts of others.

Unfortunately, the latter, while the minority, is often the loudest and either drowns out or scares away real dialogue.

I was the digital editor at the Register Star for a year and a half, and I saw it firsthand on so many of the stories we posted. A great story about volunteers building houses for Habitat for Humanity would get so few page views and little or no likes on Facebook while a minor crime brief would explode online. All the while, people complained that there was no good news in the paper or online.

It was always there. Still is. But with social media, the more a post is liked, clicked on, shared or commented on, the more people see it. And those bad news stories would be amplified, while the good news shriveled and died.

So, I started Happy Rockford because there has to be a positive place for people to focus on the good happening in this community. If we see that, we can build on it. And that’s how Rockford lives up to its potential.

We have helped fund school projects on, gotten the word out about volunteer opportunities, shared news about projects in the community and much more. We hope to be a place where people come to get involved or simply to smile when they see all the great things happening here.

I tip my hat to Rockford Proud and anyone who is trying to boost civic participation and pride. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s one of the many ingredients necessary to make this city better going forward.

A big theme here in Rockford is how bad of a place this is to live.

Let me be clear: there is a lot of crime here, taxes are high and civic pride could use a shot in the arm. We should recognize those things because there’s no way to fix problems you haven’t faced.

But we can’t build on the positive if we only see the negative. It’s time to amplify the good.

Please, help us spread the positive news in this community. Share this post or others on Rockford Proud and Happy Rockford. Tell someone to like our pages on Facebook. (Here’s Rockford Proud and Happy Rockford.)

If more people see the great things that are happening here and get involved, soon enough it will be the naysayers who feel uncomfortable on the comment sections. And maybe, over time, they will also see how hard-working people with a vision can make a greater community.

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