Despite how it feels sometimes, the web isn’t just full of trolls and time-wasting pictures of cats. If you know where to look, you’ll find websites that let you celebrate the wonder (and occasional craziness) of modern life by watching, creating and sharing inspirational things.
Upworthy is a website dedicated to celebrating ‘things that matter’ and spreading them across the internet. It’s full of videos and articles showing people, from celebrities to school students, standing up for human rights, equality and diversity.
If you want to share the inspirational parts of your own life, Instagram and Pinterest let you easily share your own photos or favourite pics from other sources with loved ones, wherever they are. Another new site, Aussie-run Thankful, gives you a place to celebrate and share the things in life you’re thankful for.
The web can sometimes seem like it’s all ‘Me! Me! Me!’, but crowdsourcing sites actually use its ability to reach millions of people to support worthwhile causes. On crowdfunding website Kickstarter,people behind creative projects (from films to art, video games and technology) post their business proposals and raise money from donors. It’s funded some incredible projects, including the Form 1, an affordable 3D printer. Similarly, Australian crowdfunding site Pozible helped fund Kinfolk café in Melbourne, where all profits go towards charity projects for coffee growers in developing countries.
For crowdfunding with a different spin, Kiva is a website that uses microfinance to create social change. On Kiva, you join in on funding small loans (as little as $25) for entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them start, run or improve their businesses. It’s not charity – you get paid back, but while your money is loaned out, it helps people lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
If you want to help closer to home, Australian-based Start Some Good crowdfunds projects tackling social problems here and overseas.
The collective wisdom of the world is on the web, but it can be exhausting trying to find it! These sites reliably provide thought-provoking knowledge that can open up new ways to live and celebrate life.
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a non-profit organisation that started innocuously enough as a technology conference in the eighties. But, since TED began offering its talks about ‘ideas worth spreading’ for free online in 2006, its TED Talks about have been viewed over a billion times. Topics range from the thought-provoking (‘Can technology solve our big problems?’) to the quirky (‘How I hacked online dating’), and have been given by the likes of Steve Jobs and Jamie Oliver.
Or, if you want to delve deeper into a subject you’ve always been interested in, iTunes U lets you download lectures and course content from some of Australia and the world’s greatest universities – free. Delve into ‘Philosophy for Beginners’ at Oxford University, or download Stanford’s mind-bending ‘Advanced Quantum Mechanics’.
And, of course, if you’re looking for some everyday inspiration, Balance online (www.asteronlife.com.au/balance) has all the great articles from the magazine, along with videos, downloads and more.
The web can be an inspiring place, and these sites give you a way to use it to celebrate the small moments and big joys of life.
The Positive Top 5
1. Upworthy – ‘Things that matter. Pass it on.’ Videos about ending poverty sit side-by-side with ones encouraging girls to become engineers.
2. Kiva – These aren’t handouts. Kiva’s microloans give a ‘hand up’ to entrepreneurs in impoverished communities around the world.
3. Etsy and MadeIt – Buy everything from wall art to wedding dresses from artisans around the world through these online craft markets.
4. Lifehacker – Unusual and clever tips (or ‘hacks’) to make your life better.
5. Instagram – Style your digital photos with simple filters and share with family and friends on social media.