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Jewish World Review
Oct 20, 2011
/ 22 Tishrei, 5772
The Internet: Doing The Heavy Uplifting
If you have access to the Internet, or live within shouting distance of someone who does, then this past week you probably watched the wildly popular YouTube video of Sarah Churman, a 29-year-old deaf woman who, after receiving cochlear implants, was able to hear for the first time.
The video takes place in a doctor's office and shows Ms. Churman's reaction at the precise moment a lab technician turns on the implant device. I've viewed this video at least a half-dozen times, and I can unequivocally state that it is the most inspiring 90-second video you will ever see that consists almost entirely of a woman crying (Presumably, she is crying because of the emotion of the moment, and not because the technician decided that Sarah's first audible sound should be a recording of, say, Fran Drescher's voice).
Unquestionably, one of the great benefits of the Internet in general, and YouTube in particular, is the way viral videos like this one get distributed nearly instantaneously to millions of people. Today, any time you're feeling a little down, you're never more than a few mouse clicks away from an inspirational story that will make you feel good to be alive, whether it's seeing high school student Jason McElwain, who has autism, raining down three-pointers during his one and only basketball game appearance, watching the emotional reunion in Africa between those two young men from England and their former pet lion cub, Christian, or re-experiencing that sublime moment when Susan Boyle opened her mouth and proved to Simon Cowell and the world that something beautiful can come from inside a source that -- let's be honest -- isn't necessarily all the much to look at on the outside.
For the vast majority of human history, of course, sharing uplifting stories was much more difficult, and could typically only be accomplished through word of mouth. Not to mention that during, say, the Middle Ages, truly inspiring stories were in pretty short supply:
First Serf: Hey, did you hear the amazing news about Jakob the tailor in the next town over?
Second Serf: Jakob the tailor? I thought he had the plague.
First Serf: He did, and he was supposed to die a long, drawn-out, miserable, painful death.
Second Serf: So what happened? Was he miraculously healed?
First Serf: No, he was gored by an ox instead!
Second Serf: What a relief!
But of course, just as the Internet giveth inspiration through videos depicting the triumph of the human spirit, so also does the Internet taketh away that very same inspiration as soon as you scroll down and read some of the obnoxious, hostile and frequently grammatically-challenged comments left by certain viewers.
In the Sarah Churman video, the negative comments mostly involve accusations that the scene was staged, that Churman is not really deaf, that there is no such thing as "hearing," etc. One frequently cited piece of evidence supporting the hoax claim is that Sarah speaks pretty clearly which, according to many commenters, is impossible for someone who is actually deaf. This evaluation is usually backed up with an explanation like, "My cousin went to summer camp with a guy who said his neighbor's uncle was completely deaf, and he couldn't talk that well, so this must be a fake."
Naturally, other commenters pushed back against this nearly airtight argument, vainly attempting to explain that Ms. Churman might have partial hearing loss and still count as "hearing impaired" and that interventions and therapies today help even those with no hearing to speak more clearly than ever before. To which the original commenter thoughtfully replied that his critics are %#&@$-ers and should shut the &$#% up.
JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.
08/31/11: Unhealthy Behavior? I Won't Stand For It!
12/01/10: It's Getting Better All The Time
08/24/10: Turn Down The Stereo(types)
06/24/10: The No Roamin' Holiday
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04/19/10: The Bossman Cometh
03/25/10: The Rules of Interaction
01/09/10: A ride of passage
12/26/09: The Family Power Struggle Goes On…
10/26/09: Rapidly approaching fuddyduddy-hood
06/20/09: Waging a backyard turf war
02/20/09: The Sties Have It
04/30/09: Planning of the Apes
04/08/09: No more phoning it in
02/26/09: Tuning in to the English Channel
02/19/09: 25 AND COUNTING
02/13/09: A new life, dead ahead
01/29/09: NOW STARRING ... EVERYBODY!
01/15/09: You know the type
01/08/09: Just in time, here comes 2009
11/20/08: Hotels go for the green
11/06/08: Something does not compute
10/30/08: Early adopters tech their chances
10/21/08: Cyberspace invaders
10/21/08: Keeping up disappearances
09/17/08: Victims of math hysteria
08/07/08: My newfound sense of self (promotion)
06/24/08: Getting the brand back together
05/29/08: Phrased and confused
05/13/08: Take this job and love it
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04/02/08: Commercial (over)load
02/20/08: An overdose of reality
02/14/08: A developing situation
01/30/08: I can tech it or leave it
01/02/08: Confessions of a coke addict
01/02/08: Our bills are due
12/13/07: Going (to lunch) once, going twice…
11/28/07: Out with the old
11/06/07: My latest pet project
11/06/07: Can't tune it out
10/23/07: Something special in the hair
09/12/07: Can I have your attention, please?
09/12/07: Houston, we have an image problem
08/21/07: In the heat of fashion
08/09/07: Let's get in the game
06/13/07: You gonna eat that?
05/08/07: That's disinter-tainment
05/02/07:You Are (not) Getting Sleepy...
04/18/07: No time like Father Time
03/15/07: Deface the Nation
03/08/07: More gifts? You shouldn't have
02/22/07: Relationships can be such a chore
12/05/06: Who's calling the shots?
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10/27/06: Some skills are beyond repair
10/18/06: You can't tech it with you
10/04/06: Award to the wise
08/24/06: Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
02/15/06: Today's toys: Where learning means earning
© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner