Small miracle: Mother and child video tailor made for social media and vice versa.

December 9, 2011

A simple doctor’s office video of an 8-month old baby, born deaf, experiencing hearing for the first time has captured millions of people’s hearts, including mine. When I shared it on Facebook it quickly amassed “likes” and comments well beyond the usual. I’m not surprised. Content like this is tailor made for social media and vice versa. Small but genuine miracles such as these fit perfectly on tablets, laptops and cell phones. Right there with talking dogs, pepper-sprayed protesters and passed-out celebrities. Save for one big difference: a total lack of sensationalism.

Yes, there’s drama. Upon hearing his mother coo, little Jonathon turns to face her, losing his pacifier at the very moment he gains his hearing. Good stuff, but it’s highly mundane, in that nothing unexpected or undesired occurs in the video. There are no props. The remarkable technology responsible for baby Jonathon’s hearing remains unseen. And still it’s riveting.

There are lessons here for everyone, especially marketers obsessed with You Tube views and grabbing attention. First, those of us who criticize social media as vulgar conduit or dehumanizing would be hard-pressed to find fault here. The human condition has been validated, spiritually and scientifically. All that is right in our modern world is on display. Second, the subjects of the video are deserving of attention -and not because they are unlike us but rather because they are just like us. Good people receiving great gifts. Happiness. It’s nice to know there can be awe without shock. Are you listening, Adland?

This is not to say the video’s execution is without artistry. Albeit unintentional there is profundity in the shot’s composition. Not to sound like an art-history professor, but the three principals (mom, baby and the doctor) evoke the iconic imagery of countless religious paintings, frescoes and murals: that of Madonna and Child surrounded by angels. Whether one is Christian or not, we are moved by this trinity.

Mother & Child, captivating imagery since Day 1

While the Internet and its social offspring have changed our world immeasurably, and not always for the better, this small recording and countless others like it, restore my belief in the human condition online and off.

2 Responses to “Small miracle: Mother and child video tailor made for social media and vice versa.”

  1. Sarah Shea said

    I, too, take comfort in social media with purpose. I may be guilty of watching one too many Jenna Marbles videos or following @[insert xyz here]problems accounts on Twitter, but occasionally the good in social media completely blows me away. One of my favorite social media “campaigns” is that of Rachel Beckwith, a pint-sized advocate for charity: water. After she asked to donate to charity: water for her birthday and passed away shortly after, her story spread like wildfire. Combined social and traditional media helped her raise more than $1 million for the charity, not even being there to see her dreams exceeded.

    While different cases, I think small stories like baby Jonathon’s and Rachel’s help us see the light in new media.

    -Sarah Shea
    Platform Magazine

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