If someone were curious enough to ask me about my jobs as a writer or photographer, I could roll out a long list of reasons I love all of it. Getting to meet new people. Getting out for an abundance of various activities. A never-stop-moving lifestyle.
Man, do I ever love it. It fits me.
But not until recently did it hit me: I love what I do mostly because it involves bragging about other people.
Just last Friday I attended a high school football game in our area. I shot pics of the game for our newspaper, meaning I had the chance to do some photographic bragging about some of the players.
I also happened to get a photo of a young lady from Alto High School. A cheerleader, she joined the band at halftime and played the drums. I’ve seen small-school bands plenty of times before that featured some of the football players coming out of the locker room to march and play an instrument. I’ve always thought that was incredibly cool, but Friday was the first time I’d ever seen a cheerleader playing the drums.
I shared the pic on my Facebook page, hoping my friends in Alto would appreciate it.
Would you believe that pic got nearly 1,500 likes and nearly 900 shares? The young lady — I learned her name is Adilyn Henley — received praise from folks all around the country. She deserves every bit of it. I’m actually pretty proud of my little social media brag fest. I was just hoping to recruit a couple of local people to shine a little spotlight on Adilyn, but a whole audience chimed in to sing her praises.
The week before, I witnessed a young lady playing for her college soccer team score three goals — on her birthday. Man. Who gets to do that? Did I brag about Fernanda? Danged right I did. Blew up her pic on Twitter and let everyone else know how awesome she is.
On Saturday, I got to introduce and shoot pics of Hayden Baker, a former Angelina College baseball player who’s now making waves as a musician. He’s one heck of a musician, and he made All-Conference as a baseball player, but he’s an even better dude. Did I love bragging about him? You’re danged skippy I did.
Working in small-town media means I get to witness the good stuff. I get to brag about others who merit whatever attention they receive. I get to see other writers and photographers introduce us to women and men of all ages who otherwise might not receive credit for what they do.
Man, I need those people in my life. I can’t even watch national news on television nowadays. The major networks have a formula they follow: Slap me all over my living room with tragedy, crime and scandal for 59 minutes before leaving me with one little shred of good news at the very end. The tiny little feel-good sliver does no more to overcome the near hour of beat-down than a seat cushion does in a plane crash.
Such doom, despair and agony on me is exactly why I reach for my hometown newspaper every morning. The front pages will always carry the day’s most pressing news, and unfortunately, it isn’t always good, especially on the national level. Somebody’s always going to do something wrong or just plain sleazy. If it happens in my community, I want to know about it. Ignorance may be bliss, but awareness is crucial.
But those front pages also give me my reasons for maintaining some semblance of faith in humanity. Students making honor rolls and dean’s lists. A local business building a roof for a veteran who needed it. Area residents receiving awards for doing their best to make our communities better. Our ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things.
Real news. Good news. We writers and photographers have the privilege of doing the bragging. I love it.
Life is hard. The world can be a cold, dark place at times. And some people just plain suck at being human. Finding the good in any of it sometimes feels like digging for a diamond at the bottom of a cow pile. It’s a wonder the Creator hasn’t just sighed in resignation and pulled the “flush” handle on the whole planet.
It’s why we need more bragging about others, especially in our own communities. We need people calling into the newspaper to let us know when someone is deserving of recognition. There are good, good people out there, and we should hear about them all.
Bragging about others is fun, but it seems hard for some folks. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or just an overall bitterness with life, but there are those who could find reasons to cuss a puppy. Others will offer bragging aplenty, but only if it’s about themselves.
We’re not in a competition, y’all. Nobody wins a “Best Day” trophy at the end of the day. We’re not all walking around with a “Favorite Person” poll following us. It’s perfectly OK — and for me, mentally healthy — to look for and find the good in others.
And when we find ’em, let’s brag about ’em.
It’s fun. It’s necessary.
And we all deserve to hear about it.