While the internet can be a scary place, there are still a few rays of light shining from its dark corners. With so much focus on the negative aspects of social media, which definitely exist, we can forget that it’s also possible for us to use these platforms to raise ourselves, and others, up. And because pictures can have a powerful impact, here are the Instagram accounts whose images speak to your heart and say something worthwhile.
The National Geographic account is like a breath of fresh air on your feed. Aside from stunning images from professional photographers working in all corners of the globe, snapping moments in the wild or world culture, the account highlights important issues facing our natural world today. Each post is a reminder that our world is much bigger than our everyday microcosm, much more important than our daily worries, and that each one of us is responsible for the beauty it captures.
Photograph by @PaulNicklen taken while on expedition in Svalbard, Norway // I am asked all of the time to show proof of the effects of a warming climate on Arctic ecosystems. One of the most shocking ones, was this polar bear I found lying dead on the shore of Spitsbergen. While I was still coming to terms with this loss, I looked up and found a second dead polar bear lying nearby. These two bears died in an area of Svalbard that historically has had sea ice year round. A scientific report was later released that they had starved to death due to a lack of sea ice. There are places in Svalbard that are already ice free for up to 6 months a year and without this floating platform from which to hunt, bears are simply unable to catch seals. For #MoreOcean #follow my 2017 return to Svalbard on my @paulnicklen feed as we continue to document this year's disappearing sea ice and its effects on this polar ecosystem. With @sea_legacy and @cristinamittermeier #polarbear
Water is so accessible for us, we don't really think about. Turn on the tap, it's there. But that's not so for many around the world. According to Charity: Water, 663 million people in the world live without clean water, which is about one in 10 people. And it isn't as simple as not having a basic necessity (like that's a simple thing, but, moving on) because not having water readily available means kids missing the opportunity to go to school, or adults not having the time to earn a living because they have to walk for hours to get water. And then it's often water that isn't clean and carries diseases. This awesome organisation funds water programmes in 24 countries around the world in an effort to address this problem, and their account offers knowledge, information, and hope.
We all lead busy lives, and we all have days, weeks - heck - even years that can feel really tough and trying; which makes it really easy to forget or ignore the world around us. But opening our eyes and taking in the small things in life is what keeps us from being overwhelmed by our worries - legitimate or imaginary. The RAK Foundation - that's Random Acts of Kindness, for those who don't know - is full of bite-size pieces of inspiration to bring a little breathing room into your daily grind. It also encourages you to show kindness to others, and makes you believe that even the small things you do can mean the world to others.
You may not recognise her name, but you're bound to recognise her comics. Climo is a cartoon artist, children's book author and illustrator, as well as an animator for The Simpsons. Her adorable posts full of her amazingly heartwarming animal characters will bring a smile to your face, and remind you to cherish your friendships.
The New Yorker
Following this account is like getting a handy running commentary of the day's events, delivered in easy bite-size chunks, From snarky comics to brilliant photography, or inspirational portraits to human moments from around the world, The New Yorker reminds us that our world is bigger than the lives we live.
Yes, it's important to live in the present, but we must also never forget our past. History is full of #ThisDayinHistory posts that makes you feel more connected to the past, also that any ordinary day has the potential for greatness. Not only full of interesting historical facts, this account also boasts incredible photography.
World Wildlife Fund
The WWF doesn't only work to protect animals around the world, their work also tries to address problems with the ocean, food, and climate of our world. Their account is full of useful information about the many issues plaguing our world today, and ways you can help. Stunning animal photography paired with knowledge to make us more self-aware? Yes, please!
Hannah Shaw's isn't just another cute cat account, she's an animal rights advocate who's dedicated her life to rescuring, rehabilitating, and re-homing kittens. Shaw has a wealth of knowledge on how to care of orphan kittens, how to take care of very young cats. Even though she's based in the US her devotion to her work will inspire you to seek out ways you can make a difference to the animals in your home city. One of her most recent rescues is a tiny kitten she and her boyfriend (cat photographer Andrew Marttila, whose account you should also follow!) found at the foot of Machu Picchu during their holiday in Peru. The pair then frantically found information and help on getting the kitten home to America so she find a forever home. (All together now: awwwwww!)
Can you blame us for sneaking ourselves in here! Young Post speaks to and for the young people of Hong Kong. Our account is bursting with funny and random posts to brighten up your day, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at the YP team and the work that we and our amazing cadets and junior reporters do. Oh, and did we mention there are plenty of fun competitions and giveaways, too?