I Found This Today
IN NEED OF SOMETHING TO COUNTER THE INCREASING POLITICAL DISCORD ON FACEBOOK, JIM NICHOLS HAS FOUND A GEM THAT IS RESONATING WITH OTHERS.
Story & Photos by Jim Nichols
In late 2011, Facebook was full of politics and I wanted to try to balance it out.
The result? A Year with My Left Hand – a daily post showing my hand in a variety of environments and configurations.
Fast forward to 2015 and the political discord was stronger than ever. I don’t think it subsided after the 2012 election. If anything, it got worse.
My left hand posts were limited by the calendar. I needed an open-ended approach to share some stupidity on Facebook to counter the political posts. On Jan. 1, 2016, I launched I found this today, a collection of items discovered on the frequent walks I share with my wife.
A sweater in the park, a child’s bicycle in an industrial park, a potato at a busy intersection. It amazed me what could be discovered when you’re paying attention. Weird stuff. Random stuff. My kind of thing.
That same January, we went out west. “No need to limit my finds to Kentuckiana,” I thought, “might as well share what I see out here.” The result? A toy from a fast-food meal, beers left behind at Joshua Tree National Park, a shawl on a Las Vegas sidewalk. Guess what happens there doesn’t always stay there.
At the time of writing, I’ve made 127 posts to my collection from seven states. That’s a lot of stupidity to share and – hopefully – it has provided some relief from the seemingly nonstop political debate on Facebook.
Thing is, I discovered others don’t see it as stupid.
I expected likes and comments, but friends started mentioning it when I encountered them in the real world. The first in-person feedback I recall was on a walk near our New Albany home. A friend and his wife approached and he made a motion as if he was tossing something in the street. When we got closer he said something like, “Thought I’d throw a spoon in the street for you to find.”
For what it’s worth, I see a lot of forks and spoons but only one knife so far.
The most flattering feedback I got was from a social media guru at work. I think she used the word “brilliant” to describe what I was doing. Photos of random found items qualify as brilliant? Hey, I’ll take it!
Along the way, friends started sharing photos of items they’d found. Some, like a rock, were good-hearted mockery. Others, like a full pizza in the middle of the street, made me realize why what I do may resonate with people.
I always try to get an interesting angle on my photos. Most of the time, I leave the items where I find them, although I’ve positioned a few along the way. Everything in the collection could be used in some capacity, if needed. I rarely take what I find and do my best to avoid repeats, although a second curbside potato was too good to pass up.
One reaction that’s surprised me is that some people think some of the photos are sad. I never saw it that way until I heard it from others, but I can see what they’re saying now. A lost pacifier, baby shoe and sippy cup all probably led to their share of tears. One that kind of gets me is a small rubber tugboat I found on 15th Street in New Albany. Guess it was the lighting, but I’m not sure.
What’s strange to me is the reaction I got from my most recent find: a pair of dress shoes on a Louisville sidewalk. That post got the most likes and comments of any entries and includes the dialogue that took place around me upon my discovery:
Random woman: Those are some nice shoes.
Dude at red light: What size are they?
Random woman: They’re my man’s size.
Dude at red light: Well, they’re nice.
Random woman: Where are you going? Gimme a ride. (Gets in Dude’s car)
Now, what will I find today?