Douche of the Week: Social Media Zombies
By Sgt Awesome
On the evening of February 8th, 2014 a Twitter account with 460,000 followers tweeted: “1 simple #retweet could save his life… #FindHim” and a picture of a young boy named Tyrel Holloway with only the word “missing” included.
No date, no location, no additional information at all included. It has gained over 1,000 retweets an hour since it was posted. I’m not incredibly familiar with the mathematical laws of the Twitterverse, but I do know that it means a ton of people have now seen young Tyrel’s face and have been informed to keep an eye out for him.
Some of you are thinking right now that this is a good thing, and that is precisely why I am writing this; because you are an idiot and a danger to society.
A simple Google search will tell you that this young man went missing on January 27th at 5:40pm in Little Rock Arkansas. He was found a tenth of a mile from his house on the afternoon of January 28th.
However, you didn’t utilize Google. You hit “retweet” or “share” or whatever mindless action the poster asked you to because “There’s a child in danger! I must help!”
Now, you’re creating danger for that child, for his parents, and for any possible good Samaritans. You see, this is but one instance of a sad law of reality dealing with social media. It happens constantly and it never stops. If it did I wouldn’t see weekly on my Facebook feed someone sharing a similar picture of some kid who has long, long since been found safely.
You’re good people, I know. You just want to do right and help children. Well let’s play this out and see how helpful you are. Let’s say you’re grocery shopping in Little Rock today and see this young man being led around the store by an adult. You recognize his face from the picture. You “know” he is missing. Your options now are: to call the police, to confront the adult (who as an abductor you know will claim to just be his father, and when you explain that they don’t look alike he’ll just say he’s adopted), or to ignore the kid and be confident that your retweet will save him eventually.
Scenario 1. The police are called weekly every single time this poor kid goes anywhere with his father. LEOs everywhere want to punch you in the face… because you deserve it.
Scenario 2. He does in fact claim to be his father (he is) and he does in fact give you the adopted line (because once again, he is) but you don’t buy it. You’re here to save that child! Now you’re in a fight with a child abductor to protect a child. The father is now in a fight with a crazy person to protect his child. When protecting children, there is no mercy rule. Someone could end up in jail, in the hospital, or the morgue. Meanwhile this poor child has to deal with his father being assaulted or questioned everywhere they go.
Scenario 3. You literally are just a big pile of douche and I hope you often play in traffic often.
Your lazy, pathetic inability to do a simple Google search is making children all over unsafe. There are sadly a ton of assholes around who for some sick reason love posting these pictures. I’m unsure why. The only people it actually helps are child abductors as people’s sense of reality is numbed (see: The Boy Who Cried Wolf). “Oh, another missing child thing being shared… he’s probably safe like the rest, no need to be on alert.”
There is, luckily, one very easy way you can help avoid this problem and you can implement it without even having to go through the arduous, painstaking process of typing something into Google. Apply common sense. If a picture is telling you a child is missing (or anyone for that matter) without giving you details such as their last known location, a contact number to call if seen, a DATE that they went missing… these are what we in the business like to call “warning signs” that this is not legitimate.
If a picture has these tell tale signs of being share-bait, do not share it. Report it as spam. If your friends are sharing this garbage, call them out. Whatever you do, do not continue the cycle.
Don’t do it for me though… do it for the children.