|HOAX ALERT: #HelpFindKara a Job...and a Jail Cell
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Look at this picture. Odds are you already have.
Meet Kara Alongi. Aside from being another shining example of the New Jersey school system (e.g., Snooki, The Situation) and "someone" who is hooked on phonics, she was kidnapped the other day. And apparently, she was too busy tweeting to call 911 herself. So, she took to Twitter and asked her 108,000 followers to do it for her. Why am I not that upset by this tragic state of affairs? According to the Star Ledger, Kara Alongi is also a colossal liar.
I suppose I will get to the ubiquitous "Who in the hell is she" and "What on Earth do 108,000 people think she has to offer mankind" later. Let's talk about felonious activity via social media, shall we?
Within hours, the tweet for help went viral. And #HelpFindKara became the trend heard around the world. Clark police received 6,000 phone calls in 14 hours. More than 25 percent of the city's police force went looking for this dunderhead damsel in distress. And why? Again, this was a tweet from some starlet-wannabe.
Family members were away at the time of the tweet, and returned home to find Alongi missing. They called police to report a burglary and a missing person, but when police arrived at the house they found no signs of forced entry or stolen property, [Clark, N.J. Police Chief] Scherb said. A door was unlocked. With the help of K-9 units, police tracked her scent from the back door of the house, through a neighbor's yard and around the corner back onto her block where the scent went cold, Scherb said.
So here's the $64,000 question: Does social media have too much power or is it just the sheep out there that give it the control?
"It was discovered that a person called a local taxi company asking for a car at Alongi's address around the same time the Twitter message was posted," Scherb said. "Later, the driver positively identified Alongi as the fare he picked up and said he drove her to the Rahway Train Station, dropping her off a few minutes later."
Clark P.D. has officially ruled this ballyhoo a hoax, and the case is being treated as a missing runaway juvenile. Now, you may be laughing, largely because you don't her. However, imagine if Kim Kardashian pulled this mess. I think E!, Extra and CNN Showbiz Tonight would run live coverage into her whereabouts. It's bad enough someone famous "dies" on Twitter every week, only to be discovered chowing down on a grease burger. However, someone — say me — can tweet something relevant, timely, and arguably hilarious, but get someone like Miley Cyrus tweeting "I'm in the the mood for french fries" and it ends up trending worldwide.
Social media is simply a tool in the hands of the good people or ne'er-do-wells who operate it. It's like anything else really. A car is a mode of transportation for the hard-working person or a loaded weapon for a drunk. A fast food restaurant is the way for a stressed parent to feed the kids or a glutton to feed his or her face. What you choose to use this tool for becomes you, doesn't it?
For some, it's fun. For others, it's vanity run-a-muck. For Kara, it's something that needs to be deleted. Hopefully, this new found "notoriety" won't make her famous...or infamous. Next time, #HelpFindKara a job.
Shawn Paul Wood has been a committed flack for more than a decade and is currently an Account Director at HCK2 Partners in Dallas, Texas. Prior to his diverse experience in public relations, copywriting and speech writing, Shawn worked as an on-air talent, producer and copywriter. Ping him here or follow him at @ShawnPaulWood.
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