Oh no! The sex-traffickers are back at Target

Looks like it’s time to hide your kids and your wife. According to the never-wrong news source, “Some Lady’s Facebook Post,” strange men are once again following families around the clothing department of Target with an eye toward throwing them all into a white van in broad daylight.

I don’t know what it says about social media, but it’s sort of annoying that even these sorts of stupid, divisive, uninformed, mostly-fake memes, have to be recycled every few years. Can we not get something new to freak out about?

This hysteria seems to have originated in Oregon back in 2017, where some woman took a picture of a guy and claimed she and her family were being stalked. Or, wait, maybe it started in California that same year, in an Ikea. Nothing came of either case. 

These posts are typically the result of an overactive imagination mixed with some old-fashioned racism (a lot of the posts I’ve seen claim the guys “look Mexican”) and straight up narcissism.

Here’s the truth, lady. NOBODY WANTS TO KIDNAP YOU OR YOUR KIDS. They’d probably return yall after half an hour even if they did. 

Not to let facts intrude into social media fantasyland, but this is the exact opposite of how trafficking works. According to Lara Powers who wrote about this at the time, “I have encountered thousands of child sex-trafficking cases in the United States. I have never seen, read or heard about a real sex-trafficking situation in which a child was abducted by traffickers in broad daylight at a busy store under a mother’s watchful eye.”

Maybe a creep did follow you around the store. I worked in retail and there were plenty of creeps, some of whom even liked to pleasure themselves in the dressing room. But that’s a far cry from sex trafficking.

If your child is going to be trafficked, kidnapped, or sexually assaulted, the number one contenders are:

  • Your ex
  • Your current
  • Your priest or pastor
  • A teacher or coach
  • QAnon members
  • The leader of the gang you didn’t know your child was in
  • Assorted scumbags who’ve inserted themselves into foster networks
  • The Florida congressional delegation

You need some sort of power-dynamic in play and, more often than not, trust of some sort. The rando in Target has neither of those things.

What I find (almost) funny about this is that the same person who will immediately (and sometimes repeatedly) smash the share button on these Facebook posts is the exact same person mad at the media for “spreading fear” and “being divisive.” This isn’t the media. This is you. You are spreading fear and being divisive. You are the fake news.

And don’t get me started on the inability to do basic risk assessment. “Even after 700,000 people have died of a disease, I think it’s worth the risk to send little Sally to Saint Anti-Masker’s Church of the Unvaccinated. That’s just freedom and common sense. And look, I’ve heard the rumors about the youth-group leader who drifted into town with no backstory and that weird bracelet on his ankle, but he seems SO nice. … We all know the real danger is walking around Target on a Monday.” 

None of this makes me pro-sex trafficking. And I sincerely apologize if you, like Nicki Minaj, have a friend’s cousin who was kidnapped from the underwear section at Target. Truly, I do. 

Enjoy your shopping. 

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