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. 

Fidgety fingers and internet addiction

I wrote the first drafts of my first three novels with pen on paper. I did it not because I’m in love with ink and notebooks, value them over all the wonders of modern technology. No, it was partly so I could focus, partly to force an extra round of self-editing. I’ve got nothing against computers. I think they’re wonderful. In fact, the most recent novel, the unpublished one, I wrote almost completely on a computer. Why? Seemed to make sense at the time. And the tone and style I was aiming for was punchier, shorter, so it felt okay.

But I might have to go back to pen and paper. For fiction at any rate. I’ve been working on a short story this week, in the morning hours before I sign on for work. The first half of it I wrote in a notebook. But I’ve typed that up and am forging ahead on the keyboard. This isn’t affecting the writing style or the tone.

But there is a matter of distraction. We all know we’re addicted to the interwebs, etc. And it mostly happens these days on our phone. You’re always looking at the thing, even on the toilet, even when you’ve got two other screens going. Even if you’re watching a commercial-free Netflix program.

And I’ve been embarrassed this week at my behavior. It’s not even that I NEED to check Twitter and Facebook every five minutes. I CAN walk away. (Sure, Ken. Sure you can.) But I noticed that every time I ended a paragraph or written thought and paused to figure out what would happen next, my hands almost automatically started the process of switching to a new tab. It didn’t even matter which tab. They just wanted to open something. My mind wanted to look at something. To keep things flowing into it. Disgusting.

I got that urge somewhat under control. Yes, it can be done. You simply have to put some effort into it. But just when I got the desktop urges under control, my hand went and grabbed the phone and opened Twitter–which is also open in one of those tabs on the desktop. Like I said. Embarrassing. And scary!

So it’s either back to the notebook. Or I sit on my hands between paragraphs.

How Facebook works: Taco edition

Post: “Where can I get the best taco in Mexico City?”
Comment 1: “I like the chalupa at Taco Bell.”
Comment 2: “I’ve never been to Mexico City, but I heard it’s really awesome.”
Comment 3: “The taco was actually invented in 1495 by a Korean.”
Comment 4: “The best taco in Los Angeles is at that one truck.”
Comment 5: “No. The best taco in L.A. is at the other truck.”
Comment 6. “Everyone knows the best taco in L.A. is in the backroom of that taco speak-easy that I’ve never actually been to, but I heard is awesome.”
Comment 7: “Lemme know when you get there, so we can build that wall. LOLOLOLOL.”
Comment 8. “When we were in Cozumel on the cruise we had tacos at this one hotel. I can’t remember it’s name, but they were pretty good. Even if they only had soft shells.”
Comment 9. “Taco BELLLLLLLLLLL.”
Comment 10. “Where are you going in Mexico?”
(Note: I’m not actually looking for tacos or going to Mexico City. But I also know how Facebook works, so someone’s going to ask me when I’m going to Mexico?)

Carrying on in the face of terrorism — and jackasses

Yesterday morning while on the way to work, I stopped to take a couple of photos. One was a lovely shot of lower Manhattan. The other was of a handful of helicopters hovering over the city like buzzards over a carcass. There’d been a bombing in the subway, so every news outlet in the tristate area had eyes in the sky to provide viewers with one-of-a-kind shots of NYC rooftops.

Continue reading “Carrying on in the face of terrorism — and jackasses”

Is Morning Media Making You Mopey?

I saw something bad on Twitter.

Full disclosure: The following is purely anecdotal. It’s about as scientifically based as your new obsession with turmeric. 

Hey there, sparky. Quick question for you: Are you starting out the day on the wrong foot? Does it feel like a little cloud develops before you leave the house and follows you out the door? Do you sometimes wake up thinking, “I will crush this day and drink all its delicious juices,” but by the time you get to work you’re only thinking, “I hope I make it to lunch without killing someone or crying”?

Any or all of that sound familiar?

Now, yes. It could very well be actual depression. Depression IS real and should be diagnosed and treated. But it could also be something else, something within your control.

“Yeah. Like my stupid job,” is something you may have just thought.

Continue reading “Is Morning Media Making You Mopey?”