Friday, October 03, 2014

We Don't Always Get to Know Why Someone Goes Missing, & That's OK

The favorite seat.
Sometimes you are better off not typing that comment

I had a bunch of commenters frustrated that they couldn't get more details on the circumstances of why Joe Madden went missing, or how he was found. While I applaud everyone's efforts in locating him, I also believe the details of how and why he disappeared and was later found are the business of Joe Madden, his family, his friends, and no one else beyond the police. I drafted a rather long-winded comment (which I am now turning into a blog post) explaining why I believe this is the case.

This post had been bubbling up in me for more than a day, but the following comment finally helped bring it to the surface:

anonymous said...
Inked -- your line of thinking is so predicable. Far less helpful than anonymous speculation are the requests for mobilization of finite city resources to find, as one of my fellow commenters aptly termed, a dipshit son. I hope he and / or his parents do apologize. It is the right thing to do.
I had written this just above:

Blogger inked said...
I don't have details on what he was doing in New Orleans, & some of the anonymous speculation that has been going on here is not helpful. If you feel like you deserve details, find someone who knows him and ask. It seems like a private matter to me once he was found.
My line of thinking might be predictable. I think it is also correct. When I wrote of speculation here on the blog, I wasn't talking about the comments you now see, but comments I pushed into the spam folder. They were along the lines of the comments one often sees on stories of this kind. Things like: He's a big guy, & wouldn't be easy to kidnap, or this sure sounds like a meth binge, or probably a drug thing. While it's human nature to speculate, I like to think we should maybe refrain from doing so in a public forum that his family might be reading. I know his mother is aware of it (and may actually have looked at the posts here considering she retweeted a link to this post). Comments like these were even left before he was located. Imagine what it might feel like for a member of his family, or even one of his friends, to read if something horrible had happened to him. I had a cousin who could not be found for a few days, and it turned out that something horrible, out of his control (and not drug related), did befall him. I shudder to picture his parents’ reaction to such anonymous speculation.

I know people want answers, and that is human nature. At the same time, most of us did what to help find him? Tweet a link? Retweet something? Share it on Facebook? These are all important & very helpful steps in finding someone who is missing, but I don’t think they entitle any of us to private family information. You won’t find that info on local news orgs, & I won’t post it here either. It is the business of Joe Madden, his family, & his friends.

I will say that I was thrilled with the fact that so many people took to social media to spread word that he was missing. I think many people who live in Trinidad made an extra effort to do so after the tragic death of Michael Kingsbury. But it’s something we could all be better about generally. It was not lost on me (or some others I spoke with) that we had such an amazing mobilization effort for a young white guy (albeit one whose mom is very social media savvy). I’m hoping we can do the same awesome things in the future when other types of folks go missing.

The kid in the case was certainly young and stupid. That can happen when you are 23. Honestly, I had just purchased a ton of tape for flyers I planned to hang and had walked into the Pug when I heard the news from the bartender. My feeling was one of extreme relief. I don’t really care what happened, or how the situation developed. I view that as personal family stuff. I was just glad to learn that he was safe.

As for the family apologizing, I don’t feel that’s necessary. This guy did something stupid and kind of selfish, but he presumably had no idea people were looking for him. His parents and friends were legitimately worried about him, and rightly so. When people go missing, every hour counts. I would challenge you to say it’s selfish to anyone who has had a friend or family member go missing when the outcome was not so happy. The fact is, you don’t generally know what the outcome will be until you know what the outcome actually is. If we have to expend some resources to get the occasional false alarm, I’m ok with that.


Anonymous said...

I think you have all been deceived by a cleverly ambiguous cover story. It was aliens. He was abducted by aliens.

I want to to believe.

Anonymous said...

We cant ask/expect for transparency from the system and then justify the same lack of transparency simply because it is personal matter.

Yes we want to protect the individual but we must consider those in community who may have endangered themselves to help.

I am not frustrated by lack of gossip it was simply the "He is safe and all you need to know" reply that I found insulting.

inked said...

Did you "endanger" yourself to help? I suspect not. Where exactly do you normally get your info on found missing persons that they tell you the full details of what happened? Unless you are a lawyer/investigator/cop/ect. on the case, I don't think that info actually gets released a lot. There are reasons for that, & I think I expressed them pretty well in my post. I don't know him personally, and I assume you don't either. You are free to investigate further on your own, but I consider it more than a little offensive that anonymous commenters feel entitled to know intimate details about this man & his family. You get me?

Anonymous said...

"...guy did something stupid and kind of selfish, but he presumably had no idea people were looking for him."

No, the guy walked off, and that's his or any of our right to do so. He did what many dream of doing and frankly few have the courage to do. Perhaps we should take a step back and ask ourselves why is this news. An adult went away, and people do that. It's personal to his family. The rest of us need to get some chill. I know we all feel connected, but really we aren't, and we shouldn't be. Why this person went away is their business alone. They may or may not choose to share the whole thing with their family.

We need to all get lives. China is about to sac HK, Ebola has landed and ISIL is beheading someone else, and we are focused on this fluff. How about we just get a beer, or diet coke, and ruminate on our own lives and what's important thereto.

We need to FTDS. Politely: Forget The Dumb Stuff. Impolitely: the other F word.

-Robby AKA Uncle T.

Anonymous said...

Why the kitty pic? I like kitties but its like *pic unrelated. Cute kitty.

inked said...

She's blocking access to the keyboard. I also thought her expression seemed to say "Are you sure you should type that comment? Maybe think twice about it."

Anonymous said...

I can see two sides to this, both valid. The family is certainly welcome to keep it to themselves. This is, however, a news story, and nobody should be surprised if people want to know what happened. Let me put it this way-- say 21 year old girl disappears, the police are involved, CNN is covering it, and there's a huge effort to find her. Then she shows up and the family's like "it's resolved, thanks everybody". Should the public accept that? Should independent news outlets accept that? There is a line at which a story outgrows the bounds of familial privacy. This story is very close to that line.

inked said...

Most of the "huge effort" I saw from MPD here involved releasing a poster and posting it on Facebook. The public effort seems to have mostly been social media sharing. I didn't see a large-scale public canvasing/poster campaign. I didn't see police led search efforts. No-one brought out dogs to look for him. If effort and expense tips the balance in favor of disclosure, I don't think we even come close here.

Local tv media (certainly not CNN) did report that police were seeking assistance locating locating him. Those stations seemed perfectly satisfied to drop the story once he was located. Perhaps that's a good indication that none of them believe the story has crossed such a line.

Anonymous said...

well if the guy works at the Pug, we should go there and buy a few drinks to find out what happenned.

Anonymous said...

I don't really like The Pug all that much. There. I said it.

Anonymous said...

Typical emotional response it is important to me therefore it is important. I dont think its a big deal therefore its not a big deal.

We need to deal with fact and not emotions. Just because you believe, feel or heard it was true, does not make it true.

Anonymous said...

As an explanation, not an excuse, let's just admit that people like gossip and knowing other people's business. It's human nature and the reason for the high-ratings of murder porn news programs and reality TV shows. We know its wrong, but we just can't help ourselves.

Glad to see you are sticking to principle because your position is the admirable one and one that we should all strive towards.

Anonymous said...

We wanted him to turn up safe, and when he does we're upset? This makes no sense.