Over at Tracy's Blog I found this link to the sad sordid tale of the stolen sidekick.
[On an related note, Kaply Inc. is becoming a go-to site for great news, thoughts and links. I'm very glad we snatched her up while she was a free agent before one of the other sites could lock in her services. But don't tell her that, or she will demand more money.]
Here's what happened: this guy Evan has a friend who left her sidekick in a Taxi. (No comment is made on how dumb it is to leave your phone/computer in a taxi, but we've all done things like that, so I'll let that pass.) Anyway, whomever found it decided not to return the device, but instead use it for their own personal sidekick.
Oh, the humanity.
While this doesn't rank up there with serial killing and Saved By the Bell: The College Years, I agree it's not a mature or decent thing to do. So did Evan, and he decided to get back at these guys by making an example of them: i.e., putting up that website.
If at this point you're interested in what happened, go read the chronology of events. The first few posts you'll actually need to read, and after that you can skim, as it becomes clear Evan doesn't have much new to add, but feels the need to keep updating. If you decide to check it out, come back here for my commentary. If not, go on to the next post, and no hard feelings:
TO BE READ ONLY IF YOU'VE WADED THROUGH THE SIDEKICK STORY.
When I first started reading the story I thought somewhat as Tracy did, that it was a great way to expose the petty thieves in this Internet age, and shame them into doing what was "right." I did feel a tad uncomfortable, but wasn't sure why. Now I know.
Evan feels that this is a moral issue. I'm not saying taking a sidekick (and for the record, here is what a sidekick is, sort of like a PDA), but I certainly wouldn't take one out of the back of a taxi, and I'd hope that if someone found a phone or computer I'd left they'd return it.
However, as Vincent Vega might say, "Antoine should have f******g known better." Putting this website up, in today's voyeur obsessed internet culture was only going to lead to bad things. The "victims" in this case were white and the alleged perpetrators were apparently of Puerto Rican descent. That doesn't excuse stealing and you don't shy from punishment because of the race of the criminal. However, it's not life and death, and this kind of thing takes on a life of its own. Evan doesn't seem like too bright a bulb, but even most dense of people should have seen the racial aspect. (If you read the site, it's in the forums where that got out of hand.)
People also went to where the "criminals" lived. I'm shocked nothing came of this. It would be just like human nature for someone to get killed out of this endeavor. It reminds me of an unaired Jenny Jones episode, where they brought this guy in, telling him he had a secret admirer, and then it turned out to be his male friend. A few days later the guy killed his admirer. Jenny Jones and Co. didn't pull the trigger, but tell me they aren't somewhat responsible?
The same would go here. If anyone had been (or in the future gets) hurt, some of that blood is on Evan's shoulders.
Then there's the criticism he opens himself up to. At one point he puts up a donation button, to help pay for the server cost. (In case you didn't get this from the page, Evan's site caused a unbelievable feeding frenzy, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting and talking about it.)
Evan repeatedly (and more and more indignantly) claims he turned down many requests for ads that would have made him money on the gig, and he was just trying to recoup his expenses, but again, he should have known that was coming (as well as the crazy conspiracy theories on the message boards, with everything from him being a T-Mobile employee looking to get free advertising to the FBI starting a race war.)
The most disappointing thing, though, is that as you read the increasingly incoherent posts, you see that Evan gets caught up in the story and thinks he is the story. He continues to post updates even when there is no news. He answers thousands and thousands of emails, when no one could possibly expect him to do so, especially if he just said, "I've had over 2000 emails, and I appreciate the support, but obviously I can't answer them all with work and keeping up with events."
Several times Evan says that if the Sidekick is simply returned he will take down the site (although I doubt it), but he should have done that once a police report was filed. Putting the site up in the first place might have been a fun idea, but clearly the ploy didn't work: the sidekick was not returned. As for shaming the people involved: he did more than that. I'm sure they wish they'd never gotten in the fateful taxi. At this point the story is over: they didn't return the item, there's a police report, they know where the people are; so let events take their course.
But I don't see that happening. The whole thing makes me sad and depressed, and at this point I have almost as little respect for Evan, who took shaming to the point of ruining lives, as I do for some dumb 16 year old girl who thought she'd found a sidekick.
Yes, she was wrong.
But nobody was right.