figured I’d get your weekly dose of head-exploding insanity out of the way on Monday. Then we can talk about other ideas the rest of the week:
figured I’d get your weekly dose of head-exploding insanity out of the way on Monday. Then we can talk about other ideas the rest of the week:
Dear Free-Range Kids:.I’m contacting you because I need a voice of reason in the insanity that are the local mothers in Columbus, Ohio. Recently, a mother was at the play place at the local mall when she felt that a man was following her. She then states that he was taking photos of her and her child but disguising said photos as “selfies.” I’ve copied and pasted her entire account of the ordeal below.Â .Â “Â ****PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS****.I never go anywhere by myself, but today I thought it would be nice to take L to the Polaris mall and play at the play area with other toddlers.Â I noticed when I was walking down the stairs 2 men were watching me walk down. One walked away and the other proceeded to take pictures pretending they were selfies, but I Â noticed myself and L were in every frame. I tried to walk away and he just kept turning and walking with me still taking pictures. He followed me around the outside of the play area taking more pictures and also taking some of other children. I sat down a little freaked out hoping he would leave and another mom noticed what he was doing and took pictures of him. The other man walked around the other side of the play area up to him and then they walked away. We complained to the mall security and they found him but the pictures on his phone were gone so they couldn’t even make him leave the mall. He told security he was visiting from New York. I am so beyond freaked out right now. I have no idea what their intentions were but they couldn’t have been good. Thankfully my husband left work to come to the mall so I didn’t have to walk to my car alone.”Â .Okay. So, not only did she post this description of the events, she also attached a picture of the man. At the time I’m sending this email to you, his picture has been shared 19,200 times. Mostly with the words “creeper” and “pervert” next to his face. When I posted my own little PSA in the same mom’s group, (you know, including facts about actual trafficking victims, and the actual odds that your child will be kidnapped by a stranger), I was vilified to the point where I just deleted my post and left the group. At one point, one of the mothers told me she “hoped one of my children became a victim, so that I would know what statistics felt like.” WHAT THE WHAT??.I just can’t understand why smart, educated women can overlook the fact that the boogeyman is not going to be the one that is going to victimize their child….Â Also, side note, how am I the only one who think it is EXTREMELY odd that the original poster states she “never goes anywhere alone”? I mean, that’s weird, right?Â .Thanks for everything you do! I’m going to keep spreading common sense and actual factsÂ no matter the reaction. It’s just hard when sometimes it seems like most other mothers have gone coo coo for cocoa puffs..Sincerely,Katie Goggin, Columbus, OH
If this was a story about just Â one paranoid mom, I don’t think I’d run it. The fact that the guy’s photo was shared 19,000 times is what freaks ME out. We seem desperate to be in the middle of some drama about predators stalking our kids. Are our lives so boring? Is it exciting to be “part of the story” by passing it along? Really: What is the motivation behind validating a clearly paranoid person’s delusion? – L.
OMG. There are so many ways this is wrong I’m at a loss as where to start with comments.
“I never go anywhere by myself” tells you everything you need to know about this “victim”.
Well, she does seem to have proven the point that having a stranger take pictures of you and post it on social media can be a terrible thing. Of course, the only victim here is the original guy.
If he didn’t have any pictures on his phone when mall security looked at it, either he deleted them all very stealthily or he wasn’t taking pictures in the first place. Maybe he was just using a map or something – who knows. She does say that “myself and L were in every frame” – how could she tell? Was she somehow looking at his phone while he was taking pictures of her?
Finally, is taking pictures of someone in a public place even a crime? Are cameras disallowed in shopping malls now? I could understand it if it was in a dressing room, but a mall isn’t particularly secluded.
I’m about to become a mom and I’m so dreading these situations. Katie, I will stand with you and be a common-sense mom! I applaud you for standing up to the hysteria. It’s just going to take more of us repeating common sense and actual facts to get to a point where things calm down. I hope I hope.
This was posted on Yahoo today: https://www.yahoo.com/news/tourists-taking-pictures-of-seafront-set-upon-by-101626571.html
A couple of women accosted some tourists taking pictures of the scenery. One confiscated phones and cameras and called the police. They found nothing but pictures of the seafront on the camera, but the woman still posted on Facebook about how she broke up a suspected pedophile ring, which was shared 13K times.
As a Columbusite, I…I have no words.
Katie, thank you for being a voice of reason, even it did seem to fall on deaf ears.
@Richard — My first thought, too, was how she knew she was in every frame. *shakes head*
Ok, so mall security caught up with the guy and the photos that he took were gone and therefore, they couldn’t even make him leave the mall. In other words, he was innocent because he was not proven guilty. But the mother went ahead and attached a picture of the man on her Facebook account with HER description of the events which I’m sure wasn’t favorable to him. Then the words “creeper” and “pervert” eventually ended up next to the guy’s face 19,200 times?
With that being the case, wouldn’t this man have a legal case for libel or slander against this woman? It’s her word against his and it wasn’t proven that her word was correct but yet she continued to accuse him and smear his name on social media. I would think that he does have a good case BUT then again, it was an accusation against what somebody was perceived to do to a CHILD and with that being the case, the Constitution does not seem to apply for the accused. I mean, this is America folks where pedophilia phobia runs rampant…..sigh.
â€œI never go anywhere by myselfâ€
How does she find people to go places with her? The only way I’d go anywhere with someone like this is if she made me go at gunpoint. And I’d have to be really really sure the gun was loaded.
That lady sounds like an actual mental patient. She almost never “goes out alone”? (Taking your kids to the mall in the middle of the day is “going out alone”?) Her husband had to come save her after the bad guys already left? There were no actual photos on the guy’s phone?
Her friends should not be encouraging this kind of thinking. She will get herself into serious trouble one of these days.
I think some people just like the sensationalism of “sharing” boogeyman stories. Every time one comes across my fb page, I respond by posting the article that says kids today are safer than ever. So far my posting has gotten zero likes. 😛 But at least maybe it makes some people think twice before they go for an innocent person’s jugular.
I’m kind of worried that the mall security played along with the delusion.
Let’s play pretend.
Let’s pretend that paranoid-mom was absolutely and totally correct. Two men, secretly pedophile-kidnappers, singled her out at the mall because her precious little snowflake L is so incredibly desirable. They walked around the mall, AND TOOK PICTURES OF HER AND L!!! OMG!!!
OK… and? Are we getting to the scary and/or illegal part yet? No? That’s the whole story? Why are mall security looking at photos on this person’s phone? Even if there are 10,000 pictures of delightful little L on this phone, all take surreptitiously and without permission… there’s nothing illegal in that.
Your husband had to take time off work to come to the mall and walk you to your car because… you can’t take care of yourself? The mall security people laughed at you when you demanded that they do it?
I don’t know anything about Columbus, or about this particular mall. If it’s so dangerous, though, obviously we need to be investigating this mother for child endangerment, for taking poor defenseless L there without an armed security detail for protection.
As an avid tourist, I have taken thousands of photos with other people in them, and so far nobody has attacked me for it. And I’m sure my kids and I are part of the scenery taken by many other tourists around the world. Oh, shiver. 😛
“With that being the case, wouldnâ€™t this man have a legal case for libel or slander against this woman?”
First off, “Libel” is something you write, and “slander” is something you say. “Defamation” covers both.
OK, in order to have a defamation case, you need to have a false statement, published to third parties, which causes damages. (There is a small subset of defamation cases, called “defamation per se”, in which the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove damages. This is not a defamation per se case).
So, the thing keeping this lady from being sued (and, BTW, everybody who re-publishes it) is that he’s going to have to point to actual damages he has suffered as a result of this accusation… was he fired from his job? Is he a salesman who lost sales? A merchant who had to close up shop? Or just a tourist from NY who will never see any of these Ohioans again?
And here’s a word to the wise. If you are watching someone’s face constantly to find out if he’s looking at you, that looks like “trying to make eye contact” and the person is going to look at you and see if you’re an acquaintance or if you’re trying to get his attention. And if you then start acting crazy and paranoid with a little kid in your arms, they’re going to watch you to make sure you don’t do anything to hurt the kid. That’s called reacting like a normal human.
This is especially sad because it represents such a step backwards for the women’s movement. Women who won’t go anywhere alone usually end up with men who won’t let them go anywhere alone (i.e. men who want to boss and dominate them).
Innocent until proven guilty is a way of prioritising justice in our legal system in favour of the accused. It isn’t a factual state of affairs. You are guilty or not of doing something if you’ve done it, whether a court would convict you or not. To play devils advocate for the woman – if the pictures were just selfies, why had they been deleted (and to play advocate for the guy, if he hadn’t even taken any photos they wouldn’t have been there in the first place). We don’t know, it might be an innocent situation, it might not.
It seems like paranoid overreaction and the turning it into a “kid danger” social media spree is ridiculous. However, this isn’t just about selfies. Being followed around a public place can be very unnerving. So I have some sympathy for the woman being concerned about that aspect.
Contrast the reaction here to the comments about the 9yo girl who reported an alleged crime without naming any names or posting any photos of the “suspect.” This is an adult who purposely, publicly smeared a specific human who had done nothing wrong, and she’s getting kudos or at worst laughs.
On thinking about it another couple of minutes, mainly about why someone would be taking pictures in/of Polaris mall (seriously, it’s not particularly special; it’d be different if it was Easton, which is quite a bit more tourist-baity), and then I remembered, that playground is zoo-themed. This is Columbus, Ohio. You know, home of the famous Jack Hanna. There’s a statue of him at the entrance to it — http://www.columbusparent.com/content/stories/2012/06/BOC/family-biz/mall.html
It’s also a two-floor loop with the center open, so you can see the upper floor from the lower and the lower floor from the upper. There are stores and other stuff behind the staircase, and a number of things in the space between the floors — http://www.inspiringyou2save.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/play-area-e1409264319140.jpg
It’s very likely that they weren’t even looking at her, nor intentionally following her, but looking at the other stuff that is different and cool to them.
To the comment about men not letting wives out alone – I pictured the woman’s husband telling her not to go out without him again, because she can’t handle it, and most employees can’t leave work every time a family member’s imagination gets the better of her.
I would also worry about leaving her alone at home with a child. She is not responsible. Does she hear voices? Will the voices tell her to drown her kid or chop off his arm? It has happened many times.
Am I the only person who is way more freaked out by this woman’s behavior than by the men’s?
If the actions she described were accurate, I can understand that she felt “followed”. It happens often, and maybe it really did happen to her (probably not because they wanted to kidnap L, though.)
Let’s not teach women to ignore their gut instinct. My Mama taught me that it’s usually right.
However, it’s her reaction, fear, raising of a violent posse to back her up, and public defamation that really concern me. I’ve been followed several times from age 10 on and several people have exposed themselves to me both as a child and an adult. If I truly felt followed, I would gather up my child and report the incident to security. I might even get an escort to my car that one day. However, I would consider it a one-off. If I mentioned it on FB, it would be phrased in a less provoking way, and the responses would be more like “I hope you’re OK” instead of “Search and Destroy!”.
Thanks for that link. I am totally amused that the shopkeeper was said to “confiscate” the tourist’s camera. Unless that shopkeeper is a law enforcement official, that sort of “confiscation” is known by another term: theft. I don’t care how noble my motivations are; if I accost a stranger and forcibly take his camera, I am guilty of theft and possibly assault. So it seems to me the actual criminal that day was the do-gooder.
My mother always used to say to me, “You wouldn’t worry about what other people think of you if you realized how little they did.” We seem to have an epidemic of narcissism in this country that makes people think they’re always at the center of whatever is going on, without regard to any reality. Chances are this “perp” wasn’t even aware of this solipsistic mom and her progeny.
What kind of paranoia is she modeling for her kids???
Ironically, I’ve had the good fortune to travel all over the world, and I’ve had kids in Italy, China, Croatia and many other places eager for me to take their pictures while they mugged and their parents have smiled.
Columbus hasn’t been on my bucket list, strangely.
“Are our lives so boring? Is it exciting to be â€œpart of the storyâ€ by passing it along?”
In many cases, yes, and yes. Couple that with the opportunity to feel sanctimonious and self righteous toward anyone who suggests that your fears might be a bit over-blown, and they swoop in like vultures to a week old roadkill.
I’ve had much scarier things than that happen to me, but I would never post them on facebook! I would not want my family to worry and try to talk me out of doing the next thing that has a little bit of risk.
This past New Year’s Eve, I was in Lisbon, on the square for the fireworks. There was an extremely large crowd, everyone standing shoulder to shoulder, and for about 20-30 minutes there was what I call a “crush” where everyone was pushing and being pushed to the point where my chest was actually hurting, and I worried about being able to breathe. I was carrying my smallest kid so she could breathe; my friends had my bigger kid and I lost sight of them. I was scared. As the crush subsided, ambulances rolled in.
About an hour later, we all found each other and heaved many sighs of relief.
Do you think any of that went on my facebook page, or was ever told to any family member? Heck no. What would be the point? It would just make my family worry when I travel internationally. I would feel guilty making them worry. (Because no, I’m not going to stop traveling or being out on New Year’s Eve. I will give a little more thought to very crowded places, though. 🙂
Even if he *WAS* taking pictures of her child, and even if he was going to go home and fawn over them, that child is going to have far more damage done to it by its crazy mother than ever could possibly have been done by the picture taker.
Regarding that incident in Southend
Notice that it says:
â€œThe photographs were reviewed by officers who found no offences had been committed. The photos were of the general seafront area.â€
IE if there HAD been photos of children, taken in public places, this WOULD have constituted an offense.
Yes, as a lone female in an isolated place, especially at night, it can be. In a public mall in the middle of day? She’s more likely paranoid.
Every mall I’ve ever been in I’ve walked in the same manner: made a clockwise or counterclockwise circuit of the hallways. Unless one has a specific destination and a time limit, there really is no other way to do it. Apparently, walking in the same direction as another person in a public place is now “following”. She “tried to walk away”. How? Did she stop and browse a store to let him pass and he waited instead? Did she change floors and he followed? Or did she merely continue toward her destination, and he did the same?
Maybe next time choose a playground.
Fresh air and a better quality of pervert
We clearly need to emulate Saudi Arabia and institute women-only malls.
And yes, “I never go anywhere by myself” tells you the whole story right there, just stop reading at that point & save yourself the agita.
@HKQ451 you’ve obviously not heard of apps like snapchat where people send each other photos of their day or what they’re up to continually without saving any of them.
Lots of people also chimp their photos after taking them and delete if they don’t like them.
Maybe the woman was not being factual when she said that he was taking a ton of photos and then deleted them all.
Maybe the truth was that he did take some photos and there was nothing offensive about them so he was left alone. But that would not have been a good enough story.
“I never go anywhere by myself”
I never go anywhere without my tinfoil cap, because we all knows what happens…
This reads like someone out on break from a mental institution. Like she got a bus trip to the mall and lost her marbles there.
If you go anywhere public places even with an escort, there IS a chance you may be captured on camera on or a cell phone photo. Fearing phone pictures, as if you are being targeted as a sex trafficking victim, is paranoid and narcissistic. Do you put up a fit for every security camera that captures your image too?
Perhaps next time she goes out anywhere alone, she can put on a disguise for herself and *L*. Or see a doctor for this problem of hers before smearing someone’s reputation on social media.
That was my thought to, that like grocery stores, people tend to have a certain route that they take, which is the more likely reason that it appeared he was “following” her. Also, just because someone has their phone out and is tapping the screen does not mean they are taking pictures and even if they are, you as a bystander have no way of knowing which camera he was using. If he’s using the front camera and is taking selfies, he has no way of knowing that you’re making crazy eyes at him. And please, for the love, see a therapist before you pass your paranoia onto your kid.
Here’s the police statement on the “incident”. The comments section is extremely disturbing. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153522182276762&substory_index=0&id=92955766761&_ft_=top_level_post_id.10153522182276762%3Atl_objid.10153522182276762%3Athid.92955766761%3A306061129499414%3A69%3A0%3A1462085999%3A2221039360245778840&__tn__=%2As
Some people are just fearful by nature, and the media hype plays directly to them. I get those kind of glares from time to time (thought I never take selfies). I do fit the profile – 51, gray hair, married with two kids. Yep, typical molester model.
I made the mistake of clicking TM’s link. Good lord you are right – there are a lot of disturbing comments. Many people in Columbus apparently think that Criminal Minds is a documentary show, and not fiction. Lots of talk in the comments about all the human trafficking taking place in that part of Ohio.
Oh dear! Lenore, please consider editing the last sentence of this post. We do not know that this woman was clearly “paranoid” or “delusional.”
There is nothing wrong with a mom trusting her gut. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a location because you don’t have a good feeling about someone. There’s nothing illegal about snapping a photo of a guy in a public place who is giving you the creeps, just like there’s nothing illegal about taking innocent photos of other people’s children in a public place. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your experience with friends and loved ones, and looking for comfort and sympathy, when you are clearly quite shaken.
We weren’t there, we don’t know the truth, and some of the details in the original post would certainly put me on alert. She does sound a little overly anxious about the world. But paranoid people aren’t *always* wrong. We don’t know, and more importantly, there is NO NEED for us to have an opinion about it one way or the other. There is also nothing wrong with this woman’s loved ones posting supportive comments to her.
Where all of this seemed to fall of the rails is when people started forwarding around a photo of the random guy, accusing him of something they had no firsthand knowledge of. And when people started acting like *everyone’s* children were in danger because of one uncomfortable incident. And most horribly, when people started wishing *actual harm* upon another woman’s child because that woman’s views were not well-received by the Virtue-Signaling Sancti-Mob.
But mom-shaming the original poster, for getting rattled in the first place, because you wouldn’t have been rattled yourselves, seems to be committing the same internet vice as the Overreaction Crowd. I don’t like when commenters here start trying to tell other people they are bad parents or crazy, since I thought the whole point of this blog was the opposite of that. And is it really her fault that 19,200 other people decided to turn her personal experience into a fullblown crisis du jour?
There is a lot of human trafficking happening in this part of the country. It tends to involved troubled teens who are lured (voluntarily leave home) and then are prostituted. It is scary to contemplate, but it has nothing to do with tots in shopping malls.
Where can this woman be reported to as being way too unstable to be left in sole charge of a toddler? Seems to me the only one here who is endangering this child’s life is her mother who is clearly paranoid. If this isn’t treated, it’s only going to get worse over time. Her husband needs to wake up to the difficulties at home before it warps his child and affects his own life (how much time will be able to take off work to ‘rescue’ his family?).
Or is this a reversal of the old rules.
No man is allowed out alone without his wife or another woman to escort and protect him.
I agree that mom’s gut is *usually* to be listened to, but there are still crazy people in the world, and this lady seems to be a good candidate for that title.
IMO if your gut tells you a situation is bad, you get yourself out of the situation. You don’t turn it into a big “all about me” circus.
I am fine with the lady alerting mall personnel and sticking around to find out the outcome. The outcome was, there was no evidence he had done anything criminal. You don’t follow that up with a sensational, all-about-me facebook rant complete with a photo of a person who had been cleared of wrongdoing.
Whether or not it’s true that human trafficking is a big problem in Ohio, their government certainly wants people to THINK it’s a big problem! http://humantrafficking.ohio.gov/
Either way, I’m not sure what human trafficking could possibly have to do with a man allegedly taking photos of a toddler at the mall……..
“Hereâ€™s the police statement on the â€œincidentâ€. The comments section is extremely disturbing. ”
What an understatement.
What’s truly amazing is the imagination amongst the commenters, who seem eager to provide imaginary extra details.
Also fun is the imaginary violence carried by the “well, I woulda…” crowd.
Good bye, Columbus!
You are so boring!
Move to Manhattan where kids ride the subway home from Bloomingdales!
“Either way, Iâ€™m not sure what human trafficking could possibly have to do with a man allegedly taking photos of a toddler at the mallâ€¦”
Four or five pages down in the comments section of the Columbus PD’s comment (cited above), you can find all the missing details.
The guy is “obviously” taking pictures of the kids, sending them to the mysterious “boss” who’s picking out which one(s) he wants. He’s carrying a bag that contains a change of clothes and drugs to subdue mom and child (which, apparently, the mall security team is incompetent, because they missed this entirely.)
I’m going to chalk it up as an overall good thing that these people obviously have no idea how human trafficking works… it means they’ve never experienced it, and neither has anybody else they know. Yes, their ignorance colors their perception of the world, but that’s still better than if there WAS a wider swath of people who had been affected by it.
About Human Trafficking? I live in Columbus. There are several Evangelical churches and other non-profits in town and the State of Ohio that have made “combating” it their raison d’ etre.
Frequent articles appear in local print and television news.
It’s on people’s minds here.
I have a cousin who is just this paranoid and so is her husband. He owns a small auto repair business. In our younger days when we had little ones any time someone came to their home for some sort of repair they had scheduled or an entity had scheduled she would bundle up her little ones (4 of them in 7 years), head to the Shop where she would sit and answer phone calls or tell customers who were bringing in their vehicle for repair they would have to wait or return later while he would go home to allow the telephone guy to do the installation they had ordered or the gas company to light their pilot lights after the gas line repair in the neighborhood and so on.
One day he was too busy to trade places so she called me and asked me to stay on the phone with her until the cable installer was gone…again this was a man who was doing a job my cousin and her husband had asked to happen. I’m not sure what she thought I could do in an “emergency” but I was bored and it was nice chat with her for while.
Fast forward. We are now grandmothers with no little at home anymore. She and her husband still do the trading places thing.
I share this story to say there are many paranoid people in the world but at least in the 80s and 90s they didn’t have Facebook and other social media to share their paranoia with the world.
omg… this man is the victim! The mom is a paranoid loon. It’s not illegal to take selfies at the mall. And maybe she doesn’t realize it but pictures of her and her daughter are being captured constantly whenever she’s in a place like a mall. That’s what all those cameras everywhere are doing.
People ARE paranoid.
One man asked me, “Why am I staring at him?
I said,”My face has to be positioned somwhere.
I am waiting for the traffic light to change
I hate this notion of “mom’s instinct”, mainly because if you watch too much TV, ready too many salacious novels, or take in too much news, your instincts have been totally skewed. Because you’ve lost touch with reality. Not all instincts are correct, and I’d even argue that most are wrong, and you end up in a downward spiral. You see something you think is off, and if people keep agreeing with you and validating that you’re right, you’re just going to see it more and more often. Groupthink at its worst.
So she made her point about a stranger taking selfies with her kids in the background by being a stranger posting a guy’s face online (which then got about a thousand views by other strangers). Right. Cause that makes it better.
“About Human Trafficking? […] Itâ€™s on peopleâ€™s minds here.”
OK, well, the real kind involves runaway teenagers and young adults who are alienated from their families, and almost always includes substance abuse (by the young person, their family members, or both).
The pretend kind involves small children, forcibly kidnapped.
Efforts against the real kind are desperately needed, but do not involve posting messages on FaceBook. Efforts against the pretend kind or, well, not going to be effective..
I would like to relate an incident that I was involved in many years ago. It doesn’t involve any children but it’s how I turned the tables on one paranoid woman. Since you come from NYC I’m sure you can relate to the things I say. Nowadays if someone even thinks you’re looking at them it can lead to a confrontation that can get you seriously hurt or killed. That wasn’t always the case but as far back as I remember people didn’t like to be looked at, even in a public place. I never could understand why people think you’re looking at them. You have to look somewhere and in a crowded city like NY you’re always looking in someone’s direction.
This particular day I was waiting for the bus on Madison Avenue and was near the front of the line. Like most New Yorkers I would look down Madison Avenue to see if a bus was coming (never made the bus come any faster). All of a sudden this woman at the back of the line starts screaming at me, demanding to know why I was looking at her. I immediately answered back and asked how she knew I was looking at her unless she was looking at me! I wanted to know why she was looking at me. It shut her up real quick. Today an encounter like that can quickly escalate and get you killed but just ignoring it is just as dangerous. Which leads to the question – Where are you supposed to look? How did people become so paranoid that they think anyone looking in their direction singled them out and is going to do them some harm? Why is danger attached to anything you look at – look at a woman, rape; look at a child – kidnapping; look at a building – casing it for a terrorist attack? You get the point. Have a camera, it gets even worse. Yet all this activity is one hundred percent perfectly legal. Why are we so paranoid? I’m more concerned about the government’s covert intrusion into my life then some other private citizen just looking at me.
The fear-of-men-around-children is so sad. I often think of the advantage and disadvantages of being male vs. female, and one of the big advans of female is: I play googoo eyes with children on mass transit, can chat, sit next to, engage — while making eye-contact with the mom to see if it is okay — and what I get from the mother is look of appreciation. Men are less free to experience this.
Yeah, this lady is very likely mentally ill. I knew someone once who believed that a conspiracy of apparently random people were following them, keeping track of them, taking photos of them, etc. This person ended up being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
The fact that she needed her husband to pick her up after the ‘incident’ is evidence that she’s not the most emotionally resilient person to start with. And then, the comment she made that she “never goes anywhere alone” is a sign to me that she certainly has some paranoid tendencies on top of that.
I think that she should seek mental help, and I really find it quite scary that the majority of her social circle shares and reinforces her delusions.
DocHal: In NY city, you are supposed to be looking at your phone. Always. If you aren’t, there is probably something wrong with you.
These kind of situations are sickening.
Much of this is “I’m a better mommy than you are”. SHE is vigilant. SHE recognizes danger. If YOU don’t, you has a “bad mommy”. Nothing will ever happen to HER kid, but you are putting yours at risk. Because you don’t love your children. Or care about them.
Even if something actually DOES happen to her kid, despite her paranoid vigilance, it will just prove she is right to be paranoid. If nothing happens, it still proves she is right. She can’t lose.
The mothers who aren’t paranoid are simply “lucky” nothing has happened to their children, YET.
Personally, I think it is becoming a mental illness for some women. I know a couple of women who won’t let their own husbands watch the kids, even when the kids are 5, 8, 10….. Because they need to control every danger. And they don’t trust their husbands to be as vigilant as they are.
The guy couldn’t have been planning to sell the girl to the sex trafficking ring. She didn’t have a toy truck with a heart in heart design, and they can only traffic kids who have those. I thought everyone knew that.
“Hereâ€™s the police statement on the â€œincidentâ€. The comments section is extremely disturbing.”
Facebook Court is now in session!
Get out your pitchforks and back an irrational mom…
“Thankfully my husband left work to come to the mall so I didnâ€™t have to walk to my car alone.â€
And hopefully drive her to the doctor to get some help. What do one tell their employer when they have to leave work for this?? My wife is having trouble coping with…cellphones and scared at the mall? Why can’t mall security walk the mom to her car? Does anyone actually shop at malls anymore?
So many questions…
Puzzled, and James Pollock. Thanks, both of you, for a good laugh. 🙂
This woman should be telling her story to a psychiatrist, not on Facebook.
@m and @Brenna
I think you both are spot on.
DocHal: The premodern concept of the Evil Eye has never really gone away, and it’s come back as the postmodern concept of the Male Gaze.
What seems new, at least to me, is the perverse notion of “privacy in public”; the idea that one can draw boundaries in public or quasi-public spaces and decide who can cross them (all that was missing from the story was the mom shouting “we need some muscle here!”), that one can go out in public and not be looked at. That seems to be coupled with a rejection of truly private spaces as “exclusive” or “hegemonic”.
The smelliest part of the story? Every shopping mall I’ve ever been to is full of stores that cater exclusively to women. If a rational woman thought a man *might* be following her, she’d walk into one of those stores; a man who was minding his own business would simply walk on past. Nothing says she tried to do that.
“As an avid tourist, I have taken thousands of photos with other people in them, and so far nobody has attacked me for it. And Iâ€™m sure my kids and I are part of the scenery taken by many other tourists around the world. Oh, shiver.”
I’ve actually always loved that thought. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve thought about how cool/weird it is that I’m probably on the walls in other peoples’ homes, in the background of their Disney/beach/wherever pictures. I’ve secretly always hoped to walk into the home of someone I didn’t meet until I was 30 to find a picture of myself as a kid, or of a relative or childhood friend, in the background of their family photos. What serendipity that would be!
Everything about this story sounds wrong….from the opening comment that she never goes out alone to having to call her husband at work to walk her to her car. And how does she possibly know that she and her child were in all of the selfies she somehow knows he took?
“A couple of women accosted some tourists taking pictures of the scenery. One confiscated phones and cameras and called the police.”
I hope they were arrested for assault, vandalism, and theft?
Probably not, but they should have been.
Kathleen – “Iâ€™ve secretly always hoped to walk into the home of someone I didnâ€™t meet until I was 30 to find a picture of myself as a kid”
There are a couple different stories that went viral of couples getting married discovering photos from childhood with their future spouse in the background:
“Before British newlyweds Aimee Maiden, 25, and Nick Wheeler, 26, got married, the couple rifled through old photographs at the groomâ€™s grandparentsâ€™ home. They found a photo taken in 1994 of Wheeler building a boat in the sand with his sister and cousins in Mousehole, Cornwall, where Maiden grew up. In the backdrop, Maiden can also be seen playing at the beach with her family. Whatâ€™s particularly striking about this happenstance is that Wheeler lived nowhere near the area. The groom is originally from Kent, which is about 300 miles away from Mousehole, and was spending time there with his family on vacation. The two eventually officially met in college and got married on Saturday at the Gulval Church, just steps from where the original photo was taken two decades before their wedding day.
But this isnâ€™t the first time a married couple has made such an unlikely discovery. A week before their wedding, Alex and Donna Voutsinas found a photo of themselves when they were little kids in 1980 â€” 15 years before they would meet. The image shows Donnaâ€™s family posing with Mr. Smee and Alex being pushed in a stroller in the background, the Star reported in 2010. The two were actually living in different countries at the time.”
The “don’t look at me” reminds me of the phase my 9yo is going through. Suddenly she has become conscious of her body and doesn’t want me looking at her while she is dressing etc. Thing is, I’m not *looking* at her. Maybe I’m looking in that direction because I’m walking that way going about my business, or because she just bounded out of a doorway and I didn’t know she was half dressed. But “don’t look at me!” keeps being repeated. (Apparently the idea of closing the door or dressing before roaming the halls comes later.) Gosh, I hope my kid doesn’t grow up to be one of “those” people. 😛
I would guess that she “never goes anywhere alone” because her mom was a helicopter mom. So sad for her to have this mentality and so sad for her children that they’ll grow up with it too.
I’ve saide before here that if we call a spade a spade, and use the word “sexist” when discussing these “Eek! A Male!” stories, it might just make a few people pause.
“Iâ€™ve said before here that if we call a spade a spade, and use the word â€œsexistâ€ when discussing these â€œEek! A Male!â€ stories, it might just make a few people pause.”
That would imply that this is perfectly OK, as long as we start treating women the same way. You think that couldn’t happen?
No. It’s wrong, period. Call them delusional, or evil.
“This woman should be telling her story to a psychiatrist, not on Facebook.”
Yet all her FB friends and commenters think she’s perfectly normal.
What part of “you are out in public” do they not understand?
It’s hard to comment on this without using many swear words to emphasis how outrageous this is on every level!
I’m officially in a parallel universe 🙁
Often times, as a Brit, I like to put some of the crazy stories I see here down to Americans being a bit ‘out there’ and I feel glad I live in Scotland coz the hysteria hasn’t gotten as bad. But then I read the Southend story posted in the comments – WTF has the world come to?!
What I find disturbing is that this Social Shaming that goes on by posting pictures of men and attaching vilifying names to them comes off to me as Cyber Bullying. Except in this case you have NO IDEA who the person is, what they were doing, or why. But since these are such easy targets (men somewhere in public with children) its easy to start up a witch hunt.
Get the pitchforks and stocks folks, Salem lives again!
People post this sort of thing on Facebook because you can always find an echo chamber to support whatever position you take up. Including fearful Moms, who apparently have the ability to sense out child molesters by sight. Sadly this will probably never change.
I fly R/C helicopters for a hobby. Last Saturday I was flying at a local park, when a woman accused me of taking pictures of her children with my “drone”. I told her that it was a helicopter, not a drone and that there was not a camera on board. When she told me that she didn’t care that I needed to stop flying it, I told her to “Buzz off.” About fifteen minutes later the Police showed up. I showed them that there was no camera on the helicopter, but, they said that I needed to stop flying it because it made the woman nervous. I told the officer that I would stop because HE asked me to and this wasn’t the time or the place for me to argue. The time and place is tonight at the City Council meeting. The park I was at specifically allows R/C aircraft and model rockets to be flown there. It is the only park in the City where you are allowed to fly them.
Maybe she should be worried far more about how she got to the mall.
“I showed them that there was no camera on the helicopter, but, they said that I needed to stop flying it because it made the woman nervous.”
This is completely absurd and brings new meaning to “helicopter parent”.
Since when does a woman’s feelings (nervous) over your right to fly helicopters (which are very cool to watch for many children and their parents) at a public park. I appreciate your willingness to not argue with police, but I would have called them on it and made a point to this woman that she does not have the right ban legal activities that make her uncomfortable.
I don’t like smoking but don’t go around telling others to stop doing it in perfectly legal places. Or call the police on them because it makes me *nervous*, that makes ME the problem party. We need to call out these individuals and nip this in the bud before it escalates. Don’t give these Nervous Nelly’s the chance to feel sanctimonious, which is what they want, and walk away from that encounter thinking she is protecting children and a great mom. I’m surprised she hasn’t taken your picture and bragged about it on Facebook.
Good luck at your council meeting.
Feelings are the new law. The play ground bully now makes the rules
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”
-George Orwell 1984
Facebook shamings are the 2 minutes’ hate.
She’s got mental problems. Needs attention badly. Her husband knows it too; his leaving work to walk her to her car can’t be the first oddity of their marriage.
I’m a writer (at least I think so, lol….self-published, but still.) and I sometimes walk the mall or a Wal-Mart and see a kid that I think would be the spitting image of the character I had in my head. I’d love to whip out the phone and take a picture of said kid…however, I’m so terrified that I’d get in trouble that I don’t bother.
I get photos from shutterstock and such. Candid shots are much better for this writer’s needs. As I’ve mentioned before, once the kid knows he/she is being photographed the image loses something and the child’s behavior changes. Since, without probably raising someone’s ire, I can’t get the candids I want anyway…I just go with stock photographs for inspiration.
PS…How long did he have to delete his ‘selfies’? He has some quick fingers apparently.
The comments on that FB post! My god!
Here’s a gem: “He was more than likely scoping out young girls for sex trafficking. The mom that originally posted this was a very young looking blonde. He probably wasn’t after the kids. He has a large bag that probably has a change of clothes and drugs. He was probably taking pictures and sending it to his boss to see which girls he wanted. I don’t care if he actually committed a crime. I have no doubt he was planning on doing so.”
That’s…quite the scenario she cooked up there.
Flying helicopters sounds like fun. We used to run at a local middle school (to help my daughter train for a race). We would watch the helicopters flying as a reward. Please don’t stop doing fun things because crazy people are in the universe.
“How long did he have to delete his â€˜selfiesâ€™? He has some quick fingers apparently.”
Most likely, he was using snapchat and was probably on a *streak* with another snapchat user- they send photos back and forth, which are deleted after the send them. I don’t use snapchat but many, many people do and it means they take selfies constantly. How very annoying! But my money is on that over a sex trafficker with drugs and a change of clothes in the bag.
“my money is on that over a sex trafficker with drugs and a change of clothes in the bag.”
You’re just saying that because mall security actually stopped the guy, and had he had drugs and a change of (women’s? kids’? Both?) clothes in the bag, the outcome of their interview would have been different.
I like to ride the kiddie rides at the local amusement park to get my blood flowing. no one has ever looked at me funny. I have ridden rides with kids I didn’t know, simply because it was easier than waiting for the next train. I even made friends with a nine year old video game lover while waiting in line for the Banshee, and we rode the rollercoaster together. No ever screamed “OMG GET AWAY FROM THAT KID” at me, even though I didn’t know the kid personally.
“No ever screamed â€œOMG GET AWAY FROM THAT KIDâ€ at me, even though I didnâ€™t know the kid personally.”
Of course not. “EEEK! A WOMAN!” just doesn’t have that same horror attached to it.
To delurking – This happened long before the days of cellphones. Even today, there is no reason to be constantly looking at your phone. Why do you think something’s wrong if you’re not constantly texting/calling/tweeting or checking your email? Have we all become mindless zombies that can’t function without constantly being tethered to some electronic device. How do you function if your phone doesn’t get a signal, like when you’re riding the subway or in certain buildings? Or if your job requires you to turn the phone off? Or you’re driving? We were all able to survive long before cell phones.
I have no intention of stopping. The attitude of the Police Officer convinced me that it wasn’t the time nor the place to press it further. I made it clear that I was stopping at that time only because the officer asked me to. I am on the list to address this issue in front of the City Council tonight.
When my nephews were younger, we used to build model rockets on Good Friday and then I’d take them to the park on the Saturday before Easter to launch them. We would usually end up with five or six other kids watching us. I always brought enough supplies to do several launches. Pretty much every kid that was allowed to got to launch one. Damn shame those days are over.
The funny part is wait until I start test flying my drone in a few weeks.
@Elizabeth, I may be wrong, but I think if you’d been a guy it would have been a different story. No way to be sure, but I’m 95 percent positive.
It’s been a long time since I’ve even tried to be friendly with a strange kid at a park or wherever. I’m so paranoid about being perceived wrongly, I’m sure I must be putting off a vibe, lol.
@James Pollock, pretty sure if the kid’s mother had noticed, she would have screamed at him for “talking to a stranger”, even though the (sexist) consensus seems to be that women arent as great a threat.
As another resident of the 614, I had the same reaction you did. Kudos for pointing it out. But these are same groups where every panhandler is an axe murderer and the only solution is a concealed carry (which is fine is you want that but doing so out of fear of every other person just makes you dangerous) And lets not even get started on the freak out following a community internet safety talk that every single kid on a device is going to be a target for a sex trafficking pedophile
This whole thing bothers me. With so many people at the mall, how does one know if there is a pedophile nearby. I am certain that they have the same right as others to go to the mall, shopping and even riding on public transportation. Many people I see in malls whether they be a man, woman or child, most everyone has a cell. You cannot be suspicious all the time about who is doing what as long they mind their own business. Everywhere I go, there are cells pointed everywhere and you have to paranoid to think that people are taking pictures of you or your children. People are photographed most anywhere. But to post someone’s picture on a social site, it is asking for trouble. Not only the victim has been exposed for no wrong doing but he has the grounds to sue. He probably has a good chance to win the law suit. I believe people should think before they hastily act.
Just cuz your paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you !!
This is why I now carry pepper spray on me. I take photos of everything wherever I go, and I have for years, and have no intention of stopping.
If someone simply asks nicely what I’m doing, I’m happy to clarify my innocent intentions. However, if they get threatening, I’m not surrendering my camera or memory card or being “persuaded” to delete anything.
In public, you have no right to the expectation of privacy. Period. Get over it, or stay inside. End of story.
It shouldn’t be legal (and indeed maybe it isn’t) to go around posting photos of people you believe are ‘perverts’ – might this be slander? if you think there is a danger from someone, maybe forward to the police and let them decide. People forget there are real human beings involved – what if it was *your* husband or partner who someone decided to ‘name and shame’ as a paedophile because they commited the crime of being male near children they’re not related to? And I don’t see why people shouldn’t take pictures of clothed kids in public places… it’s not like they’re going to use the photo track down and kidnap them, or as though they can’t find pictures of children anywhere if they’re going to do gross things with Photoshop?
I am so glad that mom reacted and was able to sound the alarm and get help.
Also I must say “Lenore” (If that’s really your name….something tells me it’s LENORD and you have a teeny weeny peeny so you just pretend you’re a girl.)
Your article raises red flags and reeks of “DAMN I ALMOST GOT CAUGHT LET ME PRETEND TO BE A WOMANZ AND SHIFT SUSPICION FROM ME AND Y FELLOW PEDOS!”
my advice to you “Ma’am”
get used to and over the fact that while so tiny one would need a microscope to see it your little “friend” is actually a penis not a clit.
and that when stalking a toddler and trying to kidnap it and stalk the mom the best thing to do is NOT post an “article” like this one….
because it SCREAMS “OMG I ALMOST GOT CAUGHT!!!!!”
seriously your “article” is a waste of space and words. save all those words and all that space and just get to the point
“I tried to stalk and kidnap a child but the mom caught on and even told on me so now I’m mad and I’m going to slander her back”
simple and to the point.
Also kindly kill yourself.
Those of us who find your kind disgusting hope that when seeing their “leader” die the rest of the sheep on your “website” will follow and die too thus saving our kids.
What the hell did I just read?
The rantings of a sanctimommy with a potty mouth. Charming! She would have been right at home during the Salem witch trials
The rantings of a sanctimommy with a potty mouth. Charming! She would have been right at home during the Salem witch trials”
Now, now, we shouldn’t make fun of people in the latter stages of senile dementia.
misty henry-now now dear, what you should do is go find one of those nice people in the white uniforms that work where you live and say to them”nurse I believe my medications are off kilter and need to be adjusted”. they’ll be able to help you get your paranoid fantasies under control before you hurt yourself or others.
Okay, that made me laugh out loud.
Here I was, thinking this was just going to be another boring ordinary Thursday, and then WHAM, a rant about Lenore’s genitals. You couldn’t make it up if you tried 😀
Katie, I saw this original post too (and I applaud your response!), my concern was the follow up posts that came from another mom, who wasn’t even there, who then started accusing the man of either being involved in human trafficking or “a terrorist”. She went on in another post to try to rally the local moms to boycott the mall to prevent our children from being bombed. What?! These mommas need to get out more.
There was a mall wide meeting a few years ago when I was a manager in one of the stores where they let us know that they had been advised by Homeland Security that there was legitimate concern of an attack on shopping centers, and there had been incidents elsewhere of individuals taking pictures in malls… not of people, but of the structure itself. Looking for the weak spots or places that would cause or inflict the most damage to person and property in an explosion. After that, we ALL kept an eye out, but even we didn’t make as big of a fuss if we caught someone with a camera. Paranoia sucks.
Bravo to this Mom and shame on anyone who would vilify her for protecting her child. I wouldn’t have been able to show the restraint she did and would have gone after anyone that made me or my child(ren) feel unsafe. We know in this sad day and age to not trust anyone. I don’t care what color , sex or size this person is it was harassment and scary.
So this woman watched this man so intently she 1) knew he was taking photos 2) she was ‘in them’, then she/another woman took his photo, called security on him who confiscated his property, then she posted pictures of him online that was shared 19,000 times.
Who’s the stalker here?
This story baffled me until I read all the comments and looked at the FB link to the police whatever.
There it is! Racism and paranoia.
Well, in this day and age, I know not to trust people who go around talking about “in this day and age, we can’t trust anyone.” Please, tell us about this day and age, with its low crime rates and such, and why we can’t trust anyone. I also distrust people who say they won’t hesitate to assault people who “make them feel uncomfortable.” Other people’s rights don’t disappear because you don’t like them.
People who post stuff like this (and the insane comments) should go on a list of people who are not allowed to own guns, drive after dark, or take their children across state lines without the other parent’s written permission. If they include an innocent person’s photo they should be placed on an online searchable offender registry for 10 years.
And maybe they should have a CPS case opened too. I mean, this person who could not handle herself in a toddler play area, who could not walk to her car alone, has custody of a small child 24/7. She needs supervision.
“People who post stuff like this (and the insane comments) should go on a list of people who are not allowed to own guns, drive after dark, or take their children across state lines without the other parentâ€™s written permission.”
Your gun comment made me laugh out loud…as I just watched this CRAZY video from Samantha Bee (I love her!) about guns….and keeping them out of the *wrong* hands.
Thank God there are voices of reason in here.
Beth2, I absolutely will shame this woman. She is a paranoid attention whore and if she hadn’t started it none of this would have happened.
Honestly you can never be to careful now days. Yes, she was a little historical. But I wouldn’t tolerate some strange man following me taking pictures of me and my kids. He has no right and What are his motives. It’s better to be safe than sorry in my book.
The City Council banned R/C aircraft, model rockets and drones from all City owned Parks and Property.
“Bravo to this Mom and shame on anyone who would vilify her for protecting her child.”
In order to protect your child, there must first be a threat to your child.
“I wouldnâ€™t have been able to show the restraint she did and would have gone after anyone that made me or my child(ren) feel unsafe.”
You’re making me feel unsafe. Honestly, I FAR more convinced that YOU are likely to do something illegal and wrong than I am that the “mall stalker” will do something illegal and wrong.
“I wouldnâ€™t tolerate some strange man following me taking pictures of me and my kids. He has no right and What are his motives.”
Great! Except that if you’re in a public space A) he does have that right, and B) his motives are immaterial. Maybe he thinks your kids look like the ones that were in that Amber Alert, or on that billboard. Maybe they’re doing something cute or funny. Maybe he thinks you’re a crazy stalker bitch, and needs photos to show the cops. Maybe he thinks your kids are sexy little things and he wants to add their photos to his collection. Don’t care.