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What Do Balloon Boy, the TSA, and Little April Rose Have in Common?

It’s not really a good riddle.

Quick on the heels of having emotions jerked with the boy-who-was-in-a-balloon-except-he-wasn’t-in-the-balloon (and instead of getting the sigh-of-relief conclusion where we all find catharsis in the fact that the boy is safe, we are instead left questioning the motives of the parents), comes the TSA-took-my-child except they didn’t because the TSA posted the video.

And this is all on the heels of the Little April Rose scandal and who knows what else–it seems like these small implosions of stories are constantly burst all over the blogosphere like fireworks.  Interesting to look at, but scary in the damage they could potentially do.  Everyone has their own version of these explosions in their corner of the blogosphere and you probably know of some that have rocked your world that I haven’t heard about yet.

Some would say what’s the true harm–you’re emotionally jerked through a story, yes, and the other person receives attention, but no one was injured, nothing was taken, the story explodes and we all walk away shaking our head and it’s over.

Except it’s not over.

Because these incidents make us cynical.  They–like a lit firework held in our hands–cause burns and once we’re burned, we’re pretty shy about holding the next story in our heart.  I’m not saying that I’ll never watch the news or read a blog post again without my usual naive belief that people are good and tell the truth.  But for a period of time after each of these explosions, I sometimes doubt other stories that pass my way, stories I wouldn’t have doubted at another time.  I think in the ALI community, the Little April Rose scandal has made us sniff at every story, smelling for something bad before we trust that we can believe it.  I think that the TSA story will have the same effect and people who could use support–not doubt–will not receive it due to the lies of others.

Which sort of sucks hardcore.


1 Heather { 10.17.09 at 11:38 am }

And then like ripples when a stone is thrown in water – the effects move outward. People who have been blogging about their hard times receive the aggressions of people lashing out their anger. Good people, already going through hard times. It hurts my heart.

2 Mrs. Gamgee { 10.17.09 at 12:21 pm }

I hate that moment of questioning the writer’s sincerity when I stumble across one of those heart-rending stories. I despise wonder that flashes through my mind… wondering if this is what it seems to be or just another fiction. But, perhaps I am a sucker for punishment, because I keep giving people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think I could do anything else.

3 Kristin { 10.17.09 at 12:36 pm }

I just don’t understand the mentality that allows people to behave like this and make up stories like this.

4 Mom101 { 10.17.09 at 12:37 pm }

Perfect. And yes yes yes.

I waffle between being the benefit of the doubt person I normally am, and just turning hard, cold cynic like maybe I should be more often.

It pains me to want to think the best of people and then be consistently disappointed.

5 Natalie { 10.17.09 at 12:51 pm }

I had not heard of the TSA story one. Now that one is completely ridiculous. I’ve heard of people making up entire stories of sick kids, it’s happened before. And the whole balloon thing just sounded like stupid parents to me. But taking a frustrating situation and turning it into a huge deal? WTF? What the hell was the motivation in that? Publicity?

I especially love how people responded to the video by saying “Yeah, but it was totally awful how she had to wait in a box for that long and it was so incredibly slow!” I agree, I think it was stupidly slow. However, slow/inefficient processing is a FAR CRY from taking her son, which is what she claimed. Entirely different issues there.

I just don’t understand people, not at all.

6 JuliaS { 10.17.09 at 1:01 pm }

I hate this – I hate that there are people who will toy with our emotions like this. I also hate that it makes it harder for those who truly are suffering and need support, encouragement and compassion to receive it. That said, I just tell myself that I would rather err on the side of compassion (with the added caution that I don’t send money!). At least when or if the story turns out to be a tale – I will know that I was the one who stayed true to myself.

7 Aurelia { 10.17.09 at 1:21 pm }

There is no doubt that the balloon dad has some major mental health issues. His “press conference” this morning sealed that. Who knows if it’s fraud? I’m just ticked that the media and the network for their reality show never checked his story out a year ago when they first heard reports of problems, like taking kids into storms, and his actions towards the other people on the reality show.

But again, that’s all been confirmed with multiple sources over and over. Same for April Rose–we know for sure that was fraud because people who knew her came forward.

But that video from TSA is meaningless. It’s heavily heavily edited, and you know how easy it is to alter video. After years in the film industry, I certainly know! I just asked a friend of mine, a long time film editor to watch it with me on her laptop while we sat on the phone….it’s not credible. She pointed out multiple spots where the child could be gone and the screen could be split. (Very similar to the tape submitted by the RCMP in the Robert Dziezanski case….they put the bits up that make them look good.) The credibility of the TSA and the US govt is pretty low on the subject of airport security, so their word it’s correct is not enough.

So no, I don’t think it’s fair to rush to judgement here, and I hope this poor woman isn’t destroyed by this.

We have no idea what really went on, and fighting back from this would take loads of money and lawyers and technical help. So I’m not surprised her blog is gone. I feel so bad for her.

8 Battynurse { 10.17.09 at 1:28 pm }

Funny I don’t remember ever reading about April Rose or hearing about the TSA thing.
It’s sad that people feel so much like either they or their cause need attention so badly that they will make stuff up. It often usually ends up causing not so great things for them though and makes them look like an idiot. It does however tend to make people more cynical.

9 Heather { 10.17.09 at 2:08 pm }

I just read the TSA thing, I hadn’t heard about that. That one post is there but when I try to go to her whole blog – it is just black? Am I doing something wrong?

10 Lollipopgoldstein { 10.17.09 at 2:12 pm }

No, she manually took down the rest of her blog besides that post. Which I think is strange. She states that she did that because of trolls, but she could have closed the comments as she did on the TSA post (there were 300+ comments, but she removed them) and left up the other posts. Or she could have put up a message stating that she took down her blog rather than putting up a message that said that her blog is down due to excessive traffic. The whole thing is fishy because she spent so much time and energy trying to get the story read, and then clams up when she actually needs to address the story. I’m sorry, but the lesson is don’t throw a stone and run. If it’s true, she needs to put on her big girl panties and stand by her words. If you read her twitter stream, she was very keen to have as many eyes on this story as possible. I’m not sure where she thought it would end or how drawing attention to her words wouldn’t mean also needing to stand by them and back them up when questioned.

11 Somewhat Ordinary { 10.17.09 at 2:47 pm }

When I read the post yesterday it was the first time I had ever been on her blog and I was literally tearing up reading it. I think our sons are very close in age and it hurt to think that something like this could happen. That being said Iit struck me as I read that she has some severe anxiety issues and thought maybe, just maybe she might have been overreacting. She was talking about the emergency pills and how she called her husband, but later didn’t remember calling him. I wonder if this was some sort of delusional thing she went through during a panic attack? She may have really believed that happened to her. Now that a video has serviced she has to eat crow.

As for the Balloon Boy – well, those parents are just too odd for words. I have a feeling it will come out that this wasn’t a planned hoax. I think dear old dad was afraid he was going to get in a lot of trouble once that balloon accidentally took off and might possibly cause an accident in the air or come down on a highway or something so to get the heat off of him concocted a story about the son maybe being aboard so the attention would be a rescue mission rather than some idiot want to be scientist that really screwed up!

12 Stephanie { 10.17.09 at 3:31 pm }

Maaaaan. Just what did she hope to accomplish with this? I suppose she did get her 15 minutes of fame, though what a price to pay. Probably would have been better just to bitch about the 15 minute TSA delay and then go have glass of wine and a nice soak in the tub. It’d have received way less hits but she’d have a few people offer some sympathy AND a blog that won’t be marred with embarrassing lie juice.

13 a { 10.17.09 at 3:42 pm }

And that’s why I don’t watch much news. I saw a few seconds of the balloon boy’s parents’ interview, and I inferred that they were just kind of over-reactive/dramatic people. I get the same impression from the TSA stole my kid lady – If you believe the video is an accurate representation of things, then she quickly got impatient and upset. I can understand her point. A single beep ought to merit a repeat trip through the scanner after a pocket check.

I guess it’s good to be a cynic – you’re not surprised when stuff like this happens.

14 Lassie { 10.17.09 at 6:25 pm }

I think it is human nature to respond to others in pain, which is why the ‘Net is so tricky. You can’t really ever know who is in pain without seeing their face or hearing a voice. Even then it is easy to be deceived. I worry about how this will effect the next generation. Will they be better at sniffing out a rat and moving on or simply more jaded?

15 Wishing4One { 10.17.09 at 6:50 pm }

Man i am so out of the loop and how? I am online everday, i read ALI blogs all the time. I did however see the balloon boy and family on Larry King. I guess I did see the April Rose thing mentioned on blogs but never quite got it, nor did i go the blog in question, i just thought it was someone pulling a fast one, which I guess it was? So this TSA story is connected with her? Lolli can u send me a url and super short synopsis? If time permits of course.

16 Wishing4One { 10.17.09 at 6:51 pm }

Opps i will click through links tomorrow when i get up. Sorry i missed those.

17 Rach { 10.17.09 at 6:58 pm }

The tsa agents did NOT take her child in the way her post implies.

I agree with a, that a beep through the scanner ought to solicit another walk through and then the wand over BUT we live in times of increased security in airports. If there wasn’t increased security then everyone would be bleating that the security isn’t high enough and that they don’t feel safe.

The woman suffers from anxiety so any situation which induces stress is likely to see her panic and possibly overreact – which imo was the case here. After all he was a government official in a very public place, what was he likely do to or with her child? Sneak him out the back for him never to be seen again?

18 HereWeGoAJen { 10.17.09 at 8:22 pm }

I kind of thought that she was overreacting in her panic. Not necessarily knowing that she was lying, but just having a blur between what she feared happening and what was actually happening.

I’m actually pretty impressed with the way TSA handled it. (Well, this assume that they came up with the correct video and didn’t edit it in their favor, but there’s no evidence the other way as of yet.)

I agree though. Stories like these have done actual, real harm in our community, in my opinion.

19 missingone { 10.17.09 at 8:46 pm }

so….the weird thing is I watched the video, and doesn’t it look like that’s a girl child? not a boy like the blog says? Did TSA post a video of someone else? I’m so totally confused now

20 Rach { 10.17.09 at 11:57 pm }

Ok I’ve just watched the video and not only did the TSA NOT take her child but she was never seperated from him. They checked him while she was HOLDING him and then she put him in his stroller.

Her accusations are lies according to that video.

As for the child looking like a girl when it’s supposed to be a boy….it’s hard to tell these days especially when alot of younger boys have long hairstyles like girls do.

21 Caitlin { 10.18.09 at 2:07 am }

Hmm not so sure what to say here…I live in the town where this boy “floated” away from…AND I work in radio. Needless to say we covered this story all damn day.

I called it when I told a friend, tomorrow’s headline is going to read “boy found hiding in neighbors home; grounded for life”. Seriously it took up our entire day getting as much info as possible and reporting on this “poor” little boy. Directing volunteers to help search for him…ugh…it was exhausting. Only to find out he was okay all along? All right. I get that it’s wonderful this boy is alive…but seriously? To hear that it was all a hoax?

22 Hevel { 10.18.09 at 2:56 am }

I think it all began well before April Rose.

At least on LJ it did. I have been on LiveJournal since 2003, when it was still an invite only community and I think I saw the first fake baby death drama errupt within two months I signed up. There are communities for fake_lj_deaths and fake pregnancies and all those. For me the AR story smelled fishy from the first minute I read it, so I never actually went back till a friend pointed out I was right about it. It all happened around the same time as the very real child abuse case of Emily McDonald – a fellow moderator of the preemies community on LJ – became public.

Now about the present case: I think she never thought TSA would respond to her accusations. And probably she didn’t think it’d get this big.

23 cindi { 10.18.09 at 11:41 am }

I read all the stories you linked to in this post. When I first heard about balloon boy it was aftr he had been found. I admit to watching wife swap (guilty pleasure) and when I found out who balloon boys parents were….I immediately thought hoax. These people have been doing everything they can to get publicity. Unfortunately, their young son was subjected to all kinds of negative attention in their attempt for fame. The other stories are clearly just as depressing. To use a blog as a personal and public forum is why we all started blogs. However, when you play on emotions for the simple goal of attracting attention and drawing undeserved sympathy and not just for a personal outlet, it causes us all to questions everyone’s motives. Thank you for bringing these stories to my attention.

24 once a mother { 10.19.09 at 3:04 pm }

I don’t know why people feel the need to lie for attention like that. The april rose story disgusted me, the balloon story annoyed me, and the TSA story, how ridiculous! All of these people should be ashamed of their behavior, using lies about children to garner attention… its just pathetic!

25 Jamie { 10.20.09 at 2:31 pm }

It ~does~ suck hardcore. I am the kind of person that wants to believe people and wants to accept things at face value.

I was complaining to Hubby the other day about today’s movies and the things that can be done with computers. When I was younger, I would watch movies with amazement, wondering, “How did they do that?!?!” Now I just shrug and think, “Computers.”

I want to look at things with wonder and amazement again.

26 April { 10.21.09 at 9:43 am }

I’ve always been the type to believe and hope, pray, and worry for those who are in unfortunate situations. More and more it seems that the things that scare us the most are the ones that are false. It erodes my confidence in journalism and in my own ability to separate fact from fiction. It’s very disheartening.


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