robbery and the Net as amplifier

i’ve been following a thread about a fairly well-known blogger who was recently robbed. she has been chronicling some of her feelings (see why my robbery matters), and also pursuing the perpetrators, online.

it makes me wonder about a few things, and reminds me of when i got robbed…

net as amplifier
social networks can be used as a means to willfully (or unintentionally) destroy or enhance reputation. i believe this to be true independent of the internet; the net just makes it easier and faster for those with the connections.

the aforementioned blogger posted pictures of her robbers on her blog. i am certain that she did this with the best of intentions, but there could be unintended consequences to her action, and the social network amplifies them (both the good and the bad). one could imagine scenarios where one or more of the men in those photos were drunk, irresponsible, yet innocent, bystanders. i am not saying this is the case, but rather pointing it out as a possibilitiy in other situations.

in devious hands, this process of net amplification could be used to smear and distort people’s actions and events. in other hands, it could accelerate the wheels of justice to good end.

the net is no different than other media channels in this sense – it is a neutral vehicle that is ambivalent about the quality or accuracy of the content it carries.

i got robbed once
fwiw, i experienced something similar…i had my entire bank account drained in a matter of days after a debit card theft.

through serendipity and deduction, and with the help of the police and others, we were able to apprehend the “thug.” our perp turned out to be none other than my next-door-neighbor’s girlfriend. she was a blond, white, 26-year-old woman, who also happened to be a closet sociopath / bulimic / cocaine addict who had been robbing friends and family blind and pilfering identities wherever she went; she finally got caught, but left quite a wake of wreckage behind her.

after the sting in which she was caught, i met with a us attorney to provide a statement. this woman stole a total of roughly $70,000 and caused pain to dozens of people spread across several states. how long could she go to jail? the us attorney consulted a table (plot depth of crime vs. type of crime vs. how many offenses) –>2-3 years, maximum (it’s all a formula).

i went to her sentencing hearing. justice was served, such as it was. she cried at her hearing, where she was sentenced to 1000 hours of community service, a year in a halfway house with an electronic tracking bracelet, and drug rehab programs. she also had to pay back all she stole (mostly to financial institutions who had already reimbursed their clients).

when i walked out of the hall of justice, i felt no satisfaction. i felt hollow and sad for the desperate hell of that woman’s life, one that i couldn’t really understand. she committed a crime and needed to face consequences, but prison wouldn’t have helped her. who knows what happened to her after a year spent wearing that bracelet.

i drew my own mixed conclusions from those experiences, and they’re harder to articulate than i would have imagined. after all was said and done, i’d say forgiveness provided me the most lasting and meaningful resolution.