Sometimes the internet is vile, or pointless, or a time-sink.
Sometimes the internet is pretty great: a few days ago, I finally met an old friend for the first time [a concept that is really only possible in the internet age].
And sometimes the internet is truly great. A few days ago a thread was posted on Ask Metafilter* by a concerned member, fake. Acquaintances of his had arrived in the US on a temporary working visa, but the promised job in Washington had fallen through, and their contact wasn’t responding to their calls. Instead, they were told to meet another man, at midnight, in a bar in New York. The women wouldn’t heed fake’s warnings, and got on a bus to New York.
This rang obvious alarm bells with many site members, so they jumped to help. Within a few hours, a member who worked in trafficking prevention had become involved. Others offered advice and provided information on anti-trafficking resources in New York. (All this while fake was driving across the south-west of America, updating the thread by phone).
I’d been following the thread from the start; I went to bed with things looking pretty bad, but by the time I woke up things were mostly solved: someone had phoned the women on the bus and convinced them not to go to the meeting, and another Metafilter member had met them at the station:
Knowing what I do about 20-ish women who are in NYC for the first time (been there, drank that) my strategy was not to try to convince them of anything. Instead, I provided them a fun third alternative to Sketchy Boss and Nagging Dad-type (no offense, Fake, you were incredible throughout). I emphasized that I didn’t care what they did, or who they met, I just wanted to hang with them and have fun and go out. Sheesh!
Right now, these women are staying with this Metafilter member, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9, who canceled a job interview to spend time with the women. Metafilter members have been sending her money to help the women. A quite extraordinary example of how people who have never met can come together to help each other. Makes me proud to be on the same forum as these people.