Sign Of The Times: Kidnapped Girl On Social Networking Site? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Christine Devine

Sign Of The Times: Kidnapped Girl On Social Networking Site?

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I wrote this blog after Hannah Anderson, the girl kidnapped in San Diego, was days later on a social network site. I re-visit the blog as today she gave her first interview and said the reaching out in such fashion was a way of healing. She also noted how mean some can be as was witnessed in some who wrote the 16-year old. Here's my take on it all.

 

Is it a sign-of-the-times, a modern teen just being a teen?

I ask these questions after the kidnapped girl, Hannah Anderson, recently rescued was days later chatting on a social network site. After a horrific tragedy on so many fronts Hannah Anderson was talking to complete strangers. From her account on ask.fm: "I'm just still shocked and this (whole) thing seems unreal." (at the end of this blog, Hannah, something that may help)

We are an Internet society and no surprise teens turn to social media as a cathartic outlet. Still, I'm baffled by kids and how they just "put it all out there." Family fight, bad break up, feeling sad etc. etc. etc. I work with teens, many of them from troubled backgrounds, and often find there is little filter with the world being made aware of things I would have wanted to keep private in the past. On many occasions I've served as a bit of a counselor talking... typing... kids through their problem. Reports are the Hannah account was active before the kidnapping. Was this Hannah just returning to normal teen activity?

I guess what's shocking in this scenario is how soon she's posting after such a devastating ordeal. Not only was Hannah missing for seven days, she was rescued in dramatic fashion after a shoot-out between her kidnapper and the FBI. She'd been taken miles and miles across country from San Diego to Idaho by a family friend. Hannah learned later that her mother, brother and dog had been killed, their bones found in the burned home of the suspect. Yet days later, she's apparently ready to talk about it all and so publicly.

The account answers a question about the horseback riders who came across the two in the wilderness: "I had to act calm I didn't want them to get hurt. I was scared that he would kill them."

As a veteran news person, am curiously watching someone control their own story? No exclusive with news network queen Diane Sawyer. No special with Oprah. No news conference with an attorney or police by her side. Just an account identified as Hannah's answering questions like:      

"Are you aloud to say why you cnt talk about it?"

"Because they told me not too an everyone doesn't need to know everything. Y'all know a hell of a lot already."

Is this a new concept of the citizen journalist? Ask.fm is purely a question/answer website. While it has not been verified that the person posting was actually Hannah Anderson our sister station in San Diego confirmed it was linked to the girl's Instagram account. Per the postings, there was lots of information and news reporter would want to know and it filled in some of the holes in the story. Like, how did this all happen? The amber alert that jolted California cell-phones had authorities searching for Hannah, her brother and suspect James Dimaggio. The ask.fm account reads: "he told us he was losing his house because of money issues so we went up there one last time to support him, and to have fun riding go karts up there but he tricked us."

Another odd thing, her father had asked for privacy once she was found. So much for that. Again, a teen being a teen? Social media is what they do. People asked questions too that any teen would ask in a normal chit-chat. There were also the inappropriate, mean, painful and cruel comments too, unworthy of me re-posting. Back to that, sign of the times.

As I read through the site, I wondered too the following. Is this a cathartic outlet? Uncomfortable? Too soon? I've learned people grieve, heal, vent and cope in unexpected ways. When my father drowned while scuba diving I found my own mother's reaction to be not the norm. In fact, that's why I find it hard to judge in news stories as I've see too many people not respond the way society, or even the movies, would lead us to believe. Did Hannah go and get her nails done? There's a picture posted after a stop to the nail salon with one nail painted pink and blue representing Hannah's mom and brother. I'm not judging. Perhaps it was an attempt at normalcy, some comforting pampering, a chance for a girl who'd been out in the wilderness with a killer creep to feel again like a girl. One person questioned Hannah on an apparent lack of emotion. She writes "I'm trying to stay strong. You don't know I could be crying answering these questions at the moment." She admitted she is seeing a therapist.

I think the greatest thing that can come of this is the opportunity for society to show support. Many writing did just that. I even wanted to write and give a great big(typed) hug. The account reads: "I will never forgive myself for not trying harder to save them(mom and brother)." To Hannah, I would say/write: "Take time to heal, feel, scream, cry, grieve, but don't forget to learn, live, and love. A friend gave me a book when my father was ripped from my arms. It's called "A Time To Grieve." I give it to everyone I know who suffers a sudden loss. I keep spares around and would give you one... but then again... I only know you through ask.fm(my new account is DevineNews). I did, however, find a copy for you on-line... another sign-of-the-times.

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