Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brother's Keeper

It's been said that the problem with social network sites is that you can never get totally away from your past or lose yourself entirely in the world, but this could also prove to be one of the strengths of this kind of social computing platform, because distributed communication allows people to stay connected despite the dislocations of the postmodern world.

Suzanne Hurray Seggerman, president and founder of Games for Change, has an innovative use of the social network site Facebook as a possible tool to help find missing persons. She launched a Facebook group called Looking for Robert Phillip Snyder b. 08/16/59, where several members are already using amateur data mining techniques to help track down Snyder.

Looking for Robert Phillip Snyder, born in Huntington Long Island on 8-16-1959. He worked for the US Park Service in Washington state in the 1980s. His brother Chris is a homeless guy on my corner - a good, kind and decent man who would like to find his brother. I've never seen Chris strung out, or drinking - he's always cheerful and kind to everyone in our neighborhood. He works when he can - shoveling our cars out of snow ditches, helping with the set up of the local market, doing odd jobs whenever anyone asks him. He likes to ride his bike and read books (mysteries are his favorites) and has been gentle and sweet with my daughter ever since she was a baby. When I first met Chris on his birthday 15 years ago, I remember that we were both in our early 30s - and that he looked his age. He was relatively healthy, with clean clothes and a normal weight. Not surprisingly, all that has changed over the years. Now he's extremely thin, grimy, losing his teeth and looks a decade older than his years, though he is always friendly and cheerful. I worry about his ailing health and want to help him find his brother before something more serious happens to him. I think through the power of Facebook, we can help Chris find his brother. Even if you have issues with how or why people become or stay homeless, please consider this as someone simply looking for a long-lost brother.

Considering some of the experiences that I've had recently with homelessness in my neighborhood, in which there was also a brother's keeper angle involved, I'm hoping for a happy ending in the Snyder case.



Post a Comment

<< Home