Late breaking news: thanks to the power of social media, the now infamous deer feeder thief has been identified as Phillip Tijerina from Pleasanton, Texas. In case you hadn’t heard the story, the feeder’s owner, Tim Bieniek from Corpus Christi, posted game cam photos on his Facebook page of the thief in action–literally stuffing a deer feeder into the back seat of his sedan–and within hours the photos were shared all over Facebook. Someone recognized the man loading the deer feeder into his car and she contacted Bieniek.
We also picked up the story and photos here on LSC when they were shared by a mutual friend we have with Tim, and we ran it as a side story to my recent Power of Social Media post (about my thoughts on social media becoming another arm of the law). I then posted our story’s link on a few local forums and within 18 hours we had over 4,000 views (not much for some sites, but for us it’s a lot of traffic in one day).
It didn’t take long before the story took on a life of its own, being shared across multiple forums around the country. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if the photos were circulating in Russia by now. I mean, think of the irony: 24 hours ago we were trying to figure out who this guy was, and now we not only know his name, his girlfriend’s name and even where he works, but we’ve also seen several of their very personal photos splashed about the Internet. There’s a TV commercial that’s always asking, “What’s in your wallet?” The real question is what’s on your Facebook?
I’m still trying to figure out why this thing went viral so quickly, and I think it’s for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s just too easy. Everyone has a cell phone and they all come with good quality cameras. Then you add to that easy internet access and what you have is a potent one-two punch against those who would trespass against us. Hell, this guy was found using a game cam tied to a tree. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
The other reason, I think, is the inherent desire of a healthy society to police itself. I mean nobody likes a thief, right? Most of us weren’t born of money and a lot of us have had to work hard to acquire the few things we have. Then along comes homeboy here to steal it in about three minutes flat. Luckily for the good guys, tattoo man isn’t very sharp; I can only guess that it never occurred to him someone might actually hang a game cam next to a deer feeder. I think it was put best by one online poster who replied to our story and said, “The internet is a dangerous place if you’re an idiot.”
Lone Star Chronicles: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish