You know the typical teen runaway story: parents try to discipline their kid over a poorly thought-out relationship, who then thinks they’re the worst people in the world and decides to run away with their lover. Usually it only lasts a couple of days until the kids realize they’re completely not prepared to strike out in the world, and sulk home in shame. Usually it’s only the immediate friends and family who ever know about it, because teens running away is relatively common enough that the larger world doesn’t notice it. Usually.
Not in the case of one McKenzie Church, however. Her worried parents are Internet savvy, and are using the full power of Twitter, blogs, and now Digg to track her down, even though her situation may not merit such a level of public involvement. Even the police are classifying her as not being in danger, and aren’t devoting any resources to looking for her. For no compelling reason, McKenzie Church’s parents are quickly propelling her down the road of becoming “Internet Famous” — the consequences of which will stick with her much longer than the consequences of running away ever will. Just ask Allison Stokke about her experiences with becoming Internet Famous.
The situation with McKenzie Church started with the online posting of a simple Missing poster by her parents. Then they put it on Twitter. Fanned by missing cute white girl syndrome (and her three-years-older boyfriend, to be fair, kind of looking like a douchebag), it’s currently being retweeted at a rate of greater than once a second. The story made the top-rated section on Digg, where Internet culture nerds have taken it upon themselves to stalk the ever-loving-hell out of the private Catholic school girl with the flimsy pretense of trying to help locate her. They’ve dredged up her profile on Facebook, as well as that of her boyfriend. Commenters have offered up suggestions to look through every one of her listed friends on the online site and contact them one by one in an effort to track her down.
This is quickly ballooning out of control. Long after McKenzie Church returns home, she’s going to have to deal with the fallout of becoming Internet Famous in the process. A lot of her personal information is going to get out there, a lot of which she’d probably rather have remain private. It’s not that long before we start seeing photos from her online networking sites hitting the web — a.k.a. “the full Amanda Wenk”. And you can bet that every Internet culture nerd out there is praying to Jehovah that those photos will turn out to be very juicy.
Kenzie is most definitely going to regret ever having run away, but her parents are going to regret even more the hell they’re putting her through by searching for her in this fashion. The Internet is a triple-edged sword.