Thursday, May 31, 2012

The moral of George Brett's lost dog tweets

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 1:22 PM

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A missing black Labradoodle was briefly trending on Twitter yesterday. Charlie, who happens to be owned by George Brett, was found after a series of appeals by the former Royal to his 11,883 followers.

Brett has been on Twitter (or Tweeter as he called it May 28) for only 26 days. But when his pup disappeared, the Mission Hills neighborhood search for the pooch suddenly had eyes on it all over the country. However, yesterday's travails and the digital version of a poster-on-streetlights-campaign actually shed a lot more light on us than on him.

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Charlie is missing. The time stamp is 11:35 p.m. Tuesday night. Brett sends out nine tweets in the next 22 minutes. There are several pictures of Charlie, and the Twitterverse learns he is scared of the rain and possibly without his collar.

Initially, Brett is communicating with fans who have retweeted his plight. He posts the neighborhood he lives in and explains that there is a reward within reason. One fan announces his intention to drive in from St. Joseph, tweeting that he would help Brett find his TV remote if asked.

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After a short while, Brett starts reaching out for help to media and sportwriters, Sports Illustrated's Peter King and ESPN's Buster Olney among them. Brett is still tweeting back and forth with fans, one of whom has taken to 69th Street in flip-flops, at 2 a.m.

It takes only a few minutes after Brett pleads for followers to begin using the hashtag #FindCharlie to raise awareness for the first jokes to come online - Frank White has the dog, terrorists are responsible and this story is so ridiculous that it has to be true. It takes only a few hours for the well-wishers to give way to skeptics and conspiracy theorists. The debate begins over whether this is actually the Twitter handle of the George Brett (the account is not yet verified) and if it is, whether Charlie was stolen or kidnapped. Those who have taken to the streets have been chased home by the storm.

The end result is a happy one with Charlie safe at home before 8 a.m. yesterday morning. But this lost-dog story comes with a parable about our increasingly complex relationship with celebrities. We have more access than ever to the private lives of public figures - albeit still on their terms - and their emotions. Brett's conversations read like moments at Spring Training, repeated thank yous for advice and well-wishing. But those with good intentions were swallowed by the frenzy to get in the first snarky comment about what, at its core, should be a situation that inspires empathy, not parody.

Charlie was found, but I can't help feeling like a little bit of us was lost in the search.
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