How long does it take to get from Connecticut to Alaska?
Just a couple hours, if you’re traveling on the internet superhighway!
That’s what I learned while trying to help my friend Tara contact a Mystery Man in the Last Frontier.
She didn’t know his name, or what town he lived in, just that he lived in Alaska, more than 4,000 miles away from her home in Connecticut.
So how long did it take to find out who he was?
About two hours.
His name is Tony, and we’ve connected.
I know the internet is a fast mode of communication, but such a quick and accurate response trying to locate a complete stranger, is just downright amazing. I’m in a bit of shock and awe over this whole thing.
A bit of the backstory –
Visiting from Connecticut with her family over Christmas vacation, Tara ran into a man who was also a tourist, on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Tara’s little girl Scarlet was instantly drawn to the man’s Dachshund Dixie, who bore the scars of a nasty rattlesnake bite on her little head. The man let Scarlet hold Dixie much to the girl’s immense enjoyment. “I was thinking, here we are at the Grand Canyon and all Scarlet wants to do is play with this little dog Dixie,” said Tara with a laugh.
Tara took a photo of the man and Dixie in front of a scenic canyon vista, got his email address, and promised to email him the photo when she got home.
Life being what it is though, Tara lost the email address when she unpacked. So she reached out to her Facebook friends and asked if they could get the word out and help her track him down. “Honestly, I didn’t expect anything would come of it, but I thought I would try,” she said.
She knew he lived in Alaska, so she made public on Facebook the photo she took of him and Dixie. Her Facebook friends got to work and immediately started posting information on various Alaska pages. I decided to help by posting the photo on my blog and befriending some Alaskan news sources on Twitter and sending them the link.
Went to bed, woke up the next morning, and there was a comment on my blog from Lisa W saying “I know this man, he is my friend Joe’s brother…” Other people responded too, saying they also knew who he was.
My first thought was wow, I can’t wait to tell Tara, we have an ID on the Mystery Man!
But then I thought, really, can this really have happened so fast? The next day I got an email from Tony, who indeed was the Mystery Man in the photo! I think he was in a bit of “shock and awe” that someone had gone to such lengths to find him.
Forget email, Tara’s going to send Tony a framed photo now.
1. The internet is indeed the information superhighway. Connecticut is 4,435.3 miles away from Alaska, but thanks to Facebook and social media, in reality we are much, much closer. Walt Disney was right, it’s a small world after all.
2. People in Alaska are NICE! I didn’t get one snarky or misleading comment. So many caring and helpful responses, including these words of encouragement from a lady named Kayla:
Oh did I mention I live in Alaska! I do, I live in the south east panhandle, Petersburg to be exact. We are a small island community with a population of 3,000. I do not know this man and I do not think that I have seen him, as Alaska is HUGE. But you are getting close! I did share your post with my 500+ facebook friends ranging all over Alaska reaching out into some of the most far north communities and also bigger cities. I am sure you will find him one of these days. I can not promise it will be because of me. Alaska is a like a small tight knit community itself. Despite its size everybody knows everybody! Some one will recognize him and his picture will spread. Good luck on your search and have a wonderful day.
And that’s how this story spread so quickly. People like Kayla just getting the word out.
3. I want to go to Alaska. Any papers out there need a seasoned journalist?