A San Francisco mother mobilized police and the Internet at large to help find her missing 22-year-old son this week, but it turns out, his phone had just died. Sure, it makes for easy jokes about helicoptering moms, but in this case, the son did give her good cause to worry. Evan Flanary went missing June 19, and he was last seen in San Francisco's Mission district heading off to meet up with a contact from "social phone app," according to his mom's initial Facebook posting. (SFist, which has been tracking this story, suggested he was using Grindr, an app gay men use to meet up, or something similar.) So, yes, that's scary. Meet-ups with online dates in which one person does not return or answer his phone are kind of textbook mom's-biggest-nightmares. Flanary's apparently very media savvy mother, Deborah Berlingeri, posted constantly to her Facebook page, appeared on local television, and got her son's photos onto blogs and into news stories. It's no wonder her website helpfindevan.com, and her pleas to police and media to keep an eye out for her son spread: The longer he remained missing, the grimmer his case seemed.
As it turns out, Flanary's meet-up wasn't scary after all. In fact, it seems to have gone so well that he spent the next seven days ignoring his phone, which had run out of batteries, and unaware of the flyers with his face making their way around the city. (San Francisco was in the midst of Pride Week celebrations.) His mom took to Facebook to explain:
He had met a person, they hit it off fabulously, they were down town enjoying all the week's festivities. The battery in his cell phone died and although he had a charger, it just wouldn't take the charge. He never noticed the flyers but today he saw his image on a television screen and could NOT believe it. He called me just minutes before the KNTV interview was scheduled to begin, so instead of crying I was grinning like the village idiot!! I love that boy.
What a happy ending!
Many of us probably have a story to tell about our friends' overprotective moms (or our own) who get nervous when we drop off the grid, but Flanary's will surely trump most all of them. But then again, as technology allows us to share more with each other and feel constantly in contact with our friends, loved ones, and colleagues ("ambient intimacy," as The New York Times Magazine once called it), it becomes even more worrisome when we don't hear from each other. A false alarm is certainly better than an alternative. For now, happily, "HelpFindEvan.com" is for sale. The site reads: "If you have a wayward child called Evan, or you've simply left someone called Evan in the toy department of a crowded store...have we got a deal for you!"