What she found wasn't a cute photo or a message about somebody buying some new shoes, though. It was an IM just sent from her young nephew, stuck in his family's Aurora, Illinois basement, because the doorknob broke off. He's been locked in for 45 minutes, before he had a thought: This is the computer room, and my aunt is a total techie.
It worked. Ann got the young man's Facebook IM, called her sister in Aurora, and the nephew was freed.
Once again, the Internet saves the day.
I say again, because despite all the surveys you read about how the Net will doom society by turning us all into disconnected, out-of-shape zombies, I think it's now safe to say with a straight face that surfing the Web makes us better off.
Now, I'll admit, there are plenty of people taking advantage of social networking technology to swindle, stalk, and slime others. It's superfast communication, which is both good and bad. You've heard the bad. Here's some of the good.
How about Craigslist? Recently, a family says it couldn't find their elderly father. A post on the "Missed Connections" section of the website resulted in the man being found and returned safely.
After Ann posted her nephew's story as a status update on Facebook the comments started to flood in. One woman talked about how a colleague had been released from being trapped in an elevator, because he went on FB to find a rescuer. Another talked about how she found out her son was not in bed when he was supposed to be, because she found hin on FB (did I mention you can use it to snoop on others?) Most just thought it was a cool story. One said it sounds like a movie pitch.
Hey, if Shaquille O'Neal can find out that he was traded via Twitter, maybe an alert aunt can help her nephew escape from a locked room. Social networking is instant, worldwide, and yes, a dangerous minefield at times. But it can also help people, something we shouldn't forget.
Scott Budman got this story through a tip. Send your tip to @scottbudman on Twitter.