Saturday, December 4, 2010

Trans-America II: Thanksgiving dinner and a crazy risk.

Thanksgiving has come and gone so it's only right that I should update on the Trans. I follwed this story through and it turns out the Trans were just as excited to make a new friend as James West was, so they invited him along to Thanksgiving and even offered to pick him up at the airport and spend the whole weekend with him. They ate, they drank, they gave thanks. They seemed to all be having a great time, and the Trans have not only invited West back again next year, but have invited themselves to Sydney to visit him.
The story, while maybe not viral, certainly seemed to gain a bit of momentum with West interviewed on Sunrise here in Australia, and a Tran/West interview with the local Florida news in America. In all the updates the Trans and West chatter and bicker like old friends, and the whole family seem completely relaxed and thrilled to have him share their Thanksgiving.

That said, obviously not everyone has felt that this adventure was a great idea. I think maybe in my last post I was a bit vague about a few things, and maybe exaggerated or generalised a bit too much - it's a bad habit, I know. What I probably should have said is that the majority of the people I know happily admit to randomly checking out (or "stalking" as it's jokingly reffered to) strangers on facebook - whether it be someone they met birefly and thought was cute, or an interesting friend of a friend they catch a glimpse of and suddenly want to know more.
I'm also not saying I totally agree with the way this whole thing started out - there was an intrusion of privacy, and the releasing of certain information. However, West, being a journalist, would surely have been well aware of where the line is in relation to the release private and confidential information. He would have also been aware of the risks he was taking in admitting to reading the Tran family emails - yet he did it openly and, I think, with respect, acknowledging that risk and not hiding behind a screen name or annonymous moniker. Things may not have turned out as sweet as they did, in fact they could well have got quite nasty, and props definitely should go to the Tran family for being so cool and welcoming.
I guess, while I saw the negatives in this whole thing from the get-go, I also saw a bit of what James West saw to come up with such a crazy idea. It's kinda nice that in a world where virtual and digital communication has led to less real physical contact, someone would create for themselves an opportunity to take a virtual communication into realtime, outside the realm of internet dating. As West states, there's a lot of mistrust and cynicism out there - what better way to dampen that than taking a risk on the opposing side and trusting that a hair-brained idea created on one side of the world would be met with good-will,a great time, and some new friends on the other?

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