21 votes

You are horrible people

25 comments

  1. [9]
    Sahasrahla (edited ) Link
    This terrible, sanctimonious, thoughtless article has been making the rounds recently on the various Canadian subreddits and it would be disappointing to see its ideas get any traction here. (NB:...

    This terrible, sanctimonious, thoughtless article has been making the rounds recently on the various Canadian subreddits and it would be disappointing to see its ideas get any traction here. (NB: nothing against OP, we can share articles for a variety of reasons.) Very few people are actually complaining about the idea of amber alerts themselves, the concern is how poorly it was implemented in this case:

    1. The alert went out across too wide an area (apparently mistakenly?) across Ontario and Manitoba. People were getting the alert in Winnipeg. That would be like a child going missing in London and every resident of Stockholm being woken up for an immediate message about it.
    2. The alert went out not as an "amber alert" but as a "presidential alert" which ignored do-not-disturb settings and played an extremely loud klaxon more suitable for immediate personal danger. This alert level cannot be turned off without technical know-how beyond most people's capabilities.
    3. Multiple mistaken alerts were sent out. People were reporting the alert going off the next day after the amber alert had been cancelled.
    4. The message cancelling the alert was also sent as a top-level "presidential" alert which, again, cannot be opted out of and which plays a loud warning sound more appropriate for immediate personal danger.
    5. The alert disturbed the sleep of millions of people. It's well known that the hour of sleep lost for daylight savings causes an increase in traffic accidents the next day, so mass sleep disturbance is literally a life-and-death issue and not the "oh you're grumpy you lost some sleep suck it up" issue that it's being made out as.
    6. Most people were in a position where they had absolutely zero chance of being able to help (asleep in bed, thousands of kilometers away, or both) and this creates a "boy who cried wolf" type scenario (expanded on in @patience_limited's comment). How many people will find a way to disable these alerts or otherwise ignore them if they become more common? This is a public safety issue as this alert level is meant to warn people about risks to their safety which require immediate action.

    In total, I've been very disappointed in how this discussion has gone in most online spaces. Far too many people have decided they're on the side of protecting children and are therefore correct, moral, and righteous without having to even think about their position or the critiques of how this system was used. I really hope that Tildes can be better than that.

    Edit: Another thought on sleep loss. How many doctors who were performing surgery the next day were woken up multiple times by these messages? For some critical personnel being well rested is imperative for public safety.

    51 votes
    1. [4]
      The_Blackthorn Link Parent
      For what it's worth, I just posted it because I thought it might generate some more nuanced discussion in a more place like tildes. I place myself in the gray area in the middle with this issue. I...

      This terrible, sanctimonious, thoughtless article has been making the rounds recently on the various Canadian subreddits and it would be disappointing to see its ideas get any traction here. (NB: nothing against OP, we can share articles for a variety of reasons.)

      For what it's worth, I just posted it because I thought it might generate some more nuanced discussion in a more place like tildes.

      I place myself in the gray area in the middle with this issue. I think we can probably both agree, calling 911 to complain about the alert is inappropriate. That said, like you said yourself, I'm not sold on the forced "presidential alert" as being the best carrier of this information. That kind of alert should really only be used for immediate threats to the life of the citizenry and used as rarely as those events happen.

      Most people were in a position where they had absolutely zero chance of being able to help

      I think it should be noted that a tip from someone who received the alert directly led to the capture of the father.

      14 votes
      1. [3]
        Sahasrahla Link Parent
        Yeah, I definitely want to make clear my criticisms of the article were not a criticism of you. Posting an article isn't an endorsement after all and good discussion can be had from any source....

        For what it's worth, I just posted it because I thought it might generate some more nuanced discussion in a more place like tildes.

        Yeah, I definitely want to make clear my criticisms of the article were not a criticism of you. Posting an article isn't an endorsement after all and good discussion can be had from any source.

        I think it should be noted a tip from someone who received the alert directly led to the capture of the father.

        Sure, which is why people are generally in favour of amber alert systems. The issue isn't amber alerts themselves but rather how it was used in this case and the risks that come with misuse.

        18 votes
        1. [2]
          cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
          Not for everyone. While you and @patience_limited have expressed a much more nuanced and valid criticism of the system and this particular case, which I even largely agree with, there was also...

          The issue isn't amber alerts themselves but rather how it was used in this case and the risks that come with misuse.

          Not for everyone. While you and @patience_limited have expressed a much more nuanced and valid criticism of the system and this particular case, which I even largely agree with, there was also (and still is) actually a fair amount of purely selfish whining about the inconvenience of it going on as well... which is what this author seems to be entirely focused on.

          Now, I would make the argument that an article like this which chooses to focus on the whining and none of the valid criticism doesn't do any of us any favors, since the outrage against the whining then overshadows everything else and makes legitimate criticism harder to speak without being lumped in with the whiners... but I also think it's wrong to try and pretend there were absolutely no people who were whinging and being "horrible", because there absolutely was and still is people doing exactly that.

          7 votes
          1. patience_limited Link Parent
            Yes, there were abusive people who seemed to forget that a child's life was at stake. Yet, as @sarasrahla pointed out, there were some legitimate reasons to whine. I'm going to put on the public...

            Yes, there were abusive people who seemed to forget that a child's life was at stake. Yet, as @sarasrahla pointed out, there were some legitimate reasons to whine.

            I'm going to put on the public health hat here for a minute, and look at the alerting system.

            In any intervention, the basic questions that need to be answered are: is it effective; and do the benefits outweigh the risks.

            There is evidence that AMBER Alerts are not effective for saving children in life-threatening circumstances.

            As to benefits and risks, @sarasrahla mentioned some of the potential harms, but there's an unmentioned risk that a dangerous or violent abductor might be provoked by notoriety or public manhunt pressures.

            I'd really like to know what can be done to save kids, but articles like this are the opposite of helpful. Reading Quackery today, I'm reminded of the dangers of the "something must be done, well, this is something" mindset. We're talking about social pressure to shame millions of people for failing to participate in an unproven and potentially harmful series of prescribed actions to prevent a dire, but rare occurrence.

            6 votes
    2. [2]
      gyrozeppeli Link Parent
      To comment on your "boy crying wolf" point. Korea's government sends out way too many alerts, at least for the Seoul metropolitan area. In the past month I've received at least ~6 alerts. 4 of...

      To comment on your "boy crying wolf" point.

      Korea's government sends out way too many alerts, at least for the Seoul metropolitan area. In the past month I've received at least ~6 alerts.

      • 4 of them were for high levels of fine dust in the air
      • 1 was about telling people to not touch livestock on vacation (this was right before lunar new year holiday)
      • the last one I didn't even bother to translate into English, none of the people around me changed facial expressions when they looked at it.

      These would be fine, if annoying, if only they didn't have that stupid, urgent-sounding alarm noise.

      In 2017 during the (quite hot) summer, I received about 3-4 alerts in ~2 weeks reminding me to stay hydrated and not to stay outside in the sun too long to avoid heatstroke. This was not in the Seoul metropolitan area.

      I left from Jan 2018–Jan 2019, yet I want to say that the situation has slightly improved, but it's still not great.

      8 votes
      1. SourceContribute Link Parent
        It's turned into Windows Vista UAC (User Access Controls) all over again, or Android permissions. Zero nuance so you just blast the alert or pop up the box and say "click here to make me go away"...

        It's turned into Windows Vista UAC (User Access Controls) all over again, or Android permissions. Zero nuance so you just blast the alert or pop up the box and say "click here to make me go away" with zero regard for the importance of the message.

        5 votes
    3. Octofox Link Parent
      Excellent comment. I just had a look on my phone and its actually fairly simple to disable these alerts on android. It was just under settings -> apps and notifications -> advanced -> emergency...

      Excellent comment.

      I just had a look on my phone and its actually fairly simple to disable these alerts on android. It was just under settings -> apps and notifications -> advanced -> emergency alerts

      If these alerts were abused I would turn them off but I think they are super important to alert you if there is a bush fire or something that requires you to wake up now and act.

    4. satan Link Parent
      I completely agree. This is an awful article.

      I completely agree. This is an awful article.

      1 vote
  2. [4]
    patience_limited Link
    No. Just no. This is a terrible tragedy, but one of the worst features of a highly-connected world is that we're all expected to be responsible and involved in each others lives, without respect...

    No. Just no. This is a terrible tragedy, but one of the worst features of a highly-connected world is that we're all expected to be responsible and involved in each others lives, without respect for geography, 24/7/365.

    There's research on the psychological pertinence of alerts that dates back to the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, and the design of its indicator and alarm systems. The crisis arose in part because the operators were so bombarded with sounds and blinking lights for every event that they were no longer capable of distinguishing critical excursions.

    I will not engage in collective blame for people who are so thoroughly exhausted by constant awareness of emergencies thousands of miles away, that they want respite from yet another alert for an event that happens to be in their own neighborhoods.

    And in this instance, was it really in their own backyards? Ontario is geographically enormous [1,076,395 km2], and a third of the population of Canada lives there.

    In what possible circumstance can they be held collectively responsible to wake up and provide assistance in a completely unknown situation, with no training, and the sketchy information usually provided by an Amber Alert?

    28 votes
    1. [2]
      Heichou Link Parent
      I think the article/writer is more angry at the citizens who actively complained and pseudo-campaigned against having the alert system. The author doesn't expect people to get up and look, they...

      I think the article/writer is more angry at the citizens who actively complained and pseudo-campaigned against having the alert system. The author doesn't expect people to get up and look, they expect people to not whine and throw a fit when someone else's horrible tragedy inconveniences them slightly, to the point that they complain online or actually call 911 to complain. They're not asking for unconditional cooperation, they're asking for people to have some sympathy for someone who lost their whole world. Instead, they grumble out of bed, check their phone, and tell themselves that they've been terribly inconvenienced.

      18 votes
      1. SourceContribute Link Parent
        Yep it sounded like that to me too. I have heard zero complaints from friends and family about the alert system. No matter how annoyed people are, they keep it to themselves because a person's...

        I think the article/writer is more angry at the citizens who actively complained and pseudo-campaigned against having the alert system.

        Yep it sounded like that to me too. I have heard zero complaints from friends and family about the alert system. No matter how annoyed people are, they keep it to themselves because a person's life was involved.

        2 votes
    2. SourceContribute Link Parent
      This is an issue for software developers and business people as well with dashboards. It's great to have a bunch of charts and graphs to help solve specific problems, but when you have a bunch of...

      The crisis arose in part because the operators were so bombarded with sounds and blinking lights for every event that they were no longer capable of distinguishing critical excursions.

      This is an issue for software developers and business people as well with dashboards. It's great to have a bunch of charts and graphs to help solve specific problems, but when you have a bunch of them and a bunch of alerts that are triggered, they start to become less signal and more noise.

  3. [7]
    alyaza Link
    call it crazy, but i do suspect people would be singing a different tune if it was their child that was involved in an amber alert. it's wild how entitled people sometimes are about these sorts of...

    Others complained bitterly: “We do not work for [the police],” one man wrote. Some even called 911, not to provide tips, but to criticize the alert.

    call it crazy, but i do suspect people would be singing a different tune if it was their child that was involved in an amber alert. it's wild how entitled people sometimes are about these sorts of things.

    11 votes
    1. [6]
      satan Link Parent
      We could play that game all day but it wasn't their child.

      We could play that game all day but it wasn't their child.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        But that's exactly @alyaza's point. These people were alerted about a missing child that wasn't their child - so they felt entitled to say it was annoying, and not their responsibility, and so on....

        But that's exactly @alyaza's point. These people were alerted about a missing child that wasn't their child - so they felt entitled to say it was annoying, and not their responsibility, and so on. But, what if it had been their child who was missing? Wouldn't they have wanted all possible resources directed toward finding their child? Wouldn't they have wanted all possible actions taken to find their child? Of course they would have - as did the mother of this missing girl.

        So, why can't these people show a bit of empathy for a parent whose child went missing? Why can't they put themselves in that mother's shoes? Why are they so uncaring about a mother's concern and a little girl's danger?

        9 votes
        1. [4]
          gyrozeppeli (edited ) Link Parent
          No. I would want reasonable, intelligent actions taken, not every single action and every single person in the world personally pinged. I'm certain that apt law enforcement and other resources...

          Wouldn't they have wanted all possible resources directed toward finding their child?

          No. I would want reasonable, intelligent actions taken, not every single action and every single person in the world personally pinged. I'm certain that apt law enforcement and other resources were already being put to use. I wouldn't want people in Florida to receive alerts if I lost a child in California, unless there was reasonable evidence that the kidnapper went to Florida or something. Otherwise, what are people thousands of km away going to do? You're trying to spin it as an empathy (emotional) issue but the reality is that the alerts here were handled very poorly and overreached. The only thing that would happen for sure is people would just start to ignore alerts, making it even worse.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
            By the time the Amber Alert was issued, the girl's father had had custody of her for nearly 8 hours, and was in possession of a car. At a conservative estimated driving speed of 60km/h, that means...

            Here is the timeline of the tragic events.

            Thursday, 3 pm: Riya was dropped off at a Mississauga gas station so Roopesh could take her out to celebrate her birthday.
            Thursday, 6:30 pm: Her mother reported her missing to police after she says Riya failed to return at the agreed pick up time and police say she received a threat from the father indicating he might cause harm to himself and to Riya.
            Thursday, just before 11 pm: An Amber Alert was issued, hours after police began searching for Riya and Roopesh.

            By the time the Amber Alert was issued, the girl's father had had custody of her for nearly 8 hours, and was in possession of a car. At a conservative estimated driving speed of 60km/h, that means the girl could have been about 480km away from Brampton (possibly further if he got onto a highway and hit 100km/h).

            That's not equivalent to the distance from California to Florida, but it's far enough to have gotten from the suburbs of Toronto to at least Ottawa, and even across the provincial border to Quebec in the east (but not as far as Manitoba to the west). It would therefore be reasonable to include most of Ontario in the alert, and even the south-western section of Quebec (but not Manitoba). An inter-province Amber Alert is not overreach in this situation (although it appears the wrong neighbouring province was included).


            You're trying to spin it as an empathy (emotional) issue

            Well, the whole issue is that people are responding emotionally to the Amber Alert they received: "How dare you bother our sleep to ask us to help find a missing girl! Don't do that! It's annoying!"

            5 votes
            1. [2]
              gyrozeppeli Link Parent
              That’s what I’m saying, it’s not unreasonable for the people erroneously alerted (in places that it wouldn’t make sense to alert given the logistics) to have complaints.

              That’s what I’m saying, it’s not unreasonable for the people erroneously alerted (in places that it wouldn’t make sense to alert given the logistics) to have complaints.

              1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                I concede the point for residents of Maritoba. They should not have been included in this Amber Alert. However, anyone living in Southern Ontario was correctly alerted. And the alert should also...

                I concede the point for residents of Maritoba. They should not have been included in this Amber Alert.

                However, anyone living in Southern Ontario was correctly alerted. And the alert should also have included some neighbouring areas of Quebec.

                2 votes
  4. [5]
    thejumpingbulldog Link
    Honestly, it's really interesting to hear both points from just reading the comments. It honestly seems that both sides are right in some areas, as a massive alert that woke people thousands of...

    Honestly, it's really interesting to hear both points from just reading the comments. It honestly seems that both sides are right in some areas, as a massive alert that woke people thousands of miles away from the crime does seem unnecessary, and yet this for the life of a child, which is supremely important.

    @patience-limited definitely was right about how the bombardment of notifications can make people less sensitive towards everything, but I'm not sure if tuning out stuff like this is the right way. In fact, it seems that this should be one of those things that we should have notifications for, and not whether our friend-from-middle-school's, ex-girlfriend's, dad's, brother had a sandwich for breakfast. As it seems generally that people aren't complaining about the hundred messages they get from instragram, reddit, or facebook everyday.

    I guess I just think we have it inverted. Yeah, I totally agree we need less pings, alerts, and notifications, but maybe we should tone down notifications for our social media usage and all the other bullshit stuff we focus so heavily on these days, instead of the more important stuff like the life of a child, and while I'll contend that sending a notification like this to people thousands of miles away is a little excessive, I also think the better to be safe than risk that man getting away with the life of a child.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      Sahasrahla Link Parent
      A bit off topic from what you were saying, but this brings up an interesting point in all of this that I was thinking about. Many of the arguments about this are along the lines of: a child's life...

      instead of the more important stuff like the life of a child

      A bit off topic from what you were saying, but this brings up an interesting point in all of this that I was thinking about. Many of the arguments about this are along the lines of: a child's life is in danger, and how can anything be more important than that? And it's a good argument in that, really, how can anything be more important than an innocent life that we have the power to protect?

      The implication, of course, is that there really can be no discussion or argument because a child's life trumps everything else—especially any trivial concerns about our own lives being inconvenienced. But I think that argument is hypocritical. Most of us, by our actions every day, are effectively ignoring untold amounts of suffering we could work to lessen including the death of innocent children.

      How many lives could I personally save by donating just a bit more to the right charities? Things are generally better in the world now in many respects than at any other time in history but there is still hunger, disease, war, and disaster and I have some resources that I could contribute to fighting those scourges. I can't make a large scale impact but surely I could make a real and meaningful difference in a few lives. What if I never ate out or saw a movie, what if I cancelled my Netflix subscription, what if I sold everything I don't absolutely need? What if the most moral thing I could do would be to work 16 hour days building up a high paying career while living the life of an ascetic so I could donate the maximum amount possible to charities that do good in the world?

      Of course this is all a bit ridiculous, no one would expect that of themselves or others, but where do we draw the line? When do we say that, actually, me buying this package of muffins I don't need is more important than me donating $5 towards saving a sick or starving child? When do we put limits on our own empathy to protect ourselves in an interconnected world with practically limitless suffering we could concern ourselves with?

      To bring this back around to the topic at hand, yes, amber alerts are important and useful and well-implemented alerts are a good thing we should support as a society. But, the argument of "how can anything be more important than a child's life?" is far more complex than it's been made out to be in these discussions.

      10 votes
      1. Tygrak Link Parent
        Also, getting woken up by an alert could actually change peoples lives. And I think this comes down to basically the trolley problem. Would you rather save a child and let a lot of people have a...

        Also, getting woken up by an alert could actually change peoples lives. And I think this comes down to basically the trolley problem. Would you rather save a child and let a lot of people have a worse day or the other way around?

        Of course if it would be my child I wouldn't even think about the answer. But that's what makes it so interesting. Because the right answer probably is to just "sacrifice" the child for the greater good, just like the trolley problem.

        6 votes
      2. [2]
        thejumpingbulldog Link Parent
        Honestly, that's a really good point. I don't know where that line of inconvenience and excessive self-sacrifice should be, nor would I want to be the person who would have to decide it. I can...

        Honestly, that's a really good point. I don't know where that line of inconvenience and excessive self-sacrifice should be, nor would I want to be the person who would have to decide it. I can totally see your point because in then end I could probably be faulted too for not giving enough. I guess just doing enough to feel good or okay when I go to bed at night is my goal, and that even brings up a debate because that is variable. My definition of doing enough may be too little or too much to others, or not enough in one area.

        As @Tygrak was saying it does seem like a real life example of the trolley problem, and maybe that's all we can gain from this. A question to just ask ourselves of what we would do in that situation and what feels right to us. I do appreciate the point you raised though, and the honest and real debate going on here. Honestly just coming here from reddit has already felt like such a real place with real discussion and people. Have a nice day. :)

        4 votes
        1. Sahasrahla Link Parent
          We're happy to have you and I hope you enjoy the discussions here. :)

          Honestly just coming here from reddit has already felt like such a real place with real discussion and people. Have a nice day. :)

          We're happy to have you and I hope you enjoy the discussions here. :)

          3 votes