The Land of Mass Hysteria

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As I kick off this 34th week of The Renegade Coder, I want to revisit something I chatted quite a bit about last week. If you don’t recall, there was a human trafficking scare in Erie that sparked absolute mass hysteria. Just to put it into perspective, the original post got almost 24,000 shares in a city of almost 100,000 people. Could you imagine if a quarter of your city got this freaked out about anything? Let’s talk about it.

Table of Contents

Nothing But a Hoax

I have some great news! As it turns out, the story of human trafficking in Erie appears to be a hoax. But, I still want to talk about it.

No Evidence Found

Last Wednesday, GoErie finally followed up on the issue with the following post:

Of course, in case this post is taken down, here’s the article. Basically, the cops investigated the three reports and determined that each story was nothing more than harassment. They couldn’t find anything on the security tapes that followed the claims. In other words, the stories are likely bullshit.

However, the reports could be true to some extent. I don’t doubt that these women were harassed. The problem arises when people start reporting harassment as something much worse, human trafficking in this case. The entire city of Erie basically shut down because someone was being paranoid. Maybe we should take a mental health census in the area.

The other part that kills me is the reaction of most people who fell for it: “Y’ALL BETTER GET A GUN.” Due to these dishonest stories, we now have an overwhelming number of idiots trying to get their concealed carry permits. America has some serious cultural issues.

Fire up the Conspiracies

As soon as I went to bask in the glory of being correct, I got hit in the face by the regressive left’s antics. In other words, I was called out for being a bigot because I was apparently belittling these girls who were harassed. I guess pointing out sensationalism gets you in trouble with social justice warriors, and I even consider myself left-leaning. The regressive left is killing the progressive movement. Just take a look:

All that said, I don’t condone harassment. However, I also don’t condone “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” It’s ridiculous that I’m getting my words turned on me as if I was the one doing the harassment. In fact, someone called me out simply because I don’t live in Erie anymore. How is that relevant? Do I not have family and friends who were likely affected by the bullshit spread on social media? Grow up.

Regardless, I do find it interesting how quickly people swore off actual cops to side with three random girls on Facebook. There were conspiracy nuts everywhere acting like there was a good chance trafficking could still be happening despite the complete lack of evidence. We live in 2017. It’s quite a bit harder to get away with these types of crimes nowadays. Just think about how many selfies you’re probably caught in a day. You can’t get away with anything in a crowded place.

So I have to ask, how much money do you think local businesses lost due to mass hysteria? It reminds me of the clown panic of 2016. Meanwhile, how many tax dollars do you think the police wasted on the investigation? How many people do you think went out to get their concealed carry permits? Just curious.

A New Wave of Bullshit

With the three reports amounting to nothing more than harassment, I had hoped the train of bullshit would have left the station. Unfortunately, that’s just not what happened.

Now, we have a crew of people trying to grasp at straws for evidence of trafficking still in the area. The latest trend now points toward a set of signs around town that basically just read:


$17.25 base appt.

Text for Info


Apparently, because there’s no name, we’re supposed to assume this is human trafficking. Personally, I’d tend to believe these were made by some dolt just looking for some extra help. I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that these signs were crafted by some trafficking ring, but who am I to judge?

That’s why I immediately tried to find absolutely any shred of evidence that these signs could be a front for trafficking. So, I started by following the link referenced by many as undeniable proof that these signs lead to human trafficking. Do yourself a favor and read that article. It’s hilarious.

After a brief read, I started by trying to verify the facts listed in the video. For instance, the article claims the NHTC ranks these types of signs as high risk. The beauty of this claim is that I couldn’t even find an agency called the NHTC. It flat out doesn’t exist. The NHTH exists, so I went under the assumption that it was just a typo. However, I still couldn’t verify the claims.

I could go on, but I’m calling this bullshit for now. It seems to be another form of sensationalism that adults who are out of touch with reality spread like wildfire. I imagine someone is making good money on ad revenue. Snopes seems to think so.


As a part of this series, I wanted to share the actual stories, so you can judge for yourselves. Much like broken links, posts can be removed, so I wanted to make sure the actual stories stay somewhat immortalized.

You can look back at some of my comments in the last article.

Christiana’s Tale of Human Trafficking

Do NOT go to Millcreek mall by yourself! There is something going on there and it’s not safe. I was there tonight with 2 friends. I went to Victoria’s secrets and my friends went to another store. I had a sense of uneasiness as I was in the store as if I was being watched. I texted my friends to meet me immediately because my gut was telling me something was off. I made my purchase and proceeded to walk into American eagle where a man approached me. He was just watching me at first but then proceeded to approach and speak. (I’m always aware of my surroundings) He said hello and asked me what my name was, I felt very uncomfortable and didn’t like the vibe he was giving off. So I said “oh hi, have a good night”. This same man was in Victoria’s secrets. He was dressed in dark clothing and was heavy set. I immediately started waking out of the store and calling my friend. As I exited the store another man joined him also dressed in very dark clothing and had a hat on. They started screaming at me, “Yo miss, hey you, stop ignoring me” I made a bee line to boscovs where my friends were running to meet me. As I entered the store I seen my friend and dragged her behind a tall clothes rack and ducked down. I explained what was happening and that those men were strangers I do not know and people don’t just follow you screaming at you for a name and a phone number. I had a feeling something more cynical was happening and i told her we need to get out of here now. My friend said omg they’re in here and they proceeded to follow us. I ran straight to the nearest cashier and pleaded for her help to call security. She took it as a joke and told me to go to the courtesy desk. At this point there was a group of men now following us. I ran to the jewelry desk because we were practically surrounded. And I interrupted a transaction. I was completely terrified at this point and I can easily defend myself in almost any situation. But this was different. The lady called security immediately. Once the men realized that she was on the phone with security they walked slowly out of boscovs staring at us. They proceeded to stand outside the entrance for awhile until security came. We were safely escorted to the car. The point is that I shop by myself a lot. A lot of my friends do too and those men were not interested in my name nor my phone number or trying to make a play because no older group of men are going to follow you to multiple stores not making any purchases and after they’ve been ignored…. Human trafficking is HUGE in Erie. Always be aware of your surroundings. I was being watched and was approached when I was alone and there would’ve been no way for me to defend myself against a group of them. Also, when someone comes up to you in a frantic panic believe them because tonight could’ve turned out very differently.

Carly’s Tale of Parking Horror





Yo that girl who posted that on Facebook about them dudes following her in Victoria’s Secret in the mall, that was not a joke!!! I just walked out to babies R us with all three of my kids and these older dudes in a black car we’re trying to get my attention and would not leave me alone when I was ignoring them so I finally turned around and said yeah and they asked me if I had a man to take care of my kids. I said yeah I got a whole man and he said come here and I got in MY car. They sat behind my car trying to make it so I couldn’t pull back but the car in front of me left so I drove away. I’m dead serious everyone don’t be going out shopping alone especially with your kid these people out here are nuts.

Alyssa’s Tale of Kidnapping

Everyone PLEASE be careful on peach street in Erie. There was an attempted kidnapping at McDonald’s on peach street. It is believed to be by those same people all over the news. Please always be aware of your surroundings and keep your kids close!

Edit* Since everyone seems to be thinking that I would just make this up, I am not sure why this hasn’t been on anything, but I know authorities are searching for these men that re scaring us all. This is such a scary thing to be happening in our small town and I would never make anything up for the fun of it, especially about such a serious topic! Stay safe and keep your loved ones close!

The Police Report Courtesy of GoErie

State and Millcreek Township police said they have failed to find any evidence to support rumors flying around social media about possible abductions and human trafficking along the Peach Street shopping district.


“There were no attempted abductions and we are not aware of any human trafficking that is going on,” Mook said. “What I can tell you is the FBI occasionally does investigations into human trafficking and we are not aware of any open investigations at the Millcreek Mall.”


“Our officers looked into surveillance footage at the mall and were unable to gather any further evidence relating to the claims by the citizens, so the cases have not been able to proceed forward with any sort of charges. But all three involved summary harassment at the worst. There was, again, no attempted abduction and no human trafficking,” he said.

Backing Away from Social Media

All the panic and mass hysteria occurring in Erie reminded me of my social media cleanse a few weeks back. I was growing irritated with the way people think (or rather don’t think) back home, so I decided to start trashing friends. By the time I was done, I think I dropped about 500 or so friends. Now, I’m tempted to just quit Facebook altogether. Listening to people have outrageous arguments with no basis in fact starts to wear down on you. It’s worse when it’s people you know since you figure they ought to know better.

Obviously, I’ve been interested in minimalism for awhile, but I’m thinking this is going to extend to social media. I can’t stand the way tools like Facebook tend to build up echo chambers of ignorance. It’s like the townies you grew up with who never left a 20 mile radius, but now they have internet. So, you get to see their racist rants and angry politics on loop every day.

When I started writing this article, I stumbled upon a couple Reddit threads that basically sum up my feelings for my hometown: what do you hate most about your hometown and what’s the worst thing about small towns. I love the place, but the people need to get out of there. I’m not even trying to speak from a place of privilege or entitlement. It’s like a giant bubble of insane views just circulating and festering. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably never left your small town. That, or you’ve just never grown up in one. Weird stuff happens in small towns. I’ll give you a couple examples.

Choose Your Weapon

When I was in high school, I knew this kid who broke the news to his parents that he was going to lose his virginity to the girl he was dating. In addition to giving him some sex education, the parents ended up taking him to the store to get condoms. Once they got to the condom section, the father said “choose your weapon.” Funny or not, that’s quite the creepy comment to be hearing from your dad.

I think most protective parents would scold their child in this scenario. Personally, I don’t think that’s the right move, but it just seems slightly more acceptable than the way these parents handled it. The loss of virginity is not some sort of incestuous bond between father and son. Make sure the kid understands the risks and get on with your day.

To some, this story probably doesn’t seem that weird, but it always sort of bothered me. Families in small towns seem to be able to act in any way they want without any sort of repercussions. Forms of abuse seem tolerated in small towns because everyone is a little kooky.

Never Grow Up

There’s a family in town that owns a small business. At some point in their history, some horrific event happened to them. It may be related to a shooting that happened at a local middle school dance. I don’t actually remember. Regardless, whatever happened caused the parents to become extremely protective. In fact, they have a daughter who is well into her thirties, but she’s still under tight control of her parents. For example, I don’t even think she’s ever had a partner. Instead, she’s sort of been stuck in my hometown living a closeted life.

I find this story to be another great example of the freedom that families have in small towns. In no way would this be acceptable behavior in a larger city, but in a small town it’s totally ignored.

Thirteenth Grade

I was unfortunate enough to live in a small town that also had a college. Most people might find this great as a nearby college allows kids to save money by living with their families. However, that’s precisely the problem. Almost everyone I went to high school with went to this college, and a good portion of them stayed home. As a result, you end up with a large group of people who carry along their same prejudices and value systems all the way through college. Why not? It’s an echo chamber.

As you can imagine, I have a strong disdain for most of the people who stuck around. The people I do like stuck around mostly out of necessity. That said, I do feel pretty bad for them.

The rest of them are idiots. I don’t really have to give any examples of their ignorance. I think I shared plenty on my social media cleanse article as well as above.

Overbearing Parents

Another thing that I find to be a small town only type of problem is overbearing parents. I have plenty examples of this, but I think the most horrendous was one of the soccer moms. As a brief aside, I’ll just say that I used to play soccer quite a bit. I didn’t take it as seriously in high school, but I did play my senior year.

Anyways, one of the moms was absolutely ridiculous. She used to show up to our practices and meetings to give each of us a shakedown. In other words, she would basically interrogate us about every little thing. Did you eat breakfast/lunch/dinner? Did you make it to church? Etc.

I found this really bizarre. Maybe it’s because my parents forced me to be independent, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. It was almost like she thought that she was the best parent in town, and each question was just a way for her to judge our parents. Needless to say, I didn’t care for that woman, but everyone else seemed to be okay with her objections.

Abuse, Neglect, and Control

Along a similar thread as the rest of my complaints, small towns seem to breed weird family behavior. I can’t really go into too much more detail, but I will say that I know people who left who are still affected by their crazy families. The brainwashing is so strong in small towns that it can be hard to find an ally with an outsiders perspective. I think that’s why most of my friends are from college and work. I just couldn’t shake some of these people of their indoctrination.

So, you probably get the idea by now. I think I need to step back from social media a bit. These townies are killing my vibe.

Navigation Issues

For now, that’s all I want to talk about on that subject. Let’s move on to the site a bit.

As you may have noticed, the navigation links at the bottom of my series posts seem to have magically disappeared. I assumed it was a bug with the new theme update, but the navigation totally shows up on my new Python series. Over the next week, I plan to investigate a bit. Maybe I can figure out what’s going on there.

I think the issue is linked to the SiteOrigins plugin. I removed it from the latest data structures article and the navigation reappeared. However, if that’s the case, my introduction to Java series will need to be updated by hand.

Song of the Week

Finally, let’s check out the song of the week! This week I’m actually going to share a series of songs that made up 2017. Thanks YouTube:

As for the weekly link that you can use to support me, I’ll share Despacito.

Coming Soon to The Renegade Coder!

For once, I actually have some plans. Before the weekend, I plan on releasing an article about my proposal finally. Since the article is basically written already, I need to make sure I get all the pictures together. You can expect that article before the weekend.

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