Facebook: Helping find lost dogs and catch crooks since 2004

Facebook has changed our lives. Ugh, I now need one of those “Shawshank Redemption” lye baths.

As unsavory as it is to admit, some piddly website where cats are given the status of gods and videos of people twerking on the subway are given the same attention as a rainbow in a blue sky has forever altered the way you and I live, work, play and at the same time don’t live, work or play.

Facebook is the ultimate tool for both productivity and unproductivity. Basically, everything. Depressing, huh? Professor Farnsworth from “Futurama” isn’t the only one who doesn’t want to live on this planet anymore.

Sure, Facebook can sometimes be a tool of the devil. It’s used to bully, to deceive, to spy, to troll (“thou shalt not troll” should definitely be the 11th commandment).

But wait! Facebook and all of its foul tentacles of treachery can be used for good, too! Why, just this past week I have seen not one, but two instances of the world’s greatest musical-taste forum and bathroom photography museum was implemented to unite its users in the search for truth, justice, and a lost dog.

Two betrothed friends of mine lost their beloved dog, Maltose (which Google informs me is not only the name of a cute white doggie, but a kind of sugar). They were understandably distraught, and took to Facebook to post pictures of Maltose and reports of where he had been seen. Quickly, a mini-Maltose search team had been assembled, and people were scouring the Boardman Park area for him, even those who did not live nearby. Friends shared photos of Maltose, and more sightings came to light. Facebook was used to advertise when people were meeting to go looking, and to check with local animal groups.

While Maltose is still on the loose as of this writing, my friends are happy to know he has at least been sighted, and that it is only a matter of time before they or a helpful Facebook friend reunites them. So, if you’re in Boardman and you see a cream-colored dog with long ears, try and grab him, and let me know. I’ll get the word to his people.

Another set of Facebook sleuths was on the job last week. Some friends of mine had recently had their cars vandalized while parked in the deck behind their apartment building. Tires slashed, windows smashed, all without much apparent motive other than wanton jerkery. Unbeknownst to the aforementioned jerks, the deck was being filmed by surveillance cameras, which captured the vandals in the act.

Stills from the video were posted to Facebook, urging whoever recognized the culprits to immediately tar and feather them, or to call the victims and / or police if they were running low on tar and feathers. The photos were posted up and down everyone’s Facebook wall, and made their way to the TV news. Bingo, bango, the vandals were caught mere days later, after they foolishly returned to the scene of the crime less than an hour after they were shown on TV. Kudos, vandalism sleuth crew.

So, Facebook isn’t just used to belittle others’ political beliefs. It can be used for more than making people feel ashamed to like “Twilight,” or harassing Browns or Steelers fans. In between the smarm and the passive aggression sometimes lies a nobler purpose. The spaghetti dinners, the viral memes about helping the disadvantaged, the volunteers, the information. Yes, the whole “Like if you don’t want disease to kill everyone you love and punch kittens in the face” stuff is a bit schmaltzy and really doesn’t help fight disease, but if something you see on Facebook makes you do good for others, then it’s worth putting up with.

Sometimes, I guess I do want to live on this planet.

Has Facebook ever got you to help a good cause? Share your stories at ssepanek@tribtoday.com, or comment on this story at www.tribtoday.com.