Sherman McCoy in the Age of Twitter


Police are looking for a banged up white SUV that allegedly hit and seriously injured a Boston woman on Commonwealth Ave. Wednesday before driving off. And it looks like the officers are getting a lot of help from a social-media fueled crowdsourcing. In just the past few hours, we’ve seen variations on the same post, describing the incident and the nice-sounding victim, on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, in two threads on Reddit, and on news sites, pretty much everywhere. Here’s the post on Reddit:

This was posted by a coworker on facebook, figured it would help to get more information out to anyone in Boston.

“Trying to find any Boston folks who happened to witness this – please repost!

My friend Brenda was hit by a car on Commonwealth Ave/Kelton/Warren in Boston yesterday (Wed. 10/31) approx 4PM. She is seriously injured and is having surgery this morning. It was a white SUV and it must have a broken windshield. If anyone knows anything about the car who hit her, please contact D-14 Boston Police.”

Based on how ubiquitous this post seems to be (from our vantage point anyway), if you drive a white SUV and your windshield is broken, this is probably the time when you start sweating profusely. We’re reminded of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, a novel that describes how an unsympathetic bond trader Sherman McCoy commits a hit-and-run, and then sits and panics as the New York press demands he be found. We can only imagine how much more quickly the novel would play out if McCoy had faced the powers of social media.