Kids, let that be a lesson to all of you who are thinking about publishing their phone number publicly on the Internet. A 20 year old unemployed man named Ryan Fitzgerald who is still living with his father had some time at his disposal and decided to help people who needed to talk to someone by publishing his phone number on the popular video portal Youtube. He received more than 5000 calls and text messages after uploading his video on Friday saying that he would be there for everyone who wanted to contact him.
He said that he would care about them although he never met the person calling him in real life. Not only did he receive calls but he also called people back which will soon lead to a problem with his T-Mobile account. With the weekend gone he can no longer use the free weekend minutes to talk or reply to the callers leaving him in a state of worries. He said that he did not know how to react but he surely would not simply hang up saying that he could not talk to the callers anymore because of the huge bill that would surely be produced if he continued to talk to everyone.
I was not able to spot the video on Youtube but got the story from Excite News (site not available anymore). I think that his motives are good but that he simply lacks the ability to look beyond that. If he does not hang up he will amass a huge bill which he won't be able to pay because of his unemployment.
So, what could he have done instead? If he really wants to help he could have joined a crisis line in his community for instance. He would not have gained that much publicity doing so but he probably could have used his knowledge of the Internet to expand the service.
Don't get me wrong. I really respect his decision to offer help to unknown people. This is something that becomes rare in our egocentric society. It is still not a good idea to give up his own life, which he does when he does not stop the calls today), by going bankrupt.
What is your stance on the matter? Good idea? Publicity stunt? Or simply a kid who was not able to understand the consequences?
With technologies improving, other options become available. It is for instance possible to use Skype or another VOIP software instead to make or receive calls which should keep the overall bill down significantly.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.