Now that he's been found safe and sound, the collective holier-than-thou public mentality can begin its finger-pointing at Falcon's family.
In case you've been living in a box, Falcon Heene is the 6-year old Colorado boy who unleashed a media frenzy this afternoon after he reportedly untethered the family's weather balloon (conveniently located in the backyard) and climbed aboard. For several tense hours, the world watched and Tweeted as Falcon's whereabouts remained unknown.
Thankfully, Falcon was found unharmed, hiding in a box in the attic, behaving like a typical 6 year old boy who realized he did Something That Dad Might Not Be Real Happy About.
A typical boy. In what appears to be a somewhat untypical family.
Admit it, you made the comments while watching the balloon and listening to the news coverage.
I certainly did.
"Who the hell has a hot air balloon in their backyard?"
"Why isn't that kid in school?"
"You know that family's gotta be nuts - who names their kid Falcon?!!"
and then later on in the afternoon, when we learned that a typical family activity for the Heenes is chasing storms and looking for E.T. ("Falllllllcoooooonnnnnn .... phoooooonnnnne hoooooommmmmme.")
We as a society love our dysfunctional families. The more elements of a train wreck, the better. We're obsessed with Jon and Kate and their Eight. For some reason, Levi Johnston is still making headlines. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were all a-Twitter about the Duggars having their 20th kid (give or take a few ... I've lost count) as expectant grandparents? And let's not forget everyone's favorite Octo-mom. Even The Simpsons (a cartoon family, for goodness sakes!) aren't exempt as we debate the merits of Marge appearing on the cover of Playboy.
We love to sit in judgment in our Barcoloungers and in front of our laptops. And God help them if a family with even the slightest bit of craziness puts themselves in the spotlight, as the Heenes have apparently done via their not one but two appearances on "Wife Swap," then we feel like they are especially fair game.
Is it because we know that we have more than one skeleton in our own familial closet that we love to glom onto others? Are we well aware that by pointing our fingers at the foibles and quirks of others that perhaps we might have escaped some scrutiny of our own?
Because really, isn't that what we were all doing? What kind of parent builds weathercraft in their backyard? That's weird that they're all into science so much. And what about the extraterrestrials and UFO thing? Everyone knows "those people" are wackos.
But are they really any more dysfunctional than people who sign their kids up for sporting events that involve practice several times a week and weekend games that involve travel into the next time zone? Or moms who have their daughters in dance and cheerleading before they're fully potty-trained? Or me, who allows her daughter to check out 186 books from the library, her son to write plays, the kids to watch more Jonas Brothers than is truly healthy?
Or is the problem not really us as parents, but more of a side effect of our 24/7 constantly-on media culture, a feed-the-beast byproduct? Just a few hours after millions watched him 'round the world, we're onto the next spectacle.
Yes, there are people who are really screwing up their kids and their lives. But I want to believe - I have to believe - that the majority of us are trying to do the best that we can, even if we feel like we're making it up as we go. All we know is what we know.
Now, onto the next show.
UPDATE: It's 12:22 a.m., and within seconds after I hit "Publish Post", I read Adam Ostrow's post on Mashable and watched this video below. Hmmm. Perhaps we really are onto the next show. What do you think? A hoax? A family looking to get their own reality show? Tune in below ... and stay tuned.