Seven months later, my Hopkin Explained post is still generating interest and links from large collaborative sites. Every other month, on average, someone links to it from a high-traffic link-collector, and I get another day of several thousand site visits to the page. Just today, MetaFilter, a site in which I actively participate, linked to this page – again. A commenter there chucklingly suggested I should link to the thread, and so I have.
Another commenter in the MeFi thread is curious about a link in a comment posted here after the initial publication. In that link, citizenkafka recounts calling Terry’s mom about two weeks before I did, and mentions a) Terry’s mom knew about lostfrog.org and b) that Terry has a new frog. These recollections appear to contradict things in my initial post which Terry’s dad told me. I don’t necessarily see them as contradictions.
I did not speak to Terry’s mom, but to his dad. The family is of an ethnicity that often emphasizes patriarchy and the adults clearly speak English as a second language. I didn’t want to step on toes by grilling Mom or Sis or Granny.
Terry’s dad told me what I recount – he was unaware of the web’s interest, and so was Terry, and that was a good thing as far as he was concerned. I specifically asked if other people had been calling, and he indicated that no-one had.
However, not mentioned in the thread comments is yet another story of someone calling Terry’s family. In this story, a forum participant (possibly affiliated with the very first site to post the image) called and spoke with Terry’s sister. I can’t recall the details of that interaction, but the poster noted that he was encouraged not to locate and give a new frog to Terry.
Finally, Terry’s dad did tell me that he has a new frog. Although I don’t recall this explicitly, I believe I must have asked if the frog was called Hopkins. Terry’s dad emphasized that the frog was different. I was surprised to note that I had not included this detail in the original post, presumably a result of having determined that the new frog was not Hopkin.
I believe that in all probability the other members of the family just never mentioned the calls regarding the appearance of the flyer on the web – remember that Terry was actively posting these flyers for at least six months, and that they included a phone number. Others must have called before the web got hold of it.
So in my mind, the different narratives associated with Terry’s family boil down to internally consistent perspectives, despite the apparent contradictions. It’s possible, of course, that Terry’s dad actually was aware of the internet hubbub but chose to deny it in order to keep our conversation brief. Of course, over time it becomes more likely that the family will become aware of it, as well.