When I opened my Yahoo! News page today, I found a list of stories including this one: "Mom Issues Terrifying Warning After Being 'Hunted' at Target: 'I Will Never Forget.'"
Many readers will never forget, either—and that is the problem. There is not a single shred of evidence that this woman was hunted by anything more than her imagination or desire for clicks.
The mom—whose real name was not provided—left the house "with several legal self-defense items, parked directly next to the store and took note of the vehicles parked nearby."
That sounds like someone pretty ready to see an ordinary Target run as quite possibly her last. And sure enough: "I had been browsing for only 10 to 15 minutes when I noticed a young gentleman," wrote the mom. "He was tall, skinny, dressed in a dirty grey two-piece sweatsuit, and brown work boots. He looked over at me, I smiled and said hello but his facial expression was blank."
Scary, right? A guy shopping and not smiling? And not using a shopping cart? My blood would run cold.
And he wasn't even the only scary man at Target! There was another guy, and then another guy "in the exact same situation."
The "situation" being shopping while male. "I had a bad feeling about these three men, and it became clear that something was a bit off," she wrote.
Mom continued to wander around the store, getting more and more distraught, and darned if she didn't keep seeing the guys doing their shopping, too. How unusual and disturbing.
"It felt as if I was being surrounded like a wild animal—hunted, even," she wrote. "They were no longer trying to be inconspicuous, which was the scariest part of it all, and everything instinctual was screaming at me to get out of there."
And this is why Yahoo! News stinks for running this story: It is contributing to that very same "instinct" that isn't instinct at all—it's a car alarm of fear that goes off when a leaf falls on the hood.
This mom (if there really was a mom; the whole story is based on something someone wrote on Reddit) went to the store already taking the precautions you might take in Kandahar if you were wearing an American army uniform: watch out for the enemy, always be alert, note your surroundings.
Unsurprisingly, she sees the enemy everywhere.
When she finally left the store—with a male employee walking her to the car, per her request, she was horrified to spot a white van. Be afraid, be very afraid. (Or better yet, don't be.)