"Why do people do these things?" is a question that we at Technically Incorrect try to answer every day.
Sometimes, it is in vain. But we never lose heart, as heart is all we have left.
So please join me in considering the mindset of the fine gentleman behind the Twitter account @ComfortablySmug.
Last night, as cranes were dangling, winds howling, and waters flowing in New York, Smuggins thought it witty to emit what looked like news-filled tweets that were, indeed, not so full of news.
Indeed, they were full of false information (not unlike the many hoax #Sandy photos flooding social media.)
BuzzFeed has a collection of these tweets. Sample: "Breaking: Con Edison has begun shutting down ALL power in Manhattan."
And then there was this: "Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under more than three feet of water."
There was also: "BREAKING: Governor Cuomo is trapped in Manhattan. Has been taken to a secure shelter."
I have no idea if that last one was a Dick Cheney joke, but the slight problem with these tweets is that there are a number of reporters who follow Smuggins.
As the Atlantic follows it, some of these reporters took time to verify these tweets when they could have been doing, oh, just about anything else.
Indeed, folks from NPR, Reuters, and the Daily Beast reportedly re-tweeted these missives of fear, a decision some might well rue.
Notoriety can be a multi-edged saber. For elements on Twitter were so appalled at his, um, sense of humor, that they offered him ill-feeling. BuzzFeed tracked him down by comparing veiled images on the Twitter account to their unveiled counterparts.
He is reportedly (and, of course, allegedly) Shashank Tripathi, who is spending much of his emotional energy as the campaign manager of Christopher R. Wight, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York's 12th congressional district. (We're trying to reach him to confirm his identity as well and will update if we have any luck.)
I am sure there were one or two ill-hearted souls last night who, on hearing that the flood waters were plaguing the southern parts of Manhattan, wished that the edifices of Wall Street would be swept away.
More Technically Incorrect
They will receive no reassurance, therefore, to hear that Tripathi appears to be a hedge fund analyst. Indeed, his Twitter feed links to Stone Street Advisors, which seems to advise on terribly complicated financial matters.
Stone Street Advisors appears to have offices in both New York and New Jersey.
Reporters who have pursued him since last night suggest that he has courted notoriety before and allegedly once told New York magazine that he had "asshole tendencies."
Although he curiously tweeted real news mixed in with his goading nonsense (hedging his bets, I suppose), @ComfortablySmug hasn't tweeted for the last 18 hours.
There will be those who will defend him as someone who was merely trying to be funny.
This is, of course, often the temptation when 30 or 40 of your fellow humans are dying, and many more are losing their homes, livelihoods and life savings.