Last week, a friend who lives in Kuala Lampur posted a disturbing Facebook entry. Her neighbor, Nayati Moodliar, a small boy of 12, was pulled into a car by two men on his walk to school. The kidnapping spurred an international social media campaign and mobilized the community. Instead of going to work or school, families living in the community spent 24/7 shifts manning phones and spreading word of the incident through social media. Nayati's parents used Facebook to post pictures with a plea to send a 'virtual hug' that Nayati would be found. His father went to Twitter to say, “To the captors, you may be captors too. So I pray for your release. That U may find the compassion to set Nayati free”. Nayati's schoolmates placed videos on YouTube, appealing for his safe return and urging the public to spread the word via their social networks.
Amazingly, after six tense days and a viral social media campaign to help find him, Nayati was found unharmed. His overjoyed father was quoted as saying, "This entire week has not only been a story of Nayati's kidnap. It has been a story of compassion, courage and love which highlighted the goodness inherent in everyone".
Indeed the story of Nayati Moodliar’s kidnapping was not only that of his disappearance – but also of how his family and community used social media to mobilize international support to find him. It also raises a more profound question. Does Nayati's return prove there is a greater good in the world that can be harnessed? Can collective intention influence the physical world? I don't know the answer but I do know that I gave that virtual hug and it felt good to know that Nayati had returned home. Furthermore, this family gets my vote for launching the most successful social campaign of 2012!
Welcome home Nayati.