Running on Twitter: How War Machine is modeling our modern manhunt paradigm

When I was a young man, we had O.J. Simpson and his white SUV.  That’s how you ran from the police.  You got on the Interstate and slow-rolled under some black helicopters while aroused soccer moms popped anti-anxiety medication in front of a Fox News ticker.

A cultural shift occurred in 2012, when software pioneer John McAfee, creator of the famous anti-virus software, fled from a murder investigation in Belize. He created the website whoismcafee.com and Tweeted about his innocence while hopping from hotspot to hotspot in the Belizean jungle.  In comparison, O.J Simpson looked like an inept throwback to the classic Ford Automotive era.

Now, recent Bellator outcast War Machine, formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver, is the suspect in a Las Vegas manhunt over a vicious assault that sent two unnamed victims to the hospital with severe injuries.  There is speculation that one of them may be adult film star Christy Mack, Machine’s romantic interest for the last year.  And proving that a real permanent shift has occurred in our fugitive paradigm, War Machine is narrating his escapades on Twitter.

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>I can&#39;t believe this…I must be cursed.</p>&mdash; War Machine (@WarMachine170) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WarMachine170/statuses/497732489063190529″>August 8, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>I&#39;m not a bad guy, I went to surprise my gf, help her set up her show and to give her an engagement ring and ended up fighting for my life.</p>&mdash; War Machine (@WarMachine170) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WarMachine170/statuses/498676636196552704″>August 11, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>The cops will never give me fair play, never believe me. Still deciding what to do but at the end of the day it&#39;s all just heart breaking.</p>&mdash; War Machine (@WarMachine170) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WarMachine170/statuses/498676905781231616″>August 11, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>I only wish that man hadn&#39;t been there and that Christy &amp; I would behappily engaged.I don&#39;t know y I&#39;m so cursed.One day truth will come out</p>&mdash; War Machine (@WarMachine170) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WarMachine170/statuses/498677241786933248″>August 11, 2014</a></blockquote>
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John McAfee, 67 year old grandfather of the gigabyte getaway, has a bit in common with the artist formerly known as Koppenhaver.  For instance, he is a presumed lunatic and he loves women.  After a generally eccentric life, McAfee moved to Belize in 2008, where he made sizable donations to the local police department.  But at the same time (although he has denied it), he is believed to have posted obsessively on drug discussion forum Bluelight as a bath salt obsessed character known as “stuffmonger.”  His presumed alter-ego was seeking to purify the drug MDPV, creating something he called “super perv powder.”  It is speculated that he used the drug while entertaining a harem of young women at his compound.  

Like War Machine, McAfee’s fun also ended in violence, when he discovered that four of his dogs had been poisoned.   His neighbor, Gregory Faull, had reportedly complained about the barking dogs before they were killed.  That same neighbor was found shot to death in his home two days later, and McAfee was a suspect in his murder.  So he ran.  And started Tweeting.

But unlike War Machine, McAfee used social media to misdirect the manhunt, and to create a discourse about government corruption, claiming that he was being framed.  He even secretly met with a Vice reporter who posted an article in December 2012: “We are with John McAfee Right Now, Suckers.” In the end, it actually worked.  He survived a Guatemalan jail, and he is living in an apartment in Montreal, Canada.  

That seems less likely for War Machine.  Because he isn’t orchestrating a bizarre but masterful online campaign for his innocence.  His Internet activity is impulsive.  Whereas McAfee strangely typed his way to safety, War Machine’s posts may end up being used as evidence of his guilt.  For instance, he admits that he went to surprise his girlfriend with an engagement ring and that he only ended up “fighting for [his] life.”  Unlike McAfee, he admitted being on the scene of the crime.  And if she is in the hospital, that doesn’t bode well for Machine.

How we handle running from the law has changed.  It has become digitized.  But it appears McAfee was a clever anomaly, and War Machine is probably a better representation of what we can expect from the selfie generation.  A guy who wants to hide, but can’t stop talking.  Even if the authorities who intend to prosecute him are the ones who are listening.

 

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