If you really wanted someone to talk to, would you call a stranger who gave his number out on youtube? Well, thousands of people have in the last few days. Ryan Fitzgerald is a 20-year-old from Boson who posted a video on the internet site a few days ago, giving people an opportunity to chat with someone if they wanted. Since then, his phone has been ringing off the hook. WATCH VIDEO.
I spoke to his twin brother and cousin in the green room this morning, as Ryan was getting ready for his interview. Needless to say, their heads were still spinning from the incredible outpouring that Ryan has received over the past few days. According to his brother, Ryan answers about 85-90% of all the calls that come in. And by their estimate, so far he's topping 9,000 new friends. Many just want to see if he'll pick up. Others have wacky questions -- one caller wanted Ryan's opinion on whether he should eat a cheeseburger. Others are actually asking him serious, life questions. And then there are some questionable, borderline stalkers -- one guy kept calling him over and over, saying he wanted to meet him and was going to travel from out-of-state to do so. But through it all, Ryan keeps answering.
I asked his family what they thought of the entire experience, and why Ryan would want to do something like this. They both answered unequivocally that Ryan has wanted to do something on youtube for a while, but didn't want to do something silly. He wanted to actually help people, and he believes that he is doing just that for many of these callers who are lonely and looking for someone to talk to. But this help cannot come cheaply, since he is already way over his cell phone minutes. His brother mentioned that his cell phone carrier is going to give him free minutes in exchange for what he is doing.
So this leads us to the question... do people actually buy into this? Would you really want to call a complete stranger just to chat? Or are people just messing with Ryan, thinking this is all one elaborate joke? I can tell you that Ryan doesn't intend it to be. He says he wants to help out. So feel free to buzz him. He'll answer... even if he's on live television. Unless you're Al Roker, that is. Al kept trying to call him during the interview, but couldn't get through. Take a number Al... the line forms to the right.