Yes, I Am Facebook Friends With Shayna Sykes

shayna sykesHi, my name is Joey Sweeney, and, like 773 other people, I am Facebook friends with Shayna Sykes. Since Shayna and her boyfriend/babydaddy Blake Bills rocketed to infamy locally and nationally yesterday, thanks to a two-state, two-stolen-police-car insane-o movie-ish chase scene that, thank God, only resulted in one broken leg and some property damage, I have received numerous messages from friends and colleagues asking the same things: “How in the fuck are you Facebook friends with Shayna Sykes?” “Do you know her?” And, as often as you’d imagine: “Are her boobs real?”

I will try here to attempt to answer all of these questions, to the best of my knowledge and memory.

I met Shayna during the summer of 2011, when she was working at PYT for my friend Tommy Up, and I had more or less given up coming into the Philebrity office for hanging out, just about daily, at what was then Arrow Swim Club. It was a pretty glorious summer. I’d been called in to throw parties at the pool in the wake of Nicole Cashman leaving/being pulled off the project, which was pretty glorious in and of itself for me, personally. But once I started working on stuff there, I realized something even better: The rollout for Arrow was so piss-poor that they sold very few memberships, and as a result, even in high summer, you’d go to the pool and no more than a dozen people would be there, ever. (This changed when the pool came back the following summer as North Shore Beach club and they sold out of memberships almost right away.)

But I digress: The point is, that summer, that pool was like the PYT/Philebrity clubhouse. Everyone thought it was full of Jersey douchebags — and to be fair, they did show up from time to time — but more often than not, it was just handful of people, chilling out. And this is where I met Shayna, who at the time, was living in some strange Tommy Up Brady Bunch experiment of a living situation, where he and a whole bunch of staffers were living together in a house just across from the Piazza. Suffice it to say that neither this living arrangement, nor the dream for one summer that was the Northern Liberties Leisure Class, lasted very long.

Shayna was nice. She really was. I never got to know her beyond a surface level, but she was funny and outgoing, and after one post-pool night of bar-hopping with her, Tommy, and Jay Yo, she friend-requested me on Facebook. That might have been the last personal interaction I had with her, but for seeing her comings and goings on Facebook. Which is kind of what made yesterday’s developments such a shocker.

See, after that summer, the Northern Liberties Leisure Class didn’t quite hang out as much; nothing bad happened, people just drifted away a little. (Sarah and Andy and Tommy, I miss you guys! Let’s get hot dogs!) But from what I gathered via Facebook, Shayna had really gotten her life together. She shacked up with her man Blake, whom I’ve never met but, yeah, totally seems like bad news, and, last year, had a baby. From her general tone, and from the pictures of that really, really cute baby, it seemed like things were really going her way and that she was quite happy.

Let this be a lesson to all of us who believe you can actually keep up with your friends’ lives on Facebook.

Because apparently, that impression could not have been more wrong. And when I saw this whole craziness on the news yesterday, I had probably the same set of reactions that most people did. One was that, although, the crimes involved the whole mess yesterday were serious indeed, there is certainly an element of humor in how absurd it all was, how Keystone Kops-ish it all was. Which is why you instantly started to see animated GIFs and instant memes about it (that quickly turned into this congregation of mouth-breathers).

But then, of course, there is an overarching sadness to it all. Looking at the reports that are still coming out, if I had to guess, I’d say that the chase and its prelude were an awful instance of drug use dovetailing with some kind of standing mental health issues on the part of one or both of the couple. And perhaps even worse, there’s the matter of their seven-month-old child — whose parents, both of them I think we can safely assume, are going to be in jail for a while. That’s no laughing matter at all. That’s just sad.

None of us get through this life without knowing people, casual or otherwise. And when my phone started blowing up yesterday, it made me think about the strange time we live in, and what an odd feeling it must be for people who have casual online relationships with people who wind up committing even more serious crimes than the ones that happened yesterday. People probably asked them the same questions as they asked me, and they probably had the exact same answers: I don’t know? They seemed nice enough? (As for the boobs, what do you think?)

Here is what I do know: All of us are part of a community, a continuum of humanity, despite the best efforts of Philly.com commenters to try and mark the line where one person’s humanity begins and the other’s ends. And don’t get it twisted: That’s where a lot of the more derisive humor about this insane situation is coming from. But as for Shayna? She was a nice enough person who obviously got out of her depth on a whole host of levels. And though I barely know her, I would bet that when Shayna gets well, and gets some clarity (and here’s hoping that she does), this is what will make her feel the worst: That she nearly killed a ton of people while violating that continuum, using a stolen-ass police car to do it, and having her baby taken away from her in the process.

  • http://twitter.com/Jack_Beitz Jack.

    Sure I’m guilty of making the obvious Grand Theft Auto joke about yesterday’s Grand Theft Auto. …but what I found totally bizarre were people talking about being Facebook friends with them or how many “mutual friends” they had in common like it was some 5th Grade Lunchroom popularity contest. Sucks.

  • http://twitter.com/evankerry Michael McCullough

    so your drinking buddy got twisted one day and made the local news, gtfo

  • Stelios

    Heroin makes you do some dumb shit, even if you are for the most part a decent person, I think that is about all this story has to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682299931 Christopher Sawyer

    Meh. I have several mutual Facebook friends with Shayna, quickly enough figured out she was with the PYT crowd. The cops are now saying it was heroin–a drug that is the #1 scourge of my neighborhood all the way from Old City to right up to City Line Avenue–the worst of it is of course in Kensington. We’ve had a number of drug-DUI’s lately in my immediate neighborhood. The worst one was a man who committed two DUIs in the same day, a while male from Jenkintown. He was pulled over on i-95, arrested, and released and later on that same day returned to Kensington, came back on Lehigh Avenue at high speed and struck a father of 12 and killed him. Neighbors detained him until the 26th District could arrive.

    I have several people I know personally who have struggled with addiction. You cannot comprehend what it’s like. Even family members can’t wrap their head around what it’s like. The biggest crutches are the people with whom you hang. If none of your friends are willing to speak up and cross a line and tell you you’re fucking up, you’ll justify just about anything you do.

    Does Shayna deserve the derision she’s getting? Abso-fucking-lutely yes. The public shame, the embarrassment, the likelihood of losing her child to the state permanently—all of these things put together may be what it takes to force her to hit the reset button on her life. If this doesn’t shake it out of her, nothing will. She crossed a major line and violated all sorts of mores and taboos. The public flack is really a fraction of a percent of what she’s probably worrying about right now as she sits around at the 24th/25th station on Whitaker Ave contemplating her life and what’s next.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyInSNJ Johnny Jay

    You are an absolute loser. You try to grab your 15 minutes by hitching your dingy to the Titanic? Fool.

    This couple didn’t care who was in their path or who could have gotten killed because ‘they had to get their fix today’. We don’t need trash like that, or trash like you defending them. Birds of a feather flock together, so I hope the cops start scoping the places and names you dropped… starting at your front door. Low life.

    You’re so out of touch that you got played by some nut case who probably winked at you one time and now you think it’s your job to defend.

    Sheep says what?

  • PlaidArmour

    Why am I not surprised she has a PYT connection?

  • http://twitter.com/caanndiceee Candice K

    dammmmnnn judgmental much?? @twitter-135712406:disqus hope you never make mistakes with the rocks you throw. I’m not saying this woman should be defended for what she did, but I’m not sure that was the point of this post. This couple didn’t care who was in their path because they were high–not because they wanted some fix. You describe it like it’s such a choice, but if you’ve ever known someone with an addiction then you know that it’s more of a slope. Especially with heroin. Addicts don’t wake up every day with the intention to hurt people. They are people. You reduce them to nothing and I truly hope it’s because you’ve never known someone in that situation, because if you do have perspective then I am wasting my time typing this. These people will certainly be punished for what they’ve done…and they deserve it for their gross indifference to human life. But we cannot sit at our computers and condemn them as horrible people based on drug-fueled actions. Perhaps they should have never pushed that first domino over, but when you’re so far gone that you’re stealing multiple police cars and involved in a high-speed chase at the age of 23, there’s no conscious choice involved.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyInSNJ Johnny Jay

    I wish I could live in a such a naive world as you. Where everyone “just needs that second chance”…so Brady Bunch of you. This wasn’t their first time getting high and stealing things. And let me be absolutely clear…a very good friend and former business partner of mine just got out of jail and might lose his kids so don’t talk to me about knowing and not knowing the effects of drug abuse I’ve seen a Prince turn into a Pauper so I speak with a bit of knowledge on the topic @candice K

  • http://twitter.com/originalsnitch The Original Snitch

    Chris Sawyer spittin’ mad truth all over the internets, not just Philadelinquency.

  • thegreengrass

    Im sure there’re similar stories behind all the other fucked up shit that happens here. Its so easy to see people in the news like this as horrible, but theyre all people who shit goes wrong for at some point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.esch.5 Melissa Esch

    Why are you even writing this … Have known shayna since waay b4 2011… Im fb friends with her too… Big deal. Shes been in my house she grew up with a family member of mine…. I guess you needed your 15 mins of fame… Ugh

  • Shawn Conley

    How long till PYT makes the Bonnie & Clyde Burger…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.schimpf.1 Jonathan Schimpf

    haterade.. chuggin’ it.

  • Lovetron

    I don’t think Shayna and her boyfriend are as hot as Bonnie and Clyde. I’m certain that Philly.com won’t run the photo gallery for Shayna and that other dude like 10 times like they did for Jocelyn and Edward.

    At least we are awash with petty dumb crooks that make decent photo galleries. I would offer that couple that jacked that guy at the casino and burned his car (Jessica Kisby and Craig Arno).

  • https://twitter.com/posthumanistic/ Posthuman

    Pretty much. When someones addicted to heroin or oxy’s theyre no longer the person they were and will do whatever is necessary to get the next fix. And none of us who’ve never done it, let alone been dopesick can even try to understand.

  • thegreengrass

    Sure, no doubt about it.

  • http://twitter.com/theobserving pete n pete

    Well said, dude.

  • http://twitter.com/johnnydomino Johnny Domino

    Besides, there’s an “h” in dinghy.

  • http://twitter.com/RickAfterDark Rick After Dark

    I’ll freely admit I clicked over to this from reading the post on Gawker, and I expected either more smart-ass commentary on the incident or a massively indignant defense of Miss Sykes. Instead, this is a very thoughtful and extremely well-written post. That said, I’ll admit I don’t have much (that is, virtually no) sympathy for the young lady. I realize that hard drugs make people do stupid things, but these two are incredibly lucky no one was seriously hurt or killed. The embarrassment is the least of their problems. And the kid is the one in the worst position. I hope a decent grandparent is willing to take care of her, because that has to be better than being raised by these two.