Breaking: See new blog post here.
Thanksgiving is stressful.
It's supposed to be an uncomplicated time of shared gratitude, but too often the reality is not the ideal.
Add in travel, and the stress multiplies.
Which is why I was both surprised and unsurprised to hear about an incident on a plane that was live-tweeted by reality TV producer Elan Gale, twitter handle @worldofelan.
You can get the whole story here. In a nutshell, an older lady on Gale's flight was panicked about her late flight on Thanksgiving Day and was flooding all her anger, stress, and fear on the airline personnel.
It's something we've all seen before. But the lady passed over some line in Gale's mind.
He decided to take matters into his own hands once they took off. He began sending her notes filled with requests for her to be reasonable, along with snark, and later, other messages in very poor taste. She sent him notes back saying how rude he was being. He took pictures of his notes and hers and showed the world on Twitter.
When they got off the plane, she slapped him in the face. Thankfully, that's where the incident ended.
Elan has multiple tens of thousands of Twitter followers, and apparently many of them approved of his actions and some called him a hero.
Others, including librarian Angie Manfredi (@misskubelik), thought he had made a bad situation worse.
To me, Gale's behavior was not only unfortunate and inappropriate; it was also potentially very sad.
What Gale did was something common in virtual environments. You come upon a rude person, sometimes called a troll, and you begin a conversation that can quickly become ugly and vicious.
Online, that type of thing can be ignored by making the webpage go away. But in an airport, on a plane, everyone suffers. As Manfredi points out in a tweet, Elan was making more work for the airline employees as they attempted to mediate what turned into a violent incident.
Elan treated the person as an online troll, not caring anything about what was causing her behavior.
At the least, we have to cut people slack for Thanksgiving stress. But there was every possibility as well that the woman had sick family, a death in the family, or even was dealing with a mental illness.
Who knows how much Gale's behavior ratcheted up the woman's fear and rage-- something that her family had to deal with at the end of the line.
It's no fun, but the compassionate thing to do in that situation is simply to let it go. Engaging with a fear-filled, stress-filled, possibly mentally-ill person will not help.
Reality TV has always entertained at the expense of human beings. This time, the producer of the show didn't pay the human being a cent or even get her to sign a release. Are you not entertained?