I spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend offline, but I knew the Internet would give me something to write about as soon as I got back on. For better or for worse, the online world never disappoints.
Most of you have heard about, read about, or followed the live-tweet saga of a feud that occurred on an airplane between television producer Elan Gale and a disgruntled airplane passenger named “Diane”.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read about the story and the tweets of Elan here.
If you don’t want to go and read it all, here it is in a walnut shell:
- Elan Gale (producer of The Bachelor) becomes highly annoyed by an airline passenger several rows up who cannot stop complaining about the flight being delayed. This passenger named “Diane” is insanely worried about missing her connecting flight, grumbles under breath, and even exclaims, “Today is Thanksgiving! I’m supposed to be with my family. NOT with you people I barely know!”
- Elan sends her a glass of wine, along with a note.
The note reads:
“Dear Lady in 7A, It has come to my attention that today is your ‘Thanksgiving!’ It must be hard to not be with your family. Please accept this glass of wine. It is a gift from me to you. Hopefully if you drink it, you won’t be able to use your mouth to talk. Love, Elan”
- She then responds with a note about how he is an awful person with no compassion.
- He responds with another note ending with, “I hate you very much. Eat my dick.”
- She calls him inappropriate and threatens to tell the authorities when they land.
- Elan live-tweets the whole thing as it is happening, walks by to take a picture of her seat number for Twitter, and writes another note that mentions his dick.
- Eventually the plane lands and Diane slaps Elan when they get off the plane, causing her to be detained by gate officials. She ends up missing the connecting flight she was so very worried about missing in the first place.
We don’t know much about Diane except what Elan tells us in his tweets. We know she is wearing a mask – which leads me to believe she has a compromised immune system and is in some way sick. We also know she is hyper-focused on making her connecting flight, highly agitated, and breathes heavily. This also makes me wonder if maybe she has some sort of anxiety disorder.
Either way, it does not matter. It has been my experience that when someone behaves in a highly agitated, disgruntled, and annoying manner like Diane, they are at that moment in time extremely unhappy. Is this an excuse for being mean – perhaps not, but I have never seen a situation made better by making an obviously unhappy person feel more unhappy.
Was Elan’s note inflammatory? Absolutely.
Was it inappropriate and misogynistic to tell her to eat his dick? Yup.
Was it incredibly egotistical to try and shame her and broadcast it all over the internet? Yes.
Was he being a bully with his legions of Twitter followers? Without a doubt.
He produces reality television. His whole job is to toy with people’s lives and emotions and offer it up as entertainment. That’s exactly what he did in this real life situation. I am not that surprised by his actions.
What does surprise me is how many people retweeted, and posted to facebook this whole story while commenting on it as “hysterical”, “funniest live-tweet ever”, and “Elan is my hero!”
He even taunted her at the very end of the whole ordeal handing her a final note telling her to look him up on twitter and read all the hateful tweets his followers were slinging her way.
What’s disappointing is that he did it all under the guise of standing up for people in the service industry.
I doubt anything he did helped any of the flight attendants on that plane.
If you want to show your appreciation to someone in the service industry, you sincerely thank them. You tip them generously if it’s a position that customarily accepts tips. You send them a gift and a note.
You don’t shame someone else in their name.
Also, the herd mentality, and the cheering on of the bully is what catches me completely off guard in this incident.
Elan even posted this statement on his tumblr account:
“And it’s OUR job to tell every Diane to shut up.
It’s OUR duty to put the Diane’s of the world in their place.
We need to REMIND them about the way of things.
We outnumber them.”
Honestly guys, I cannot get the smell of a hero/God complex out of my nostrils.
It’s actually NOT our job.
If Diane were out back in the alley killing a puppy that would be a different story.
It is not our job to teach people a lesson.
It is not our job to punish.
It IS our job to show compassion.
It IS our job to try to improve a situation instead of inflame it.
It is our job to evolve.
I wonder how the situation might have unfolded had the first note been different:
I guess we’ll never know.
Maybe next time.
PS – Who knows if all of this is even true. Apparently, Elan live-tweeted a blind date last year that turned out to be completely fake. If this is fiction, then it is even more disappointing. People should at least make up stories with a little more merit.
A woman claiming to be Diane’s cousin wrote this comment on a Storify post:
“Diane is my cousin. I want to thank you for not pressing charges against her for slapping you. She would have been arrested for that, and spending a few days in jail would have been a particularly cruel irony under the circumstances. I am a bit surprised you said you could hear her breathing, because Diane has stage IV small cell lung cancer. This would have been her last Thanksgiving with us. I say “would have” because she did miss her connecting flight. She arrived this morning, having spent the night in a hotel in Phoenix. Admittedly, Diane hasn’t been handling her imminent death very well, but she really was looking forward to being with us and the rest of her family- all of whom were flying in for one last Thanksgiving with her. In her defense, she was very contrite and upset about her behavior on the plane. Certainly everybody wanted to get where they were going, but perhaps she can be forgiven for thinking that her need was more pressing than most. Thanksgiving has always been Diane’s favorite holiday, and her comment about the stuffing is true- she was the “keeper of the family recipe” and all of her nieces were planning to be instructed (one more time) in the mysterious ways of Auntie Diane’s stuffing. Since she missed her connecting flight, this did not occur. We are going to try to get as many of the family together as we can tomorrow, but that is up in the air. The plans were all for yesterday. I wish you had known her before she got cancer. You would have loved her. She was bright, funny, and compassionate, and had a self-deprecating sense of humor. She taught elementary music. She loved kids. She loved to laugh. She was everybody’s favorite aunt. Actually, she still is.”
Again, we have no way of knowing if this is really her cousin, or if this whole story is even real.
Nonetheless, let’s stop glorifying when people are crappy to each other. Being an asshole as a way of “teaching” other people not to be assholes is pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
UPDATE UPDATE: 12/02/2013 – 9pm
Elan tweeted this picture to let us know who Diane really is:
He is clearly telling us that as some of us suspected, Diane does not exist. So, why make the whole thing up? Why make himself such a jerk in this story? Perhaps he was trying to make himself the hero. Perhaps he was playing the world to see how many thousands of people he could have cheering his name as he paints himself the savior of service men and women everywhere.
Perhaps he just can’t help himself…
But this is what he said:
I still can’t get the smell of that pesky God complex out of my nostrils.
Goodnight Diane in 7A and the Thanksgiving live-tweeted feud of 2013. Turns out you were just as real as his reality television shows… and just as many people bought into it.