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Dec 02 2013

Contemptibly rude versus wildly irritating

More Elan-commentary.

Ken White at Popehat:

Mr. Gale serves to teach us two lessons about social media and the internet — and more broadly, about life.

Lesson One:  Douchebaggery Is Not A Zero-Sum Game

The first lesson is that boorish behavior is not binary.  People are complex, life is complex, and despite our hunger to see the world in simple terms of white hats versus black hats, sometimes all participants in a social media melee are assholes.

In this instance, it’s perfectly possible to recognize that (1) that “Diane” — if she exists — was contemptibly rude and entitled towards airline staff who have no control over when a plane leaves and who are simply doing their jobs under trying circumstances, and (2) also recognize that Elan Gale is contemptibly self-involved for seeing Diane’s rudeness as an opportunity to confront and torment her for his own amusement and self-promotion.  Recognizing one does not diminish the other, because douchebaggery is not a zero-sum game.  “Diane” thought — either out of bad character, or temporary frailty — that she was entitled to vent at some poor bastard working for an airline on a holiday.  Mr. Gale thought that the abuse of an airline employee was a swell opportunity to put a woman “in her place” and preen for his followers.  You can criticize both without letting either one off the hook.

Now, me, I think Ken exaggerates Diane’s badness there. As I’ve mentioned in comments, all Elan reports her doing in his first tweets is 1) complaining about a bad situation that affects everyone around her, as if it affected her alone, and 2) telling a flight attendant who tried to sympathize or deflect by saying he wanted to get home for Thanksgiving too, “it’s not about you.” I don’t think that does amount to “contemptibly rude and entitled.” Moderately rude, but not contemptibly so.

I think the deal here actually is that she was irritating, much more than she was actively rude. I recognize that distinction, because I find people irritating all the time – especially in airports and on planes. Ohgod ten times more so in airports and on planes. My hatred of both environments causes my irritation-meter to go into hypersensitive mode. A Diane complaining about things that are obvious and shared could be irritating way out of proportion to its real rudeness. On the scale of things flight attendants have to put up with, I doubt it even registers. They work on planes! With people who are squashed in like sardines, breathing horrible air, with some stranger’s head in their lap.

But a lot of people are reading backwards. They hated Diane as soon as Elan started tweeting about her, or as soon as they read his first tweets about her, and then they read awfulness back into her behavior to justify their hatred. It’s very like “guys, don’t do that.” A lot of people read their hatred back into that small, cheerful piece of advice until it became unrecognizable.

Diane was irritating, as self-centered people are irritating, but if they’re strangers to us it’s almost never our jobs to set them straight. Sometimes it is, but not often. On that flight? It really, really was not Elan’s.

And Shoshanna Jaskoll on the Times of Israel blog.

He’s doubling his following and becoming more and more popular with every move he makes against the anonymous “Diane”. Eventually, he tells her to ‘suck his d*ck’ and it really derailed from there.

Many people posted the story and called it hilarious, awesome, incredible etc. I felt like I was the only one who found it grotesque and over the line. Elan seemed to me like a gladiator in the pit being cheered as he hacked apart a smaller opponent.

Not the only one at all.

At the end of the saga, Elan tells Diane to ‘look him up online’. Doing so, we see that he is “producer of ABC’s The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor Pad…”

I can’t help but think that Elan has gotten reality TV and actual reality confused.  On reality TV, the participants are paid to be humiliated, have their best and worst moments documented, and to be judged by an audience where the biggest smart ass wins.

In actual reality, the players have stories far beyond what we are aware of, their lives are not for entertainment, and their reactions are not scripted to best effect. Elan played to his audience, his crowd, and repeatedly battered a woman who was clearly having a horrible day.

And whether she really has cancer or not, whether the face mask was just because she has a cold or wanted to avoid getting a cold, she didn’t need an Elan Gale straightening her out.

 

 

16 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    I agree. Whatever Diane did was at worst irritating. What Elan did was contemptible.

  2. 2
    dmcclean

    For some reason, even though it is flagrantly obvious, convincing some people that “douchebaggery is not a zero-sum game” appears to be impossible. I tried for 3 hours with some associates who wouldn’t shut up about Gates-gate and they just weren’t having it, the person in their tribe had to be 100% awesome and blameless.

  3. 3
    Splicer

    With all the savagery going on in the world, this stupidity should be what concerns me? Next up: Insult comics to be outlawed because someone got their feelings hurt.

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    Next up: Insult comics to be outlawed because someone got their feelings hurt.

    God, I fucking hope so.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Splicer: yes, that’s right. That’s absolutely the implication of this post: that this one subject is what should concern you, to the exclusion of all others. Good job of finding the subtext.

  6. 6
    Jafafa Hots

    Not that I’m defending insult comics, but there’s a bit of difference between going to a comedy club or renting a DVD to see an insult comic and hearing insults, and going to the airport hoping to fly to see your family and to your surprise being harassed by someone who then makes a big deal out of humiliating you online.

    Just a tiny.

  7. 7
    Anthony K

    Wait, just ‘outlawed’ or can they be sent to the gulag? Like, an actual honest-to-goodness gulag? Because that could make for some funny material, should they ever get released.

    “And what’s the deal with reeducation camp food? Where are they getting all of these moldy turnips? You know how long a turnip has to sit before it grows mold? What’s holding up the delivery? They tell us it’s a shortage of labor. Hello?! We’re in a fucking labor camp. Labor is all we have. Well, labor and lice.

    A lot of people get mad at me for that last one; they say I shouldn’t work ‘blue’. As if there’s any other way to work in Siberia, it’s so cold.

    Thank you everyone; I’ll be here all decade. Remember to ‘tip’ your guard, and try the veal: they just emptied out the political dissidents’ bloc and we know how tender and moist young libertarians are.”

    Not that I’m defending insult comics, but there’s a bit of difference between going to a comedy club or renting a DVD to see an insult comic and hearing insults, and going to the airport hoping to fly to see your family and to your surprise being harassed by someone who then makes a big deal out of humiliating you online.

    Just a tiny.

    What? No! Why, that’s like saying there’s a difference between having a professional surgeon remove your inflamed appendix and getting cut by a mugger after your wallet. If we disapprove of the latter, then we must outlaw the former, and then we’ll never live long enough to build magic freedom bitcoin utopia.

  8. 8
    Allan Frost

    I hope Splicer is still around so he can come back and give us a topic that concerns him. He could even frame it as a Dear Muslima:

    Dear person with stage IV lung cancer,
    I’m so sorry I am unable to express any concern about your terminal illness because I’ve heard “Dianne’s” plane was delayed and she wasn’t able to make it home for Thanksgiving in time to share her special stuffing recipe so she threatened to blow up the plane, or something, but luckily a brave hero was there to put her back in her place.

    Or something along those lines.

    BTW: I kinda feel guilty about reading Anthony K’s comments for free.

  9. 9
    gwen

    He had me until he told her to suck his d***. then he was just being a douchebag. He came out looking much worse than she did. He should have stopped while he was ahead.

  10. 10
    carlie

    Anthony K – That was beautiful, but “bitcoin utopia” is the kind of thing that takes you out of the range of great and right on into sublime.

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    …complaining about a bad situation that affects everyone around her, as if it affected her alone…

    Actually, in some very undeniable ways, it DID affect her alone: according to the original story at least, she had a terminal illness no other passenger had, and that gave her Thanksgiving trip an urgency the other passengers didn’t have. That wouldn’t make her behavior right (if any of it was real), but it would make it FORGIVABLE.

    With all the savagery going on in the world, this stupidity should be what concerns me?

    Well, Splicer, you chose to come here, and you chose to take the trouble to post a comment asking why it was worth your trouble. No one forced you to do any of that. So what’s your point?

    Next up: Insult comics to be outlawed because someone got their feelings hurt.

    Yeah, because when we criticize lame humor, it always leads to laws against humor; therefore all such criticism has to be shouted down to keep America from creating Death Panels.

  12. 12
    Raging Bee

    Thanks, Anthony, that was both funnier and more insightful than anything Elan ever tweeted.

    Elan Gale, putting the “twit” in “twitter” whether he’s asked to or not.

  13. 13
    Anthony K

    therefore all such criticism has to be shouted down to keep America from creating Death Panels.

    Though with new technology bringing down the cost, a moderate-sized home can be outfitted with rooftop Death Panels for just a few thousand dollars these days, making them climate friendly alternative to raising and arming a personal George Zimmerman, who may or may not shoot insult comics at all. And with the ability to sell surplus death back to the grid when conditions warrant, they’re an economical choice for the long-term homeowner.

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    On the scale of things flight attendants have to put up with, I doubt it even registers. They work on planes! With people who are squashed in like sardines, breathing horrible air, with some stranger’s head in their lap.

    Umm, I’m not sure that last bit is true – unless airlines have changed a lot since I last flew!

    Pretty sure flight attendants get seats of their own albeit cramped ones and big responsibilities to go with those small seats and long often uncomfortable hours. (Not talking from experience just imagination here.)

    It’s very like “guys, don’t do that.” A lot of people read their hatred back into that small, cheerful piece of advice until it became unrecognizable.

    Yep, as the line at the start of this song :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYPJOCxSUFc

    “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

    So, *so* many people in life, hear only what they want to hear or think they hear and disregard the rest. True here true everywhere really.

    Like Splicer at #3 hearing something not even there about insult comics and ignoring the rest indeed!

    Mind you, now seems this all turns out to be a very nasty hoax indeed.

  15. 15
    Ophelia Benson

    The flight attendants work on planes: with people who are squashed in like sardines, breathing horrible air, with some stranger’s head in their lap. It’s the people on the plane, the passengers, who have some stranger’s head in their lap – when the person in front of them puts the back of the seat back. The space between seats is so tiny now that if the person in front of you puts the seat back, that person’s head is much closer to you than you want it to be (and the tray table becomes useless).

  16. 16
    chigau (違う)

    ohgod
    Now, when I see

    elangale

    I read it as

    elangate

    Make me stop.

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