Notes on a Plane, Or Why Bullying with Kindness Isn’t a Thing

Bullying

Imagine for a moment, the following scene:

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and you’re stuck at the airport.

Maybe you’re having a bad day.  You’ve lost perspective.  You know you’re acting like an asshole but somehow can’t manage to contain yourself.

Maybe you’re worried that if you miss your non-refundable connecting flight that you’ll get stuck in some unknown city halfway between your home and your destination and given that you could barely afford the ticket price to begin with, will be shit out of luck.

Maybe your partner just left you.

Maybe you just got fired from your job.

Maybe you fall on the Autism spectrum and have abnormal responses to sensory stimuli, find it difficult to maintain social relationships or to understand social cues, or struggle to communicate.

Maybe you just found out you have cancer and have to fly home to break the news to your parents.

Maybe you’re just an entitled shitty person who maintains a total lack self-awareness.

Maybe you’re completely fictional.  (for argument sake let’s assume this isn’t the case, regardless of the fact that this is obviously the case).

It doesn’t really matter.  But there you are, at the airport on Thanksgiving and your flight is delayed and you’re acting like a total dick.  And then whew! you’re on the plane and getting set for your journey home when suddenly you get this note from a stranger on the plane…

Read the story here:  “This Epic Note-Passing War On A Delayed Flight Won Thanksgiving

So, what is so wrong with this (and the people who think it’s funny)?  Well, let me tell you.  There are really only two possibilities for what this guy must have been thinking to provoke this confrontation:

Hey, look at this total asshole who can’t possibly be upset enough.  I’m going to go out of my way to be cruel to her and taunt her and hopefully she’ll have a total fucking breakdown that I can tweet about and people will think I’m a hilarious hero.  PS. I’m going to make sure I use some language that incorporates both violence and sex to really let her know that I think her place in the world is beneath me regardless of any supposed provocation.

Or he thought

Hey, look at this woman, who is obviously pained in some way, and though I could probably try to make her day a little better (and thus in some small way improve the days of everyone around her) I’m still going to go out of my way to be cruel to her and taunt her and hopefully she’ll have a total fucking breakdown that I can tweet about and people will think I’m a hilarious hero.  PS. I’m going to make sure I use some language that incorporates both violence and sex to really let her know that I think her place in the world is beneath me regardless of any supposed provocation.

 

I almost can’t even write this because I’m so out-of-my-mind with confusion/rage/frustration/disillusionment, especially after reading Elan’s follow up statement on his blog where he starts out by admitting that he’s just an IRL Troll or as is more commonly known, a goddamn bully:

I had a great time antagonizing her, reading your responses, and just generally trying to have fun with an irritating person.

(emphasis mine)

Then, he makes an attempt to justify his bullshit behavior with some nonsense about how it’s unforgivable to be unkind to people while they’re working (which btw is nonsense not because that’s a bad idea, which it isn’t, but because the very fact that he was harassing this fictional woman on a plane – a specifically dangerous place to antagonize and provoke people, particularly on the people’s whose job it is to then have to keep them calm and placated).  He was fucking with the flight attendants and the other passengers as much as he was fucking with Diane.

Then, he reaffirms what I am already certain of, that he is, in fact, no hero.

And finally, he sums up his final point, which is that we should all be nice to each other.  wait?!? what?!?!  The guy who just harassed a woman for hours, did so to make the point that kindness should be spread and being nice is what is most important.  *brain explodes*

What I did today was just point out something we all know: Be nice. It’s Thanksgiving. Be nice.

Be nice everyday, but if you see a man or a woman working on a holiday you better respect that they would like to be with their family too.

But before I can let you go to just think about the sadness of this whole facade and how horrible people are and how maybe this is why I can’t sleep at night.  What I really want to point out is just how wrong this dude is about how to change the world.

So have some compassion and have some appreciation.

Most people do. Most people are great. And then there are a bunch of Diane’s in the world.

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.

So, I’m really glad we had fun today, but I really hope you guys join me, look a jerk in the eye, and tell them to eat a piece of your body, because really, that’s what the holidays are all about.

And while I know this man is, in his own fucked up way, trying to make this lighthearted and just a joke, the problem is that like rape jokes or bum fights, or all the other disgusting things humanity does in the hopes of hilarity, this falls far short of actually being funny.

You know the old adages Kill them with kindness and You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?  Well, semantics aside, they are spot on.  The world doesn’t need more people telling women to eat their dicks (or whatever violent and misogynistic rhetoric might be the equivalent for men), the world needs more kindness, more empathy, more patience.  Oh, and by the way, that DOES NOT mean less jokes.  It means better, smarter, funnier ones.  Jokes that don’t sacrifice the weak.  And if you can’t write those jokes…well fuck…try harder…or find another way to share joy with the world.

If you see someone in pain, help them ease it.

If you see someone in trouble, try to help.

If they snap at you and act like a jerk, don’t react in kind.

Don’t write them snotty insincere notes in order to get a laugh at their expense, tell them a joke and send them a present.  Maybe they laugh, maybe they don’t.  Maybe they’re thankful or maybe they’re not.  But you tried.  You were a good person.  You made a sincere effort to make the world a better place.

And btw Elan, trolling someone in real life…is just bullying.  You are a bully.  But maybe I can buy you a drink someday, and you can tell me why you’re so upset at the world.  Maybe I can help or maybe I can’t.  But I’ll listen if you need me, I’d listen if any of you need me.  Because honestly, what the fuck else are we doing here, if not trying to make the world a better place for everyone else in it?

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Victoria Young

Writer. Dater. Masturbator. Don't worry my parents don't think I'm funny either. Grad Student. My breasts aren't ashamed of me either. You and me kid, we're going to change this world.

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