Internet outrage is the fire that starts itself and can never be extinguished.
I’m not sure why I need to know this, but United Airlines screwed up again and had to apologize for something, and now the whole non-story has risen to the top of my news-feed. Again.
I’m sure you’ve already seen it, but here’s the summary anyway: a woman was flying on United with her two-year-old to Boston from Hawaii with a layover in Houston. She was required to buy a separate seat for the kid, which she did at a cost of almost $1000. Boarding for the Houston-Boston leg, a stand-by passenger was accidentally assigned the toddler’s seat, and the woman was told she’d just have to keep the kid on her lap for three and a half hours, because the flight was full and there was no other choice.
The gate agent screws up and everybody loses. The passenger mom had to have the kid on her lap (don’t worry, of course she’ll get her money back and more), and ZOMG, her left arm got numb! Lawsuit time. The standby passenger, who was going to be miserable in a tiny middle seat for hours no matter what, now has a squirmy kid on his neighbor’s lap the whole time. United Airlines loses because, once again, they have been shown to be the devil incarnate.
And the uncaring and rude flight attendant who had to give the complaining passenger the bad news (and who is almost certainly a serial killer on her off days), will have to be shamed and sanctioned. Forever.
Of course, the whole sordid episode was immediately available on Whatever-Gram, so the entire world could rush to judgement, because it is absolutely essential that our hunger for outrage be fed several times a day.
And because the internet knew about it, well, that means it’s got to be front page news for the Washington Post and everyone else. That’s kind of the definition of “news” these days, especially if there’s video!
And because it’s United, a catalog of all their former transgressions has to be part of the story, complete with links and video of that guy who was dragged off and lost some teeth. Without that one, this new incident probably goes nowhere. Even the non-story of leggings-gate had to be dredged up.
Worst of all, United took five whole days to apologize. Five days! Monsters!
The reason they took so long was that they were waiting to find out what the Internet Justice League thought. Maybe it would come down on the mom for not making the best of a bad situation? Who knows – if they found something to dislike about her or her video, maybe she’d be the one to take the heat. All it would have taken was for her to mention the flight attendant’s weight, or maybe the stand-by guy’s, in her moment of frustration. Could have gone either way.
Like this one from a couple of days ago which was “trending”. A guy is unhappy about being in the exit row with a “plus-sized” person, who he thinks maybe couldn’t help others get out in an emergency, and therefore shouldn’t be there. He texts someone about it, believing the message to be private. She sees him doing it (and videos the whole thing, otherwise it’s not news), and the rest is history.
She wins, he loses. Fat-shaming in private communication is way, way worse than eavesdropping. It’s way worse than anything, actually. That’s what the internet decided.