#NotElan (or The Importance of Compassion)
Have you ever had a really bad day? A day where, pushed to your limits, you have reacted poorly to a stressful situation? Maybe you've even done this in public?
A woman named Diane had just such a day recently. Unlike most of us, who have our weak and embarrassing moment of shame in relative anonymity, she had hers broadcast across cyberspace. If that wasn't bad enough, she was further harassed by a stranger, who felt the need to point out her bad behaviour again and again, with increasing persistence and offensiveness -- a stranger who felt the need to engage his Twitter army in his quest for victory and a public shaming.
Ever hear of the Good Samaritan?
I'm not particularly religious, but this is a story I take to heart. Diane was having a tough time coming to grips with missing a very special family holiday and we don't know what else Diane might have going on in her life. Diane needed a Good Samaritan. Diane needed a helping hand, or at least a kind ear.
I have a pretty simple view on Life. I expect nothing more out of it than what I put back in. I believe kindness should be freely given, help freely offered, and that people should do their best to be nice to each other.
Kindness goes a long way.
Diane was trying to get home for her family Thanksgiving. She was travelling alone. When informed that her flight would be delayed and she could miss her connecting flight, she reacted in an understandably upset (though arguably self-centered) manner. Instead of offering compassion and commiserating with her, this stranger felt the need to mock her on Twitter.
What Diane got was #TeamElan.
It went wrong from the start. Elan sent Diane a glass of wine a a note. He had an opportunity to turn her day around. He had the chance to be a nice guy and help someone make the best of a crappy situation.
Instead, he suggested she drink the wine so she couldn't use her mouth to talk. Elan felt that this was his way of standing up for the flight staff and fellow passengers -- his own tweeted vendetta. He would show her -- she would be ashamed!
Not getting the reaction that he wanted, he then approached her with more alcohol. I can only imagine how threatened and trapped she must have felt, on the receiving end of harassing behaviour from a stranger on a plane in flight -- it wasn't as though she could get up and leave. I give her credit for maintaining her composure.
Meanwhile, Elan was clearly enjoying the drama:
"I'm not going to lie I am shaking this is so terrifying she is so angry at me it's kind of incredible," he tweeted. "I don't really know what to do now I'm afraid to get out of my seat. This is like being on a roller coaster I'm scared and super excited."
Retaliation? Had he forgotten that he started this, not her? That she had not said a single word to him prior to him sending her the wine? That this big public shaming was his idea? Shouldn't she be the one to retaliate?
Nope. He wrote her another note, even more offensive than the first, and handed it to her. Among other things, it stated:
"Eat my dick."
In what version of reality is this an acceptable thing to say to a person YOU picked a fight with? A person who did absolutely nothing to you, nor was deserving of your unwanted attention? Would he have behaved so aggressively if Diane was a man? I think not.
Diane was a woman experiencing an emotionally challenging experience. Diane was an easy victim. Diane was easy entertainment for a reality television producer on a boring flight.
Somewhere along the way Elan forgot Diane was an actual person -- maybe this is a job hazard when you work in reality tv.
More notes flew back and forth. Diane showing restraint, Elan showing his inner Asshole. Upon embarking, where Elan was waiting with yet another note for her, Diane snapped.
She slapped him and was restrained by authorities.
They informed she would not be making her connecting flight. She would miss her family gathering.
Elan, showing his true colours, laughed at her and passed along his final note:
To sum it up more succinctly:
- a woman found out something very upsetting about her holiday plans and reacted emotionally
- she was harassed over that behaviour during her entire flight by a perfect stranger (a male)
- this provoked her to react in an even more inappropriate fashion
- at this point, the harasser felt vindicated and that he'd made his point by manufacturing a situation that guaranteed her plans were completely ruined
- ALL OF THIS was posted on the internet for the world to see
I'm horrified that so many people support his behaviour. The #TeamElan Twitter orgy is an eye-opener: "She got what she deserved." "Funniest thing I've read." "Hilarious -- this guy is a hero!" "EPIC!" It has been reposted on a variety of social media and entertainment websites.
Yeah, Elan, you're a hero for the masses alright. Or a hero, at least, for bullies, abusers, harassers, and ill-mannered people everywhere. Does it make you laugh to kick people when they are down? Does the entertainment value make it all worthwhile?
You're not my hero.
Clearly I am lacking a funny bone. Reading this "epic" exchange, angered me on many levels. The comments of support left me feeling very sad. The viral nature of it really makes me hope that "Diane" is never identified further for more harassment from this guy and his masses of supporters.
You get a choice every day -- a choice to make the world a better place by extending compassion, or a choice to spread negative energy like spreading cancer.
Every choice we make has a ripple effect. Make the right one.
I just saw this:
“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”
Might be a good time for an apology, Elan.