Livetweeting Real Life: When People Stop Being Polite and Start Being Dicks for Retweets [UPDATE]
By now, you’ve no doubt read Elan Gale’s “epic” Thanksgiving airplane note-a-pallooza. Whether you saw it shared on Facebook or Twitter or splashed all over the Buzzfeed homepage, everyone seemed to be talking about this holiday “win” and how Diane in 7A got what she deserved. A lot of people read it and found it hilarious, scoring one for every frustrated traveler. I read as “man torments irritating, if not understandably so, woman with threats of penile cannibalism.”
Other people felt this way as well, and Gale has responded with the trademark cleverness befitting a producer of The Bachelor, lamenting “haters” and hashtagging “TeamElan” while encouraging those against him to eat his dick like a broken Dane Cookmonster with the catchphrase mechanism stuck.
The “well, ya know” means eat his dick, if subtlety isn’t your thing.
Rumors now swirl that Diane in 7A is suffering from cancer, hence her particularly pained state, or that she doesn’t exist at all and he made the whole thing up. Either or neither way, was the whole shebang actually funny?
Twitter wars tend to fall into that socially uncomfortable humor of a particularly dark episode of The Office where it’s funny but then you’re cringing and you’re not sure if it’s funny or not anymore, and you definitely feel sorry for the weaker party, usually the “victim” of the comedian, real or otherwise (Elan Gale falls into the “otherwise” category). And it’s true even when you actually like the battler. I’ve had at least two nightmares in which I’ve angered Patton Oswalt. But, as awkward and uncomfortable as those can be, they’re more well thought out than “EAT MY DICK EAT MY DICK EAT MY DICK.”
These social media battles royale are quick to become a popularity contest, ironically waged by people who probably would have lost actual popularity contests in high school, aka, bloggers and comedians, which is why we ended up as bloggers and comedians, because we’re angry and bitter and making fun of people is fun. But, a line gets crossed when the target becomes a real person. It’s one thing to tweet about how lame Diane in 7A is. It’s another to send her notes repeatedly requesting that she “eat [your] dick.” And, maybe it’s because we weren’t popular in high school that we didn’t learn that some things are best said behind someone’s back—because saying it to their faces isn’t always better.
The other Twitter fight of the weekend illustrates this more clearly. In Kyle Kinane vs. Pace Picante Salsa, what started as your standard Twitter hilarity quickly turns weird when the entire social media response team gets involved, identities are stolen and free salsa is promised. But, the difference between Kinane and Gale is this: at a certain point, Kinane begins to feel bad. These direct message senders become real people and it seems that one of them might lose his job. Whereas, for Gale, at no point does he ever feel the slightest empathy for the woman in 7A. He just antagonizes her. Because it’s easy. Because she’s already annoying. And annoying women always deserve what they get, especially on planes, right? (For the record, the most infuriating part of the whole story was that he introduced himself as his Twitter handle and told her to look him up online because OH MY GOD he’s the worst.)
We’ve all had annoying fellow travelers. Just last week, a woman yelled at everyone in our security line, “you know, you COULD help.” And, in my head, I was all, “bish, they’re your bags, calm down and push them through like an adult.” But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do anything. Because airports are terrible and airplanes are terrible and everyone’s terrible. This isn’t news. This isn’t interesting. This isn’t funny. It’s just…mean. Mean for the sole purpose of getting the attention of people on Twitter. Mean to a weaker person just to get other people to think you’re cool and funny and get them to laugh along with you.
Maybe high school never ends after all.
UPDATE: OK, he made the whole thing up apparently. Now it’s just unfunny and awkward but at least no annoying cancer-havers were harmed in the process? Whatever. I wasted words on this fuckery when I could have covered the Kardashian Kristmas kard.