02 December 2013

The Meanness Epidemic

I don’t know if I’m just more sensitive because I’m tired from traveling back from Raleigh today, but it’s one of those days where I feel very out of sync with other people. What some of them find amusing, I just find cruel and out-and-out mean. 

You may be aware of the first example since it made the rounds on social media. On Thanksgiving, a number of sites began running a story about a producer, “Elan,”  from “The Bachelor,” who decided to teach a whiner on his Thanksgiving flight a thing or two. Apparently, after their original flight was delayed, a woman, “Diane,” began berating the airline personnel and letting everyone know that she really had to make her connecting flight.  In other words, according to Elan, she was acting as if it was her own personal Thanksgiving and she was the only one inconvenienced by the delay. Once they were in the air, Elan sent her a glass of wine  and some vodka with a note saying, “Hopefully, if you drink it, you won’t be able to use your mouth to talk. Love, Elan.” 

She wrote him back a tame note to let him know she didn’t think he was funny. Elan wrote back saying that she needed to treat the flight attendants nicer and signed it, “I hate you very much. Eat my dick.” She write back an appalled note and he escalated it further, sending another note about eating his dick. She slapped him when she got off the plane and he was gleeful that she did, indeed, miss her connection, but decided not to press assault charges.

I found her behavior, if Elan was to be believed, distasteful, but I found his reaction repugnant and he was the villain in the story to me. But not to a lot of people. Some of my Facebook friends called Elan a hero, as did people in comments sections on websites. And a huge amount of people thought what he did was hilarious. What? Under the guise of sticking up for the workers, he was simply bullying this woman. I don’t understand in any way, shape or form how what he did was acceptable behavior, much less, heroic. Today he admitted the whole thing was a hoax and he hoped that he made us laugh over the holiday. All I hope is that I never meet him in person.

Then, today someone posted a link to a gallery called “The 30+ Ugliest Former Child Stars.” I’m not clicking on it because I find the whole thing so hateful. What is the point? Am I supposed to feel better about myself if I look at the gallery and see a child actor who was adorable as a tot and now looks like a regular normal person?  Even in my lowest moments of self esteem, I don’t think that would make me feel better about myself or about anything. 

Sometimes, in my more vulnerable moments, I think I don’t have the same sense of humor as most people and maybe that’s why I feel like a stranger in a strange land occasionally.  And then I get down on myself for taking it all so seriously, but I honestly do believe that Elan and the creator of the gallery  put some seriously negative energy out into the universe...and why would you want to do that?  Life is plenty hard without creating things like that. 

That brings me to Paul Walker, the actor who died in a horrific car accident on Saturday. On my flight back today, I’d already decided I wanted to donate to his charity, Reach Out Worldwide. Here was someone who, through his volunteering, saw a need to get first responders to disaster areas, so he used his star power to start a charity that did just that. Formed only 3 years ago, it already looked like the organization was having a real impact.  He died after leaving a ROWW fundraiser for Philippine typhoon victims. ROWW’s webpage has nothing about Walker’s death, instead its home page is about the world the organization and its partners are doing around the world, which is somehow, how it should be.

But even Walker’s death isn’t escaping the meanies. Someone I know has taken exception to the media using the word “tragedy” to describe his death. I don’t even understand the reason for the irritation, but I’m willing to bet that this is a tragedy to his 15-year old daughter and to his friends.  When did we become so sanctimonious and so unfeeling? Is kindness no longer a response that we should even expect? For Paul Walker it wasn’t.

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