This morning, a couple of things caught my eye, and not in a good way. Both also center on social media. The first is a prime example of how we need to always be aware of the potential for anything we say or do being captured on someone else’s smart phone, either via video or through their social media accounts. The second is an prime example of the faux outrage that is gripping part of our country right now.
The first is actually getting more media coverage than the second. I first became aware of the situation when I saw it being retweeted on Facebook, along with all the accompanying outrage. Very simply put, over the weekend, a gate agent in Denver refused to allow an 11-year-old to board a United flight unless she put a dress (or, I’m sure, any other “appropriate” form of clothing”) on over her leggings.
Another passenger, waiting in line behind the girl, was outraged. So she took to social media to chastise the airline for what was happening. I’ll admit, my initial reaction was basically to wonder why leggings weren’t appropriate. But, as I read more about the situation, I soon realized there was more to the story than what the initial tweets, the ones raising all the outrage, told.
First of all, let’s be clear here. Most airlines have a provision in their terms of service that gives them the right to refuse boarding to anyone who violates those ToS. I know I’ve never read all the fine print and I doubt most of the rest of you have either. It would surprise me if the woman behind the tweets had.
Second, what isn’t clear in the initial tweets is the fact that the girl was flying non-rev. What that means is that either someone in her family or a third party works, or worked, for United, and gave her a pass to fly free. Most airlines have a separate set of rules for their non-rev passengers. These rules include provisions about what clothing is appropriate for the trip.
So, at least in the mind of the gate agent, the leggings the girl wore were in violation of the dress code.
When that provision was pointed out to some of those on FB who were condemning the airline and the gate agent, they shifted the goal posts. Suddenly, it became an issue of United and the agent applying a double standard because the girl’s father was allowed to board while wearing shorts. He was in casual clothes, so why couldn’t she?
I have two issues with this line of argument without further information being given. The first is a logic issue. Those making the argument assume the father was also flying non-rev. He may have been, but I’ve not seen that reported. The second is the assumption that the rules weren’t being applied to him when they were to the girl. What this second assumption fails to take into account is that some airlines, and I assume United is included in this, allow for shorts to be worn by non-rev passengers if the shorts meet certain standards. Because the father was allowed to board without changing clothes, and assuming he was also flying non-rev, it is safe to assume his clothing met the standard of the dress code.
Now, do I think an 11-year-old wearing leggings should have been denied boarding, non-rev or not? No. However, I get tired of situations being twisted just to fit a certain view point so they can be used to argue something that might not even be an issue. I do think United needs to review their non-rev dress code and make sure it is fair to both genders (oops, will I get in trouble for that?) But to make a federal case out of something, especially when you don’t know all the details and when you admit you are doing it because you assume a bias, helps no one.
It also shows the problem with the easy access to social media and the way one tweet can be taken viral — and how those following the original tweet on someone else’s social media feed may never see the follow-ups and learn the entire story.
The second example also came from Facebook and is a prime example of the Trump Derangement Syndrome that seems to have infected some of those on the left. I see it every morning with the Dallas Morning News. Reminiscent of the early days of ABC’s Nightline during the Iran hostage crisis where the show opened with “Day X”, the Dallas Morning News has an ongoing post of “Day Y of the Trump Presidency” (or words to that effect).
The Facebook post bringing it all to mind this morning was dated 18 hours before I first saw it. Someone was condemning Trump because he hadn’t issued a statement about the protests and arrests in Russia. The implication being he hadn’t issued a statement because he is a Russian mole in the White House. The only problem was I’d been up for more than an hour and hadn’t seen anything about the protests in my wandering through the interwebs, nor had I seen anything about it the night before when I watched the news.
So, I went strolling through the internet, looking at the homepages of some of the major news outlets and other sites where such a story might show up. It took me four sites before I found anything and, even then, I had to scroll down three screens or more before I found the story.
Funny, there had been no condemnation of the media for not carrying the story, only of Trump because he hadn’t been vocal in condemning the Russian handling of the situation as soon as he learned of it. Oh the horror because Russia did something and Trump didn’t instantly jump in to say Russia needed to stop being, well, Russia.
But let’s not consider the fact Trump might be waiting for more information about what really happened in Russia. Information not only from media sources and Russia itself but form our own intelligence community. Oh no, let’s immediately respond. How much you want to bet the person condemning him on Facebook would have a different view if the protest and arrests had occurred in London or Paris — or even Beijing? The fact it was Russia and Trump is president was enough of a connection for her to condemn him.
That’s the problem with social media. Well, one of the problems. We can do or say anything we want and hit enter without thinking. Too many of us tend to do so. We post things without considering that we might not have all the facts. We forget that once something hits the internet, it is there forever. Social media is the modern day version of walking out of the restroom with toilet paper trailing behind you, tucked into your pants or stuck on your heels.
But there is another problem with social media, one we are all guilty of. We are too quick to accept as accurate what we see posted on Twitter or FB or whatever our favorite platform might be. It is up to us to ask the same questions of those “sources” we do of the media and of our politicians, etc. If we don’t, then we hold at least some of the responsibility if a story is later clarified or proven to be false and we shared the false or misleading information without disclaimers or questions. It is time for each of us to start taking responsibility for what we put out into cyberspace.
In other words, it is time we start thinking before hitting the “share” button.