And then we board a plane.
July 10, 2018 5:45 AM   Subscribe

"A woman gets on a plane. She’s flying from New York to Dallas, where she lives and works as a personal trainer. A couple asks her if she’ll switch seats with one of them so that they can sit together, and she agrees, thinking it’s her good deed for the day. She chats with her new seatmate and they discover that they have a lot in common: he’s also a trainer, and a former professional soccer player. Maybe there’s a spark of attraction between them, or maybe he instigates the conversation despite her polite signs of disinterest—it’s difficult to discourage someone when you’re trapped together on a four-hour flight. We don’t really know what is going on in her head, and there’s no way that anyone could know. The woman on the plane is unaware that the woman sitting in the row behind her is watching and recording her every move." Ella Dawson: We Are All Public Figures Now
posted by everybody had matching towels (101 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great piece.
At no point did she agree to participate in the story Rosey Blair was telling. After the fact, when the hunt began and the woman took no part in encouraging it the way Holden did, Blair tweeted a video in which she drawled, “We don’t have the gal’s permish yet, not yet y’all, but I’m sure you guys are sneaky, you guys might…”

Blair’s followers were sneaky. They did as they were told and immediately replied with screenshots of the woman’s Instagram account. They shared links.

When people called Blair out for this blatant invasion of privacy, she blocked them. Because she, apparently, could control her own boundaries. Later she tweeted about wanting a job at BuzzFeed.
[...]

What Blair did and continues to do as she stokes the flames of this story despite knowing this woman wants no part of it goes beyond intrusive. It is selfish, disrespectful harassment.
I couldn't agree more, and I hope she crashes and burns in some instructive fashion.
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on July 10 [77 favorites]


Yeah, this whole thing was SUPER creepy and sketchy. And just plain WRONG.
posted by uberchet at 6:16 AM on July 10 [19 favorites]


going viral terrifies me.

There's literally one person who seems to have benefited from going viral, and he was already an accomplished expert on North Korea so he just got more convenient to book.

But everyone else? Imagine being defined by something you can't control, that multiple people are looking to actively subvert for their own purposes. Then there's the people who desperately try and rebottle that lightning, or try and monetise the meme (especially if the meme they tried to monetise is based off someone else's work, as with Grumpy Cat using Kate Beaton's "I had fun once. It was terrible" line.

I've been a part of a media circus before, and the sense of relief as the story ends and the cameras move on is palpable.
posted by Merus at 6:19 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]


I guess that it's not totally clear to me whether this is really about the way we're all public people now, or whether it's really just about how people feel empowered to harass and humiliate any woman who is deemed a public person, which is any woman who comes to their attention through public channels. Because all her examples are women, right? And there is a big element of slut-shaming involved in several of them. I don't think that's the deal with Justine Sacco (and I'm actually ambivalent about whether Justine Sacco belongs in this article), but it's definitely true of the author's herpes article, and it's true of the woman on the plane. When men go viral, do people leave comments on their Instagram vacation pictures calling them a slut and accusing them of giving a stranger a blowjob in an airplane bathroom? Maybe if they're gay. But I'm having a hard time thinking of a straight, white man who has been caught up in this kind of bullshit.

So anyway, I think this may really be about the intersection of publicity and violent misogyny, not just about the fact that everyone is considered a potential public figure these days.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:24 AM on July 10 [93 favorites]


I couldn't agree more, and I hope she crashes and burns in some instructive fashion.
? I mean, at the end of the piece, Dawson raises the question of whether she's doing exactly to Rosey Blair what Blair did to the woman on the plane. Blair is not really a public figure. She did not expect her tweets to go viral. She initially got a positive response, but she's getting a lot of backlash now. I think that wishing exemplary punishment on her may be part of the same phenomenon that this article is discussing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:31 AM on July 10 [17 favorites]


Remember when the thing people worried most about on the internet was getting Slashdotted?
posted by lagomorphius at 6:31 AM on July 10 [26 favorites]


yeah, it's getting pretty weird out there.

personal velocity limits on social media would be nice. Like, give your profile or data the ability to be restricted to rate limits of exponential retweeting or whatnot.

Right now it's either you run the risk or stay the fuck out.
posted by nikaspark at 6:32 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


I saw this thread after the fact, and yes, it was creepy. I had an "uh oh" feeling when I saw the guy's Instagram feed was a bunch of professional photographs, thinking of course he's going to play along. Not to shame him though, he didn't ask for this either.

I would feel so sick and weird if I were the subject of Blair's stalking.
posted by slipthought at 6:32 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often get their biggest kicks in life by tearing down the reputation of others and they will often go to great lengths to get this "enjoyment" out of life. There are a lot of sick folk out there, but they're pretty weak and easy to get rid of on their own. It's their sheepish followers- the people who would never do this themselves because they don't get enough kicks from it to go through the trouble, but are happy to join in with support after the fact because they want to belong to something- those are the real problem. Once they have these followers they feel bigger than life and become even more empowered to do worse things in the future.

"Going viral terrifies me"
Meh. So many people go "viral" today that no one can even remember who the people involved are after a few days anymore. Unless you're committing a crime or doing something especially bad, it doesn't do the sort of thing it used to when youtube and stuff first started out. I'm not saying there wouldn't be temporary discomfort or that it wouldn't have great affect in certain cases or times of life, but overall due to the current culture these people will be forgotten soon enough.
posted by fantasticness at 6:36 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


From SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis, when the country was still a democracy:

The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.

(bolding mine)
posted by brujita at 6:38 AM on July 10 [40 favorites]


There is no opting-in, no consent form, no opportunity to take it all back.

YES. And I think one reason this particular incident has captured people's worries in this particular way is the confluence of things the hounded woman at the center of it didn't do. She didn't do anything the general public thinks is shame-worthy (per the author's examples, "call the police on African-American kids who are selling water bottles or making more noise than you deem acceptable") and she never gave permission to have these actions shared publicly online. It's as sordid as an upskirt photo clandestinely taken and shared.

"Your mind reels at the possibility of what they could find: your address, if your voting records are logged online; your cellphone number, if you accidentally included it on a form somewhere; your unflattering selfies at the beginning of your Facebook photo archive."

The fear of losing the Internet hate lottery influences so many of us, not just in choosing what to do or not do on social media, but in locking down or withdrawing from or adding extra privacy safeguards to the rest of our lives. Jillian C. York writes about "How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number: A Gendered Security Issue". (Further instructions from Micah Lee at The Intercept.) Buying a home? Do it through an LLC for privacy -- that used to be for celebrities and I guess you have to prep for being a celebrity now.

Feeling helpless is bad enough. Feeling helpless but knowing that there are things you COULD do, at higher and higher costs, to protect yourself and mitigate the future harm whose risk level is practically impossible to calculate, is a recipe for anxiety, to say the least.
posted by brainwane at 6:39 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


"the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."

Our laws do not protect this right at all. Like- not in the least. In fact, I don't know if it's still the case, but there was a time not long ago where Social Security would literally sell your information to various companies! And if you order a case of spoons online, that info is sold to a bunch of companies and then to data companies who put it online where any stalker or person who wants to get to you despite your wanting to be left alone. As someone who has dealt with stalking in the past I can tell you that the stalker has way more rights protecting their ability to reach you than you have in the right to be left alone. Working at a woman's shelter where my sister was at one point, I learned that even if a woman can prove her ex has attacked her and is still looking for her while she is in hiding, the court will do virtually nothing to the ex who has a restraining order against him but they will still DENY the victim's right to change her social security information so that the attacker cannot reach her. The laws today are such that you have few rights to be left alone even in extreme cases, so I'm not holding my breath for viral video legislation.
posted by fantasticness at 6:47 AM on July 10 [17 favorites]


When my kids were born, I never would have predicted that they'd (at 12) feel more comfortable talking to me and their mother about sex and relationships than about maintaining their privacy on the internet, or that maintaining that privacy would have become so challenging and so important.

Incidentally, I had each one watch this video last night, and it definitely had an impact... to the point that one becane worried, one became sullen, then they both voluntarily put their phones away (I didn't ask) and told me they wanted to go outside and get ice cream as a family instead.
posted by davejay at 6:54 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


From SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis, when the country was still a democracy.

From his 1928 dissent in Olmstead v. United States, a year in which the US was still deeply mired in Jim Crow terrorism, living in the wake of the first Red Scare, radically restricting immigration (and, just four years earlier, had entirely excluded Asian immigrants), etc., etc. There are many, many deeply undemocratic parallels between the American 1920s and today.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:58 AM on July 10 [9 favorites]


Blair is not really a public figure.

I think that going on the Today Show disintegrated that fig leaf. She may not have anticipated any negative consequences of her projecting all this crap onto someone who did her a favor, but there's also this thing. Take a quick gander at her social media and tell me if you see the hint of any kind of acknowledgement that it may not have been the best thing for the woman who was the subject of her public fantasizing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 AM on July 10 [19 favorites]


So many people go "viral" today that no one can even remember who the people involved are after a few days anymore. ... I'm not saying there wouldn't be temporary discomfort or that it wouldn't have great affect in certain cases or times of life, but overall due to the current culture these people will be forgotten soon enough.

I think most of us move on and forget, but I'd bet that more than a few people remember and some especially troubled individuals get fixated. This must result in continued harassment (I almost said "low level", bleh) in some cases.
posted by ODiV at 7:17 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


Stuff like this is disgusting. The lack of basic empathy it must take to sic your followers on a stranger on whom you projected a narrative for the purpose of MOAR CLIKS is kind of staggering. It is like paparazzi for private citizens. Just really, really shitty behavior.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:18 AM on July 10 [26 favorites]


> ArbitraryAndCapricious:
"I'm having a hard time thinking of a straight, white man who has been caught up in this kind of bullshit."

Homophobic bullying, death threats, SWATting, and identity theft seem pretty par for the course. See, e.g. that teenage Target cashier and the "damn, Daniel" guys.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 7:19 AM on July 10 [22 favorites]


Dawson raises the question of whether she's doing exactly to Rosey Blair what Blair did to the woman on the plane. Blair is not really a public figure. She did not expect her tweets to go viral.

I think there's a difference between the "viral nature" of the couple on the plane - who were minding their own business - and the "viral nature" of Blair, who actively posted her Tweets in a publically-accessible forum. Blair may not like the nature of her viral exposure right now - but she actively did something to draw that attention, whereas the couple on the plane did not. Yes, they had Instagram accounts, but they didn't actively get on Twitter all "hey looks like y'all are eavesdropping on us check us out on Instagram to say hi" or whatever. They were minding their own business and Blair forced them into the spotlight, encouraging people to track them down on social media and come back and spread the word about who they were. I think there's a difference there.

I say this as someone who gleefully participated in the "Identify The Charlotte Tiki Torch Nazis In Pictures" thing when that happened - but again, I think the difference there is that if you make a public declaration of any kind, then you have to deal with the fallout of that public declaration, which can indeed include people alerting your boss that "hey, didja know this guy did this on his weekend off?" However, if you're just a person being in public, going about your business, and someone else decides to make you an example without your consent ("Y'all, look at the fugly dress this person has on"), that's not on you, that's on the person who did that to you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 AM on July 10 [49 favorites]


In the future, everyone will be made miserable by social media for 15 minutes the rest of their lives.

In a best-case scenario.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:20 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


On a plane? I wonder what jurisdictions Blair was flying through while filming and recording the conversation of strangers without their consent.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:29 AM on July 10 [15 favorites]


Social media is the new nuclear energy. An incredible tool that could be a powerful force for good in the world if humanity were mature and responsible enough to use it properly, which we absolutely are not.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:29 AM on July 10 [24 favorites]


So many people go "viral" today that no one can even remember who the people involved are after a few days anymore.

It only takes one stalker/harasser/asshole to really mess up your life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:32 AM on July 10 [41 favorites]


Barely a day goes by that I don't think of Camper Van Beethoven's "Tania"—

"How I long for the days when you came to liberate us from boredom
From driving around from the hours between five and seven in the evening
My beloved Tania,
We carry your gun deep within our hearts
For no better reason than our lives have no meaning
And we want to be on television" —

and, in fact, I'm thinking about it right now.

I watched this develop on twitter and I was aghast at how thoughtless and self-absorbed you'd have to be to try to turn two harmless strangers into your own personal romcom. That they went even farther, into actual stalking, is just fucking boggling.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:32 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


I guess it should be noted that there was a MetaFilter FPP and thread on this episode last week, which was deleted pretty quickly, for obvious reasons.

Most of us are old hands at this internet thing; we go directly to the backlash.
posted by notyou at 7:35 AM on July 10 [11 favorites]


Also this is a good example of why switching seats on a plane when someone asks is almost always a losing proposition.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:38 AM on July 10 [36 favorites]


I think there's a difference between the "viral nature" of the couple on the plane - who were minding their own business - and the "viral nature" of Blair, who actively posted her Tweets in a publically-accessible forum. Blair may not like the nature of her viral exposure right now - but she actively did something to draw that attention, whereas the couple on the plane did not.
Ok, but one of the examples in the article is the short piece about dating with herpes that the author published on the website of the magazine where she was interning. She agreed to publish the thing. She put herself out there. But she thought she was publishing it on a magazine website, where it would be ephemeral and not seen by too many people. She did not expect it to get picked up by the international media, who would discuss it in detail in their print editions (and thus their online archives) next to a picture of her that they grabbed from social media.

So was she, as a 22-year-old magazine intern putting a thing essentially on a blog, a public person or a private one? I don't think it's as easy as saying that any woman who agrees to any publicity is then a public person and totally fair game.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:45 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


going viral terrifies me.

I have just enough Twitter followers to start to tip over into the "boy, there sure are a lot of Nazis on Twitter" category. I have 15.6k followers and every few months must spend and entire afternoon doing cleanup where I block the Nazis who are broadcasting that I should be harassed to their friends, and then block all their friends, so that I am not swarmed.

I can't imagine what it is like to have to deal with several million. I can't imagine what it is like to deal with several million uninvited. I can't imagine what it is like to deal with several million uninvited who all think it is hilarious to violate your privacy.
posted by maxsparber at 7:49 AM on July 10 [38 favorites]


I think the difference there is that if you make a public declaration of any kind, then you have to deal with the fallout of that public declaration

While I have no interest in standing up for the privacy of the tiki torch morons, going after people you don't like for their public statements makes it difficult to counter the same behavior for others to do who may have radically different ideas of what is acceptable values to hold. That others may find something I deem an acceptable or beneficial action objectionable and use social media to amplify reaction to some image, perhaps without even adequate context, is frightening, see the way the Parkland kids were treated for example. There is no easy way for the person to counter that attention, to provide context or give explanation that can offset something that's gone viral. It can have enormous consequences.

For the tiki jerks I may be fine with that since their values are so alien to my own, but that doesn't make me feel comfortable about the dynamic overall since it isn't always so clear what the circumstance is or what the long term effects might be for so many others. Seeing brief snippets of actions shown on social media used to judge people's lives as a whole is deeply worrisome to me because it lacks accountability or basic foundation in deeper truth.

The endless fascination around "celebrity" and fame just furthers the idea that everyone is subject to summary judgment like we're all part of a reality tv show now. I'm not sure what can be done about it or even how to frame my thoughts on it since it has been used for seemingly good purposes as well as bad, but with the understanding that "good" and "bad" are my ethical constructs, not universals. I don't know how kids growing up today view it or how they'll deal with the repercussions of an open life that could draw a mass audience at any moment, I just know that as someone who grew up in an earlier era, the whole prospect of life under the public eye is terrifying.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:00 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]


All these people who "mind other people's business" are really sad individuals who have so little ability of their own that they can only survive by poaching on other people's lives.

I might even suggest that this applies to many journalists as well, considering the abominable way they behave on occasions.
posted by Burn_IT at 8:10 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Ok. So, taking for granted that the platforms who enable this shit will never do the right thing on their own, what would effective privacy and anti-stalking/anti-harassment legislation look like?

Like what could we enact at a state level, in, say, New York* or California or wherever, that would be enforceable and not just become a weapon for more harassment of the marginalized? Is this a thing that exists somewhere? Has someone tried to come up with test legislation?

I’m having fantasies of some special Blue state task force showing up at a harasser's home and taking them back to Blue state to face prosecution. I’d like to believe it’s at least theoretically possible.

*New York has a garbage state government though, so until we fix that, maybe...not us.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:15 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


It's scary 'cause it's true!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:18 AM on July 10


> I mean, at the end of the piece, Dawson raises the question of whether she's doing exactly to Rosey Blair what Blair did to the woman on the plane. Blair is not really a public figure. She did not expect her tweets to go viral. She initially got a positive response, but she's getting a lot of backlash now. I think that wishing exemplary punishment on her may be part of the same phenomenon that this article is discussing.

She raises the question only to (correctly) dismiss it. It is quite clear that Blair is actively seeking publicity, and doing so by harming someone else. Did you read the bit where she egged her followers on to doxx the woman? She deserves to crash and burn (and no, I don't mean that literally, for pete's sake, I'm just expressing my fully merited disgust). Try not to engage in false equivalence.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on July 10 [28 favorites]


When the original twitter thread was posted on metafilter, it garnered a dozen comments along the lines of "wow this is pretty fucked" and got deleted within a half hour. This is a good website!
posted by theodolite at 8:29 AM on July 10 [54 favorites]


Recently I read a book called Jane Welsh Carlyle and Her Victorian World. Jane Welsh Carlyle wrote fascinating letters, where she told anecdotes and gave opinions about her observations of those around her. She sent the letters to friends who then shared them, and this was all common and expected practice. The letters are quite entertaining. The people in them are all dead now so they aren't squirming now, but some probably squirmed then, when they knew they were under that eye.

So this type of writing is not new. But its reach is instantly greater, content from many sources can be instantly collated, and millions of strangers can jump in and comment. It's like Jane Welch Carlyle's letters went asymptotic and turned into cancer, and created a situation hardly anyone is prepared for.
posted by elizilla at 8:51 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


Rosey just apologized.
posted by signal at 8:52 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


So was she, as a 22-year-old magazine intern putting a thing essentially on a blog, a public person or a private one? I don't think it's as easy as saying that any woman who agrees to any publicity is then a public person and totally fair game.
...
...going after people you don't like for their public statements makes it difficult to counter the same behavior for others to do who may have radically different ideas of what is acceptable values to hold. That others may find something I deem an acceptable or beneficial action objectionable and use social media to amplify reaction to some image, perhaps without even adequate context, is frightening, see the way the Parkland kids were treated for example. There is no easy way for the person to counter that attention, to provide context or give explanation that can offset something that's gone viral. It can have enormous consequences.


...Fair points both. However - I was mainly trying to distinguish between "I am viral because of something I spread throughout the world" and "I am viral because of something someone else spread throughout the world". It's a question of "who has the agency" for me, not so much the conditions of that agency.

This is not to say, let me add, that I necessarily think "if you post something on the internet you deserve whatever it is you get". There are some clear-cut examples like the tiki Nazis, where most people can agree that they suck, but for most cases it is indeed a nuanced thing, and the online vigilante force can go too far.

It's just that as bad as it gets when the vigilante force goes too far over something you post yourself, consider how much worse it would be if the vigilante force goes too far over something that someone else posted about you - and people are targeting you.

But the counterargument to that, I've just realized - "Permit Patty" and "Barbecue Becky", who arguably were not asking to have video of their affronts posted on Twitter. Someone else other than them spread the word about what they did. They were in public, but weren't making a public declaration, so to speak, and they got spanked for it.

...Gah. Now I don't know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


The dark side of ‘Plane Bae’ and turning strangers into social media content is a really good article on this too and goes further into Investigating how the man in the story was treated so starkly different to the female by the media and narrative wanting intrusive mob.
posted by Faintdreams at 8:55 AM on July 10 [9 favorites]


"Going viral terrifies me"
Meh. So many people go "viral" today that no one can even remember who the people involved are after a few days anymore.


Women who get put into the spotlight like this have to move or increase their personal security, their families get harassed, they get swatted, they get fired from their jobs, they have to leave social media which may be a facet of how they make a living, they get taken on as fun destruction projects by assholes who are mad that women won't sleep with them, because there is absolutely nothing worse in this world than a woman who sticks her head up above the parapet, willingly or no.

And the police and FBI often shrug and pretend not to know what Twitter is and often revictimize the women - making them read the death threats out loud to them, explain the photos of mutilated animals and child pornography they get sent via email and DM because it's funny to watch victims try to do that, judges refuse to give them restraining orders (assuming there is any way to serve one) because "it's just the internet and it'll all be over in a few days" when entire secret messageboards are being spun up to keep the harassment going.

Just because it's over for you doesn't mean it's actually over for the victims, or for men who really really hate women.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:58 AM on July 10 [106 favorites]


They were in public, but weren't making a public declaration, so to speak

Eh. I'm comfortable calling the recruitment of (theoretically) public servants in service of your own petty racist agenda a public declaration.

And the police and FBI often shrug and pretend not to know what Twitter is and often revictimize the women

This is part of why I'm wondering about state level legislation.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:03 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


It seems to me that we're unfortunately learning why so many famous people struggle with--and often die from--substance abuse, have all sorts of personal relationship challenges, and generally end up all kinds of fucked up, because of what we've long called something like 'what fame can do to people.'

No version of it is healthy for a human being, and those famous people who have learned to handle it and still have healthy, meaningful lives, possess a virtuosic skill set that apparently now is really important to us all and should be codified and made widely available. I can't believe that this is a skill set that needs to be widely learned, but that is the world that social media has created: real life is now actually, literally a performance, and the world may start looking at YOU at any time, for any reason. And while things like public shaming are often earned by terrible behavior, it's the degree that's so new and different.

Being locked up in stocks in the town square for a couple of days so a few dozen people can insult and harass you is an order of magnitude different from millions of people upending every single aspect of your personal and professional life, with no sense of scale or proportionality to what you may have done. If you spit in someone's face while they're locked up in the stocks, you can see who it is, you can tell how much others have done the same, you can read the sign around their neck and know their crime, and thus have some sense of how much you want to heap on that person. Individual empathy and senses of justice keep actual public shaming proportional--but online? Who knows, I could be the first or the millionth person to help punish somebody, and there is no cost or consequence to me for adding to the pile, so no ability for us collectively to say 'well, OK, that's enough.' It is punishment without scale or end, for any random behavior that may or may not have been intended to be public, but was done in public (and, as in this case, for behavior that's just people innocently interacting in the world).

It's a world where we took a media personality/reality show TV star and made him president of the U.S., so I guess this kind of essential inversion isn't surprising as much as it's another (large) data point, clearly outlining where we all have put ourselves, culturally: the stories we tell and want to be real are more important than what is actually real, more important than any actual human being; audience-seeking is normalized behavior; so we are projecting our stories out into the world, with disastrous results--and certainly without consent.

Everybody should read this book.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:05 AM on July 10 [20 favorites]


In Slate's Dear Prudence (MeFite fave Daniel Mallory Ortberg), there's a correspondent who's facing potential blowback from having taken a picture of an overweight coworker and posted it on a site making fun of such people. (Search or scroll down for "Shannon".) I found this via an article in Lifehacker discussing it and this "Plane Bae" thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:14 AM on July 10 [11 favorites]


...Gah. Now I don't know.

Yeah, I definitely wasn't calling you out, your comment just fit the uneasy ambivalence I feel about all of this.

I worry about the effect this will have on feelings of shame, for good or ill. I am concerned about how the internet makes permanent things heretofore of the moment and how people can get beyond a past that never goes away. How will people grow or learn from their mistakes when their past is always there to see and be judged? When what may have seemed normal in one time and place is later seen as distasteful how will that play out for later viewers?

I can't help but feel we are facing a sea change of moral appraisal in how we view media and that is being carried over to how we view others as well in ways that are hard to fully imagine. It feels like this moment is being defined as a battle of morality and I'm not sure how that plays out where it will end up being a clearly better world in the end. That may speak as much to values of my own that will end up proving outdated in time, which isn't a comforting notion, but does at least allow that it's my perspective that is faulty and not necessarily the times and those actively pursuing a "social media" existence.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:22 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


She deserves to crash and burn (and no, I don't mean that literally, for pete's sake, I'm just expressing my fully merited disgust). Try not to engage in false equivalence.
I'll try not to engage in false equivalency if you'll try not to engage in self-righteous condescension. Deal?

The author thinks that Blair merits condemnation. You think that she merits exemplary punishment. Did you stop, even for a second, to think about what exemplary punishment looks like for someone like Rosey Blair, who is a young, beautiful fat woman whose entire public presence, such as it is, comes from publishing pictures on Instagram of herself being beautiful and confident and fat? I can tell you what "crashing and burning" looks like for women like her: it looks like incessant body shaming interrupted by occasional rape threats. That is what you are wishing on her, whether you are aware of it or not. And maybe you think that she deserves it, because she's guilty and the woman on the plane meets your standards for innocence. But I'm not so sure. I would like to think that women don't deserve that, even when we have the temerity to exist in semi-public and even when we fuck up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:27 AM on July 10 [15 favorites]


Everybody should read this book.

I dunno, I just read You Are Not a Gadget by the same guy and he seemed to have a pretty big blind spot about how the internet makes it okay to hate women. His section about trolls and includes examples which are all of women being harassed and even driven to suicide. He even makes an allusion to Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", but then he kinda shrugs and goes on off on the most earnest dude-bro explanation of trolls by way of alpha-dog evolutionary psychology garbage. For an internet visionary he seemed comically unable or unwilling to see the threads connecting the words that he himself put down on paper.
posted by peeedro at 9:30 AM on July 10 [17 favorites]


It's a tangent maybe, but I haven't noticed a mention of this: The doxxing of Charlottesville Nazis was a case of treating that group to a taste of it's own medicine.

Now, you can argue that makes doxxing OK or you can argue that it's wrong regardless. Either way, it's a powerful moral, emotional, tactical circumstance that does not figure in most doxxing situations, from GamerGate to Plane Bae. It doesn't have to have any specific connection to what the Nazis believe or advocate for, or the extremity of their beliefs, etc.

I have no problem drawing a distinction between doxxing the doxx-happy and doxxing normal people.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:30 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


The article that faintdreams posted above is really excellent and addresses the messiness mentioned above about the not so great side of shaming people who are doing things we as a society do not approve of.

But as we surveil each other in profoundly coercive ways, we also risk — as is often the case with informal forms of informal power — replicating the coercive power of the state itself. Surveillance disciplines our behavior, as any minority who’s passed through a security checkpoint in America can tell you in detail. It creates certain behaviors by design, most notably compliance, the willingness to do anything to avoid being hurt. This is all to escape the Lidless Eye unseen, or perhaps just to escape the TSA agent’s grope with some measure of dignity intact. We have the capacity to inflict this disciplinary regime on each other, as well, for good and for ill.

I have often been grateful I didn't come of age during the rise of twitter and smartphones. There are very few records of my failed attempts at being a decent human being. And I don't personally want to live and try to operate in a society where profound public shaming by millions is the rule of the day. Sure there is a part of me that gets a certain pleasure when racists and people I fundamentally disagree with are shamed, but the amount of pleasure I get from that is ultimately outweighed by the shaming of people who share the same values I have (see GamerGate as an example of this). There must be better ways to course correct people than mob rule.
posted by Kimberly at 9:32 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


There needs to be some serious reassessment of ethics, manners, laws, etc., when going online, especially as regards other people's privacy.
A lot of it is common sense.
Just as you wouldn't, for example, grab some stranger's phone and start talking into it because you where listening in on their conversation and have something to add, why would you think it's OK to take pictures and video of two strangers who may or may not be starting a relationship and post it online?
This should be taught in 3rd grade or thereabouts.
posted by signal at 9:33 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I just read You Are Not a Gadget by the same guy and he seemed to have a pretty big blind spot about how the internet makes it okay to hate women.

Almost as big of a blind spot as claiming everyone should just delete their social media accounts, when these things have become necessary for lots of marginalized communities.

There is no "skill set" that can save you from harassment, and positing that there is is just fancy victim blaming. Protecting citizens from the violence and destruction of harassment is like...what the state was fucking invented for. We just don't do it for women, POC, queer people, etc etc. It's a political problem, not one that will be solved by tech overlords or opting out of modern society.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:39 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]


Rosey just apologized.
posted by signal at 11:52 AM on July 10 [+] [!]


I notice all the posts are still up though. Her apology is bullshit without action.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:42 AM on July 10 [28 favorites]


Ugh, every angle of this is awful and creepy . Also, I love how Blair continues uses the woman's name in her apology.
posted by kimberussell at 9:43 AM on July 10 [8 favorites]


I just can't square
I write about my personal life, and sometimes I get paid to do so. I go on podcasts and give interviews and appear on the occasional poorly rated television show. My Twitter account is verified but I have less than 20,000 followers. I’ve had a handful of short stories published in anthologies by indie houses, all erotic and not available at major book retailers. I’m slowly outlining a memoir. I have no Wikipedia page, but my website earned a quarter of a million views last year.
with
Was it when I decided to become a public figure? Would it change your mind if I told you I’ve never wanted to be one?
so I am unsure about this author's definition of public figure, because it sure sounds like she's made a lot of choices that are leading her right into it.
posted by jeather at 9:57 AM on July 10 [12 favorites]


Did you stop, even for a second, to think about what exemplary punishment looks like for someone like Rosey Blair, who is a young, beautiful fat woman whose entire public presence, such as it is, comes from publishing pictures on Instagram of herself being beautiful and confident and fat?

Does her identity as a confident, fat, beautiful woman give her the right to have made a public, viral spectacle out of non-consenting strangers to pump up her own Likes and other social media metrics? I hope not.
posted by theorique at 10:01 AM on July 10 [48 favorites]


There is no "skill set" that can save you from harassment, and positing that there is is just fancy victim blaming.

This is a strawman, no comment in this thread has posited that--certainly not mine. My comment only mentioned need of a possible "skill set" that some famous people appear to have learned, that may be helpful for regular individuals to know, so that we have some measure of defending ourselves should this happen to us, precisely because, as you say, the state is not doing its job of protecting people adequately.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:03 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


[I deleted some comments earlier but will now make explicit the reason -- discussion goes better here if we can avoid putting words into other Mefites' mouths. It's fine to just say what you think, and there's no need to cast other people here as holders of terrible views ("well maybe YOU think X but I sure don't" style) to do it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:04 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]


guys I'm starting to think the internet is actually bad
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:10 AM on July 10 [41 favorites]


I think the author’s examination of what occured with her Women’s Health article doesn’t apply here. Media outlets have shared content for decades. It’s also likely that she doesn’t own the article she wrote. I don’t think you can expect the work you do under the umbrella of paid and published writer/journalist to stay private.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:17 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Intent doesn't matter. Harm matters. If you commit harm, you take steps to redress it. An apology is a start, but it's just a start.
posted by maxsparber at 10:23 AM on July 10 [18 favorites]


Rosey just apologized.

And called the woman by name, which was unnecessary and only continues the "I'm making you public" aspect.
posted by Lexica at 10:25 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]


I already got "Oh but it's so *cute*!" and "You're just a repressed stick-in-the mud..." on twitter for suggesting that this is a privacy nightmare. One was from a doctor, surely someone who's supposed to have a sense of boundaries.
posted by sneebler at 10:35 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Does her identity as a confident, fat, beautiful woman give her the right to have made a public, viral spectacle out of non-consenting strangers to pump up her own Likes and other social media metrics?
Obviously not. But thousands and thousands of people retweeted that story and thought it was sweet, not creepy. The point isn't that it got posted in the first place. The point is that it went viral, which isn't the work of one person. I don't think this is just about the bad behavior of one woman, who must be punished. This is about ideas about privacy and publicity that are widely shared and acted on.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:36 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Things go viral all the time, but this was *intended* to go viral. This is a woman with a lot of followers who spread it as far and wide as she could. If she was someone with 10 friends who posted it once and oops someone spread it, I would be sympathetic, but if you have as many followers as she does and you post something as invasive as this, its like setting a fire. Arson is arson. I hope she deletes her account.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:40 AM on July 10 [19 favorites]


If she hadn't explicitly asked her followers to doxx the woman, I might have some sympathy for Rosey, but as it stands her apology is pretty much "it's easier to ask for permish than forgivz."

And it very much is part of the point that it got posted in the first place, an intentional, performative act that was critical to (and supportive of) the subsequent virality.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:43 AM on July 10 [25 favorites]


> The author thinks that Blair merits condemnation. You think that she merits exemplary punishment. Did you stop, even for a second, to think about what exemplary punishment looks like for someone like Rosey Blair, who is a young, beautiful fat woman whose entire public presence, such as it is, comes from publishing pictures on Instagram of herself being beautiful and confident and fat? I can tell you what "crashing and burning" looks like for women like her: it looks like incessant body shaming interrupted by occasional rape threats. That is what you are wishing on her, whether you are aware of it or not.

Fine, I withdraw the phrasing that made it seem I was calling for exemplary punishment (which I wasn't). Obviously I am not "wishing for" incessant body shaming interrupted by occasional rape threats, and it's shitty of you to suggest I am. I do not withdraw my loathing for her behavior, which is not markedly diminished by her apology (which I note is followed by, and probably intended to encourage, a job offer from Buzzfeed).
posted by languagehat at 10:50 AM on July 10 [15 favorites]


Obviously not. But thousands and thousands of people retweeted that story and thought it was sweet, not creepy.

Sure, the story is sweet, not creepy. As a story. With characters who can't notice that we're all watching them and becoming invested.

RPF is not okay, and especially not RPF that involves giggling over at the people whose lives you are using to write yourself a story in your head and asking for their comments on it or their investment in your weird made-up story. That's what she did there.
posted by sciatrix at 10:52 AM on July 10 [13 favorites]


I'm reminded of the ever-popular world of revenge porn.

There was a young woman, perhaps a decade ago -- I won't say her real name, because she deserves some rest, but most of you will know exactly of whom I speak -- who recorded a set of nude videos for her boyfriend out of love, which he then turned around and put on the Internet with her name on them after they broke up. Let's call her Lila, as a pseudonym. Lila's name became world-famous in a heartbeat, permanently linked to the actions she performed on camera. I'm sure she spent the next decade or so sighing, yes, I'm THAT Lila when she met people or presented ID and received a raised eyebrow and a leer in return.

There are those who would say, hey, it's her own fault; she posed nude, on camera, and gave it to someone. But she clearly had zero intentions of it ever becoming public, or being seen by anyone other than her paramour, and his bad judgment and abusive actions made her a public figure overnight.

Now, apparently, "getting on a plane and having a conversation with someone you're stuck sitting next to" is the new self-taken nude photography, the act that supposedly renders you fair game for public consumption. And in our celebrity-obsessed world, there are people who are going to remember this woman and everything that she "did" on the plane (with whisper-down-the-lane levels of escalation) for the rest of her life.

Delete your career.
posted by delfin at 10:52 AM on July 10 [16 favorites]


what do we do with our righteous loathing, though? where does it go, and how are people who perpetrate this shit supposed to make it better after they fuck up?

I hope she deletes her account.

ok, but is this sufficient? what would effectively de-incentivize this kind of thing?
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:53 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


ok, but is this sufficient? what would effectively de-incentivize this kind of thing?

it would probably help if there weren't entire clickbait industries based around picking up viral stories like this on social media and further broadening their sharing, unpredictably offering financial incentives to people who can produce really good ones.

I mean.

I'm just throwing that out there.
posted by sciatrix at 10:55 AM on July 10 [25 favorites]


which I note is followed by, and probably intended to encourage, a job offer from Buzzfeed

The Buzzfeed job offers are bogus, by the way. In her initial thread she mentioned half-jokingly that she would be amenable to working for Buzzfeed, so people are using that as a way to mock her in her Twitter replies.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:59 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


"I am unsure about this author's definition of public figure, because it sure sounds like she's made a lot of choices that are leading her right into it."

Yeah, definition of public figure is a good question there. However, if you're a reporter and anything you do is online now, then.... yeah, you kind of are one, albeit in a minor way. For now. Until the stalkers and SWAT teams come for you.

I have more to say about this but I am gonna call my shrink and freak out about things like this now instead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:04 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


ok, but is this sufficient? what would effectively de-incentivize this kind of thing?

well, there's a bunch of systems at play here:

at a super high-level, attention economics and a viral story like this being seen as a route into a paying gig - see Blair's (now-deleted) angling for a job at Buzzfeed, which is super difficult to deal with because pull on that thread and you're kind of attempting to dismantle western capitalism (not a bad thing!)

at *nearly* as high a level, and very much interrelated, maybe not designing systems (as suggested above) that attempt to reduce friction in the sharing of information when we know (with experience!) the kind of things humans like to do (ie: gossip) and what can happen when that behavior occurs at scale.

and at a micro level? Don't pass it on. Stop, take a breath and don't encourage the behavior.
posted by danhon at 11:15 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


what would effectively de-incentivize this kind of thing?

massive civil and criminal liability for everyone involved?

I mean probably there are a bunch of problems with that, but there are a bunch of problems with everything, and no one seems to be talking up vigilante squads, much to my personal disappointment.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:17 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


Rosey's use of the photos in conjunction with the caption app that looked like headlines from The Sun is what really grossed me out here.

Someone brought this up pretty early in the original story - if this had just been a series of tweets without pictures, the story would still have been told and people could have gone "awww" without the degree of privacy invasion here.

There are still a bunch of identifying details (personal trainers from Dallas going to a specific destination, for example), but I don't think the Twitter Rom Com Fan Mob would have gone to such lengths to find their identities, and Rosey wouldn't have gotten all whipped up in the frenzy to encourage it either. What do you think?
posted by queensissy at 11:23 AM on July 10 [12 favorites]


if this had just been a series of tweets without pictures

yes, certainly. anybody can tell stories or spread gossip about strangers as long as they're not accompanied by creeper photos and identifying details. the stories don't even have to be true. and in fact, if they are verifiably true it's a good sign you've shared too much.

a good contrast to this gross mess is that lin-manuel miranda story everyone loved a day or two ago, where somebody offended him, realized they shouldn't have, apologized, apologized again unprompted, said Can we forget this whole conversation, to which LMM said Yeah, sure. and then turned around and proceeded to not only not forget it but fancy it up into a heartwarming anecdote of Teaching a Moral Lesson to Bad Theater People for the twitter nations.

this, I call a dick move, because he could have told the truth ("ha, no, you better believe I won't forget it, let alone forgive it, not when I can make a good story out of it"). BUT it was not creepy in the least, because nobody can guess from his story who that person was, what they look like, what their name is, or where to find them. so it's completely fine even if you don't adore him for his telling of it. and I think the line is very clear.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:40 AM on July 10 [19 favorites]


It is also worth noting that while Rosey hasn't deleted the story itself, she has deleted the tweet where she called for the doxxing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:41 AM on July 10 [7 favorites]


and at a micro level? Don't pass it on. Stop, take a breath and don't encourage the behavior.

Well, there is also the other aspect that I feel is related to that level and that hasn't been brought up yet: Internet addiction disorder. Of course, the existence of IAD is controversial and under much debate.
posted by FJT at 11:45 AM on July 10


Almost as big of a blind spot as claiming everyone should just delete their social media accounts, when these things have become necessary for lots of marginalized communities.

Just an aside, but that's a misunderstanding of his argument. He acknowledges that some people are not in a position to delete their accounts, and I think he even specifically acknowledges that there are marginalized communities who rely on social media. His suggestion is directed at people who are better situated to delete their accounts, like people with strong social networks outside of the internet. The basic idea is that it takes a critical mass of people leaving social media sites in order to create new communities where people will have more safety and control, and people who are wealthy and comfortable with strong in-person social networks are the people who should lead the charge because they won't suffer for it. That may still be something people will disagree with, but at the very least he's not making as much of a blanket statement as the title implies.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:47 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


> The Buzzfeed job offers are bogus, by the way. In her initial thread she mentioned half-jokingly that she would be amenable to working for Buzzfeed, so people are using that as a way to mock her in her Twitter replies.

Oh, I didn't realize that. Sigh... I really am not a citizen of this new online world, just an interested and occasionally appalled spectator. Thanks for clarifying!
posted by languagehat at 11:54 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Remember when the thing people worried most about on the internet was getting Slashdotted?

I know you mean this in a cutesy old-times way, but as a woman who's been on the internet since 1990, yeah, actually I do remember, and it was not at all cutesy. Rape and death threats, and stalkers, existed before the internet, and rapidly found a new foothold there.

One of my very first "oh crap" internet experiences as a 17-year-old (this would have been in 1993, for those of y'all calculating the cutesy old-timeyness of the anecdote) was getting a visit from a stalker several states away (and I lived in western Oregon, so anything more than three states away was roundabouts half the US away), unannounced, while I was alone.

There are Reasons I deleted a heckuva lot of my accounts and no longer write my blog. I wasn't even that much of a celebrity, just generally well-known... and a woman.
posted by fraula at 1:25 PM on July 10 [25 favorites]


ok, but is this sufficient? what would effectively de-incentivize this kind of thing?

I find it interesting that no one else has noted that an airplane is not a public space. Listening to commentary by directors and producers of television shows and movies talking about some of the difficulties of filming on location made me somewhat aware that this is a thing. The airplane is the private property of the airline. While most airlines permit photography to record a personal event, this does not fall under that definition. One article about legal issues for photographers says:
United’s photography policy, which is typical for a U.S. airline, notes that taking pictures or video on its aircraft is permitted “only for capturing personal events.” It goes on to note that “photography or recording of other customers or airline personnel without their express prior consent is strictly prohibited."
From the same article:
A property release is also necessary if you want to shoot on-location and that location is on private property.

Not having permission to shoot on private property counts as trespassing.

Keep in mind that “open to the public” does not necessarily mean “public property”. Malls, movie theaters, theme parks, museums, airports are all examples of places that are private property but open to the public. If you want to take photos at places like these, you must get a property release.

Regarding a person's likeness in another article:
Publishing or selling photos, however, has to do with publicity laws and a person’s “likeness.” All of us, famous or otherwise, have the right to protect our likeness. But our likeness simply isn’t a picture of a person. Rather, our likeness, in the legal sense, means a representation of us used to promote ideas, products, services, or things.

That distinction is pretty important. If you met a celebrity on the street and asked to take a picture with them, you could actually sell that picture to a newspaper or publication. That celebrity isn’t promoting anything (after all, you aren’t using their likeness to sell sneakers). They’re simply another person, on the street, who posed for a picture.
But were you to use that same picture in an advertisement for your website, product, or idea, you’d be violating that person’s use of likeness rights. They didn’t agree to promote your website, product, or idea, so you can’t simply use the picture in any way you see fit.
In my opinion, Rosey Blair is using these photographs to publicize her media presence. The woman in these photographs did not consent to that. I think there needs to be sufficient financial penalty to make Rosey and others think twice about using photographs this way. Not that I am generally in favor of making an example of any particular individual.

If she had done the story without photographs and without sufficient detail to identify the persons in the photos, I would see it differently. What is one of her doxxing followers pulls a SWAT prank and the woman is killed? Doesn't she bear some responsibility?

Of course this is probably just a reflection of the manners and courtesy I grew up with.
posted by Altomentis at 1:54 PM on July 10 [25 favorites]


Did you stop, even for a second, to think about what exemplary punishment looks like for someone like Rosey Blair, who is a young, beautiful fat woman whose entire public presence, such as it is, comes from publishing pictures on Instagram of herself being beautiful and confident and fat?

Yeah the whole thing is a horror show for everyone. She deserves some kind of consequences for recklessly shining the internet spotlight on these people. But nobody deserves the only kind of consequences the internet has for women who are held up in public as needing to be punished.

(Sorta like there are not many crimes that deserve the treatment inmates get in a lot of American prisons.)
posted by straight at 2:12 PM on July 10 [7 favorites]


"yes, certainly. anybody can tell stories or spread gossip about strangers as long as they're not accompanied by creeper photos and identifying details. the stories don't even have to be true. and in fact, if they are verifiably true it's a good sign you've shared too much."

"a good contrast to this gross mess is that lin-manuel miranda story everyone loved a day or two ago, where somebody offended him, realized they shouldn't have, apologized, apologized again unprompted, said Can we forget this whole conversation, to which LMM said Yeah, sure. and then turned around and proceeded to not only not forget it but fancy it up into a heartwarming anecdote of Teaching a Moral Lesson to Bad Theater People for the twitter nations.
this, I call a dick move, because he could have told the truth ("ha, no, you better believe I won't forget it, let alone forgive it, not when I can make a good story out of it"). BUT it was not creepy in the least, because nobody can guess from his story who that person was, what they look like, what their name is, or where to find them. so it's completely fine even if you don't adore him for his telling of it. and I think the line is very clear."


I concur with all of this. Seriously, if Rosey had just told this story at The Moth, we'd fucking love it, instead of telling it online with pictures in such a way that the parties involved can be tracked down and stalked. I thought what LMM did was kinda mean actually after the guy asked him not to (and I'm a fan), but at least nobody can find that poor schmuck from that.

"Women who get put into the spotlight like this have to move or increase their personal security, their families get harassed, they get swatted, they get fired from their jobs, they have to leave social media which may be a facet of how they make a living, they get taken on as fun destruction projects by assholes who are mad that women won't sleep with them, because there is absolutely nothing worse in this world than a woman who sticks her head up above the parapet, willingly or no."

Yeah. This. On the one hand, I suspect having no social media would make it less easy to stalk and harass, but some people can't quit it either. (I have a few social media things that I've abandoned and never posted anything on, but I probably can't physically delete the damn things and but what if something requires that I have it?) But if ANY woman gets found out as existing to the general public, it's time to stalk her. This is fucking terrifying.
I truly don't know what the hell to do about the situation. I'm terrified of this happening to me. I want to do things that would involve showing off, but if I do, someone like Rosey may come along and even if she's well meaning, there goes my life and ability to make a living.

This is a thing I talk about with my therapist a lot, but there's no answer other than to hide yourself in a hole, and thanks to fucking Twitter you can't even do that. Accidental stalking can happen at any time.

"I can't believe that this is a skill set that needs to be widely learned, but that is the world that social media has created: real life is now actually, literally a performance, and the world may start looking at YOU at any time, for any reason."

Yeah, and you don't even have to be doing anything bad! Helen didn't do anything except exist in Rosey's view and yet here come the stalkers and death threats. Jeebus H. Motherfucking Christ, the Internet is now awful.

How do we solve this, other than nuking all phones and social media from orbit? You can't stop anyone from doing anything.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:13 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


On a related note, NYT article: How One Tweet About Nicki Minaj Spiraled Into Internet Chaos

“You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content?” Ms. Thompson wrote to her then 14,000 or so followers. “No silly” stuff, she added with an expletive. “Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed.”
What happened next was one part dystopian sci-fi, and one part an everyday occurrence in pop-culture circles online: The Nicki Minaj stans — or superfans — attacked. Then, galvanizing them further, Ms. Minaj chimed in, too.
In the week since publicizing the acidic messages she received directly from Ms. Minaj, whose next album, “Queen,” is scheduled for release in August, Ms. Thompson said she has received thousands of vicious, derogatory missives across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email and even her personal cellphone, calling her every variation of stupid and ugly, or worse. Some of the anonymous horde included pictures Ms. Thompson once posted on Instagram of her 4-year-old daughter, while others told her to kill herself. Ms. Thompson also lost her internship at an entertainment blog in the chaotic days that followed, and she is now considering seeing a therapist."
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Ms. Thompson said through tears in an interview, calling herself “physically drained” and “mentally depleted.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 2:37 PM on July 10 [13 favorites]




I had my birthday party this weekend and yeah, there was a lot of silliness and posting to Instagram. I did talk about how I need to take more photos of people but it's my instinct not to overall. Like, it's one thing if I take a selfie and post it -- I'm controlling that. But I don't necessarily expect other people to feel OK with me putting their photos online, even if they are friends and they have their own social media accounts (and even then, I tend to ask first and generally not tag people).

And when I've overheard funny things, I generally wait until after the fact to post it (so no live Tweeting) and tend to be a bit obscure about the details. And I also try to think if I'm being cruel in sharing it. Sometimes people just say things that are genuinely absurd or delightful and I just love that -- I hope it's more I'm laughing "with" them and not "at" them (but it's hard to know sometimes so I try to err on the side of "don't do it").

I'm fine with putting my life out there, to the extent that I do. But that's my choice. I'm not going to decide that for others.
posted by darksong at 4:13 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


It looks Rosey has deleted the tweets.
posted by asteria at 4:36 PM on July 10


Now, apparently, "getting on a plane and having a conversation with someone you're stuck sitting next to" is the new self-taken nude photography, the act that supposedly renders you fair game for public consumption.

And this is why some of us are paranoid about being in public, at all times, forever.
posted by corb at 6:11 PM on July 10 [8 favorites]


This is a thing I talk about with my therapist a lot

YUP.

The cost of this stuff isn’t just born by the direct victims. I’ve stopped noticing all the different ways I limit my life and make myself smaller to avoid the misogyny machine, but I can still feel it weighing on me, like the world’s shittiest...weight vest, I guess, since that’s an actual thing.

It’s a cognitive and emotional tax that we have to pay every day for existing, because we know we’re powerless to do anything if the eye of fucking MRA Sauron falls on us, because no one will care. It’s always open season, so...hide in the herd.

It’s low grade terrorism, all the time, and it does keep us in line. It does.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:47 PM on July 10 [30 favorites]


United’s photography policy, which is typical for a U.S. airline, notes that taking pictures or video on its aircraft is permitted “only for capturing personal events.” It goes on to note that “photography or recording of other customers or airline personnel without their express prior consent is strictly prohibited."

On a bit of a tangent - this makes me wonder if the video of Dr. Dao being dragged off the United flight could have been used against the defendant. My instinct says that the nuances in the case would have been so controversial that this legal technicality wouldn't have been useful.

I've taken photographs in a Safeway of people with pet dogs in the store to send to the health department. I usually did it discreetly but the one time someone saw me he told me I couldn't take his photo. I justified it by saying he was in a public space and his image was fair game. I have no idea if this was true but I also had no intention of finding out his name or anything about him or sharing his photo with anyone but the health department.

There's a big gap between taking a random photo and taking a random photo and making it "go viral" because of your own perceived drama. I believe no one has the right to send a photo of someone else out into the aetherworld without hiding any identifying details and without a purpose besides that of searching for a spike in popularity.

I'm forever thankful that my "audience" is small and that I trust them.
posted by bendy at 9:45 PM on July 10




She apologized for what she did by saying she didn't realize what she was doing was wrong...

But by the time she said this she had already deleted a post where she basically said she knew what she was doing was shady so she was encouraging her followers to be "sneaky" and share it.

Her true character has really shown through in this event.
posted by fantasticness at 4:51 AM on July 11 [12 favorites]


I've taken photographs in a Safeway of people with pet dogs in the store to send to the health department. I usually did it discreetly but the one time someone saw me he told me I couldn't take his photo. I justified it by saying he was in a public space and his image was fair game. I have no idea if this was true but I also had no intention of finding out his name or anything about him or sharing his photo with anyone but the health department.

In this case, the purpose is "hey jerko, you've got your dog in a place where food is being prepared for people ... that's against health code and I'm reporting you".

The intention matters, I think.

Also, while it's hypothetically possible that "BRING HIS DOG TO SAFEWAY GUY" could go massively viral, it's pretty unlikely to happen without an aggressive effort to promote that. Which you obviously weren't doing.
posted by theorique at 7:16 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I think a bigger gray area is when people intentionally use social media to try to shame others for bad behavior. Like, I've tweeted out pictures of cars and trucks parked in bike lanes a couple of times. (This is a pet peeve. The bike lane is not actually a loading zone, guys, and it's not safe to make me swing out into traffic because you've decided to park there.) It's conceivable one of those could go viral. Is that over the line? I think it might be, but I also don't feel like I have a lot of other recourse about bad behavior that the cops are not ever going to do anything about.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:33 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I didn't read any of those tweets when it started to get shared around because the whole idea icked me out. And seeing here how it escalated I'm glad I didn't. It just, I dunno, feels wrong to talk about people behind their backs, especially in such a public venue.
If you just told the story to friends then yeah, I'd say that's okay, a nice little anecdote. But it isn't likely to spread. But would you say those things out loud so the person/people you were making up a story about could hear? No, you wouldn't.

If you aren't happy to say it to someone's face don't say it in a tweet, especially one they can be id'd in.
I also think that we reward the snark and the put-down way too much online. I know, this wasn't the case here, but I've seen tweets giving out about people for just living their lives that just makes me feel, well, not good. Someone's conversation may not be to your taste, but is it really necessary to tweet about it with a remark saying you're delighted you're not their friend? It's just unpleasant.
posted by Fence at 11:33 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


From BusinessInsider, here is the full statement of the woman who Rosey Blair stalked:
I am a young professional woman. On July 2, I took a commercial flight from New York to Dallas. Without my knowledge or consent, other passengers photographed me and recorded my conversation with a seatmate. They posted images and recordings to social media, and speculated unfairly about my private conduct.

Since then, my personal information has been widely distributed online. Strangers publicly discussed my private life based on patently false information. I have been doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed. Voyeurs have come looking for me online and in the real world.

I did not ask for and do not seek attention. #PlaneBae is not a romance - it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent.

Please continue to respect my privacy, and my desire to remain anonymous.
posted by Shitty Baby Animal at 6:44 AM on July 13 [24 favorites]


You know, the thing is that if Rosey Blair had just kept her ooh-isn't-that-cute speculation to herself, still offered to switch seats and joked that same "who knows maybe you'll meet the love of your life" joke, then maybe the couple really would have gone on to have the very kind of dating relationship Blair was excited about. But by shining this spotlight on it, she's made both parties feel all self-conscious, and Blair has effectively killed the relationship she was patting herself on the back for having fostered.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I don't know. A couple of people on Twitter have commented on the behavior of the guy, a former professional soccer player and current model, who has been trying to cash in in various ways. He's also been saying coy but slightly suggestive things in response to questions about whether they did have sex in the bathroom ("a gentleman would never say") and in other ways contributing to the woman's distress. He doesn't particularly sound like a great catch. But nobody is going after him. I wonder why not?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:20 AM on July 13 [16 favorites]


Her true character has really shown through in this event.

Yep. I also think it should be noted that today, Rosey Blair has this self-promoting tweet (with the #PlaneBae hashtag) still up. And also this self-congratulatory post on Instagram where she gushes about how much she loves love, and lauds herself for providing "much needed cheerfulness."

These posts are still up, even though the statement that the stalking victim released hours ago today through her lawyer indicates that there was nothing cheerful about this story at all. I think that speaks volumes about Blair's character.

The thing that I find most infuriating about this story is that it started with the woman doing Blair a favor by switching seats. And for that act of kindness she was, in her own words "doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed."

Meanwhile Blair and Euan Holden are being total assholes in not respecting this woman's privacy, and they appear to be getting what they want in terms of exposure/attention. Half of Blair's twitter comments are people with no moral compass telling her she's awesome and she did nothing wrong. I'm pretty sure there are people in the entertainment industry who share that sentiment, and will give her work because of this. It's super gross.
posted by creepygirl at 7:50 PM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Another interesting lens to look at this. I wasn't aware the woman was Asian-American.
posted by anem0ne at 8:55 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


That is a really great article, anem0ne - and honestly looking at Holden’s self edits, it’s gross as fuck that he played into this with someone he was clearly not having a romance with. Pretending you are involved with a woman to gain praise has a long and gross history, and he should be ashamed of himself.
posted by corb at 10:33 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Gah. Now I don't know.

My favorite thing to read here, because anyone who says that is actually thinking through the nuances instead of parroting their own worldview thoughtlessly. Sincerely, thank you for not knowing.
posted by davejay at 10:54 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


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