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Passenger Shaming: A Jerk Move?

We’ve all seen those photos on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere in between: A passenger in a bulkhead seat is sticking his bare feet against the wall while reading his US Weekly. Or maybe the feet are sticking out between the seats. Or perhaps it’s a distressed person seemingly re-packing their luggage at the airport. These images of passengers behaving in a baffling manner are fairly common and, let’s face it, hilarious. But is posting them a jerk move? Sometimes, yes.

What Does #PassengerShaming Accomplish?

We’ve all seen that video of a passenger trying to shove his carry-on bag vertically into the overhead bin. It’s actually kind of baffling because he’s fairly tall and should be able to see the problem. He doesn’t and has to be assisted by a flight attendant. Someone recorded the incident and posted it online. It went viral and even major news networks played it on the air. But what did sharing that video accomplish?

I understand posting photos of people misbehaving might help others figure out what’s acceptable in a public space. But embarrassing someone who is struggling with a simple task is just downright mean. And unnecessary, because all it accomplishes in the end is humiliating someone.

We all have our moments – how would you feel if one of them was posted on the internet and replayed for others to laugh at over and over again? The idea that we’re now posting videos of people’s humiliating moments as if we’ve never had one ourselves is just obnoxious.

Who Really Needs Calling Out?

Don’t get me wrong – I can take a joke. And if I see someone humiliating themselves, I will probably laugh and tell others about it. I just don’t think it’s right to photograph or video them and share it with others. Especially if it invades their privacy and makes them easily identifiable. I will make an exception for behavior that needs to be called out. If someone is behaving in an inconsiderate manner towards others or being rude, racist, misogynistic then I don’t object to shaming them. Witnessing bad behavior rather than hearing about it is more effective in 1.) addressing it and 2.) teaching others (and ourselves) a lesson in how not to behave.

Better Options?

It’s easy to point the finger at other people for acting “out of the norm” and talk about it. It’s more constructive if that behavior is addressed. So rather than pointing and laughing or broadcasting a passenger’s embarrassing or obnoxious behavior on the internet, try addressing ti directly. “Excuse me sir. Can you please move your bare feet away from my head? We’re in a public space and it’s probably best we all keep our socks on.” That’s way more sarcastic and shady than necessary, but then again I can be a jerk too. ;) More effective than shaming someone publicly would be to educate them. And if you are going to share videos and photos of their shame, respect their privacy and block out their faces.
What are your thoughts on passenger shaming? Do you think it’s OK or a total jerk move?


[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Comments are Closed.
mc4bbs October 4, 2018

With any form of "shaming" something is said of the shamer as well as the shamee. Some of the things I've seen in #PassengerShaming are really minor and are a matter of opinion, not worthy of shaming. For example, an adult changing in to and wearing pyjamas on an overnight flight should be acceptable. Pissing on the floor in a lav is NOT acceptable. If you think #PassengerShaming will change behaviour, you're sadly mistaken. If anything, it will increase the level of frustration felt by the pax who have been prodded by TSA, jammed into a tiny seat with barely any recline who have been nickelled and dimed through the entire process of booking a flight. Some of the bad behaviour you see is a direct result of how pax are treated. If you treat pax like shit, they will very likely behave badly getting what little revenge they can on the airline's bottom line. If anything, #PassengerShaming should focus on "self upgrades" and truly reprehensible behaviour -- not the poor lady who's struggling with three small carry-ons.

raytseng September 18, 2018

The guise that posting is to shame the other person is thin at best. The poster doesn't want the target to know they posted, they want the hiddenness/anonymity. Ultimately the people are posting for THEMSELVES more than the issue, and to get likes or views or attention to the perceived slight. It's quickly a slippery slope when that guise of making improvements is dropped and it purely becomes a wicked thing poking fun at ugly people or other basic bullying.

jmayo September 18, 2018

There is a line that has been crossed when someone treats a public space as if it is not a shared experience. Especially, as others have pointed out, when it comes to your bare feet in or on shared/public space. Feet on a wall? Come on, put your dirty shoes or feet on the floor. Bare feet on a tray table? Disgusting and wrong. They should be asked to deplane, as far as I'm concerned.

pointchaser September 18, 2018

@Cathchawave your story is a good example of how we shouldn't make assumptions about people - esp the part about people's mental capabilities. Thanks for sharing and being compassionate.

NoleATL September 17, 2018

So, you post the pictures and videos here? That wasn't necessary for the article.