The #PlaneBae furor proves privacy and the Golden Rule are in short supply

Commentary: As someone whose parents met on an airplane, I'd prefer people think before they live-tweet.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
3 min read

Not everyone wants to be internet famous. 

Erik Witsoe / EyeEm/ Getty

Can anyone flirt in peace anymore?

By now, the eyerollingly slang-infested phrase  #PlaneBae has likely crossed your radar.

If not, it's the latest reminder that the internet is real life, and what you post can bite not only you, but the people you post about in the butt.

In short, a woman and her boyfriend live-tweeted what seemed to be a budding romance between a man and woman sitting in front of them on an airplane.

At first blush, it seems innocuous, like exactly the kind of thing you do when you're bored and traveling. I, for one, like tweeting the random things little kids say. (I once heard a kid refer to "airport cheese" on a flight out of Oakland.)

However, the internet mobs, in their infinite wisdom, figured out the identities of the would-be lovebirds. The man, Euan Holder, said in a video Wednesday that he laughed when the story came out and that he's had an incredible experience. The woman, though, does not feel the same.

Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be internet famous.

"I have been doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed. Voyeurs have come looking for me online and in the real world," she told Business Insider in a statement through her lawyer this week, also saying "Strangers publicly discussed my private life based on patently false information." We could not independently verify the statement as it was anonymous.

The whole #PlaneBae incident has made me think a lot of my parents, namely because they met on an airplane back in 1983. By a twist of luck, they ended up sitting next to each other, and when they landed, my dad gave my mom and my grandmother a ride to my aunt's as there was a taxi strike at the time.

Now, I've heard that story enough times, and told it enough times that I can envision it like I was there, hovering around the overhead bins.

I can picture my dad, thin and in jeans, and my mom probably sitting with her hands in her lap -- the two of them chatting, youthful in their early 30s. And of course, I can imagine my dad driving and my grandmother, always in a skirt and stockings, sitting in the passenger seat.

That's all good enough for me. I'm glad no one was secretly recording them. And to be honest, no one needs a recording of their first awkward interactions with a person they're interested in. I can't imagine either of my parents would have appreciated it.

It's bad enough when you're talking to someone and your friend leans over grinning and asks, "So, what's going on there?"

The thing is, we spend quite a lot of time warning people about how to handle their own online image -- how to make sure you don't have the kinds of questionable pictures that would turn off an employer or admissions counselor. How to not tweet and post the kinds of things that could get them fired.

We barely have a handle on that, but the other vital part of this equation is considering what we're dragging other people into.

You don't post pictures of yourself shitfaced drunk. Don't do that to your friends either. Or strangers. They're people too.

If you're about to post something about other folks, flip it around and ask yourself how you'd feel about it.

The Golden Rule is older than any of us, and woefully underused.

I have no idea what's going to happen to the man and woman from #PlaneBae. The interaction might not have even been romantic. It does make me a little sad, though, to think that if there actually was some chemistry there, this whole situation has possibly marred it. 

My folks have a movie-level meet cute.

Mercifully, when someone asks them how they met, that story doesn't involve the searchlight of an internet hoard that might have destroyed their relationship before it even started. 

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