Model crowdsources name-and-shame for lecherous airline seatmate

Our Avram takes to Making Light to tell the remarkable story of a model who found herself sitting next to a lecherous married man on an airplane, and who crowdsourced a name-and-shame campaign for him on Twitter that uncovered his identity. Avram makes the point that this is more science fictional than most science fiction:

Ms Stetten is a twenty-something model living in New York (though possibly not a native). Yesterday she was on a plane when the fellow sitting next to her, wearing a wedding ring, tried hitting on her. She turned him down, and tweeted about it. He kept at it.

Over the course of the conversation, Brian mentioned not just his first name, but also that he’s an actor, and born in Oklahoma. Eventually he brought up that he’d just been working on a project with Matthew McConaughey, and that’s all it takes nowadays. Inside a minute, one of Stetten’s followers had found him on the IMDB.

Things got worse for Brian from there — lied about his marriage, turned out to be lying about being “clean and sober”, etc. The story’s been picked up by a Hollywood gossip site, so I imagine he’s got some ’splainin’ to do back home. I’m interested in this not so much for the sake of schadenfreude about some actor I’d never heard of (although it is fun) as for the implications for science fiction. How much have you read recently that gives you that glimpse of the possibilities of heavily networked societies? How many authors (other than Charlie Stross) are really writing about the possibilities of a crowd-sourced panopticon? And how many are still living in the ’70s?

A little bird tells me…


      1. I’d say that’s highly suspect. He’s an alcoholic in relapse. Looks like she have has remorse towards the end. I’d say she was trying to be funny and realized she may have gone too far. Either way, that guy needs to get professional help stat.

    1. The guy lied about being married, took off his wedding ring, wouldn’t leave an uninterested girl alone. It’s the guy.

  1. I’d heard of men lying to get with hot women. Thanks to technology we have our proof!

  2. Eh… I think he sounds like a dick, but I also feel mildly sorry for the guy.  He could have just been harmlessly flirting with a girl.  None of us were there, but from her tweets it doesn’t sound like she was telling him to STFU and leave her alone, and it doesn’t sound like he was overtly trying to drag her into bed.  He could have been babbling on as she nods, failing to get the “shut up asshole” vibe.  He lands, and a few hours later mommy and daddy are getting a divorce and working out which days he is going to get to see junior.

    Married people get bored.  Puritanical demands that they have no stray thoughts and that any such thoughts are equivalent to cheating is a recipe for insanity for a lot of people. We compromise. People pretend to their spouses that they never look and flirt and the spouses pretend to believe them.  I can’t count the number of married women who think that their men don’t watch porn.  Ladies, pro-tip: If it is male and has a few functional sex hormones still swirling around, it is watching porn.  Flirting with a random girl on a plane isn’t much worse then telling your wife you don’t watch porn when, being male, you do.

    I’m not really dying for a panopticon until people get about 90% less prudish and judgmental.

    1. Um, sorry to have to contradict you, but not all men watch porn. A tiny minority maybe, but that is still a dumb assumption to make. And that is aside from the fact, that looking at naked or sexy people in porn or real life is a whole other thing from approaching them and signalling you are available. I look at sexy people all the time, not ashamed to admit it, but I am not going to go and harrass them and tell them I’m single.
      Also: since when does a woman have to first tell someone to STFU in order to deserve to be left alone? If a woman doesn’t seem interested, men like that need to learn to shut the hell up by themselves

      1. Indeed, the statement “all men watch porn” is contrafactual.  The true and correct statement should be “all living, sighted men watch porn.”

        But that aside, I don’t see how a married man watching porn has the slightest thing to do with a married man hitting on a woman in the adjoining seat.

    2. i agree with you about the unreasonable expectations some people have of the marriage commitment and i agree that most men like looking at images of naked women.

      but i just wanted to help you understand why she didn’t tell him to: “STFU and leave her alone”.  when young women first start to attract attention from men, they might try this more direct approach.  but we quickly learn that being honest and direct (“i am not interested in flirting with you”, “i don’t find you attractive”) will often result in an offended and aggressive response.  even nicer let-downs (“i have a boyfriend”, “sorry, i came here to talk to my friends”, etc) will rarely be accepted gracefully.  so we learn to put up with it until we can exit, stage left.

      tl/dr: when faced with unwanted attention from men, most women will do their best to avoid pissing the guy off, especially if they have to sit next to him for the rest of the flight.

      1. That is an absurd excuse. If the guy does get pissed off and aggressive, call a flight attendant. That sort of behavior is inexcusable on a plane.

        1. you’re absolutely right, if he gets aggressive, call a flight attendant.

          but it’s not as straight-forward as that.  if she tells him “i’m not interested, please don’t talk to me”, it’s extremely unlikely he will be physically aggressive.  but, as so many women know from past experiences, he may well decide to make her flight uncomfortable.

          his ego will be bruised, so the first thing he’ll probably do is deny he was flirting with her, to put her down a peg or two.  depending on how much of a dick he is, he might decide to irritate her for the rest of the flight in a number of ways, but nothing that you’d want to bother the flight attendant with.

          i know that most men aren’t as petty and emotion-driven as the scenario i describe here, but i have also had enough men hit on me in my life to know how it so often pans out when you bluntly tell them you’re not interested.  the simple act of starting to flirt with the pretty model in the seat next to him identifies him as more likely to be emotionally-driven and after an ego-boost.

          but don’t take my word for it – ask your sisters, female friends, etc about how they deal with unwanted advances and what kinds of reactions they get.

          1. “The simple act of starting to flirt with the pretty model in the seat next to him identifies him as more likely to be emotionally-driven and after an ego-boost.”
            Or maybe it just identifies him as a heterosexual male (not that there isn’t a strong correlation).

      2. but we quickly learn that being honest and direct (“i am not interested in flirting with you”, “i don’t find you attractive”) will often result in an offended and aggressive response.  even nicer let-downs (“i have a boyfriend”, “sorry, i came here to talk to my friends”, etc) will rarely be accepted gracefully.  so we learn to put up with it until we can exit, stage left.

        This is something which, as a guy, I really didn’t understand until my younger sister explained it to me from a woman’s perspective. I tend to be straightforward in my own communication, and take what other people say literally (not an uncommon quirk of engineering types). I used to think when a women said she ‘is busy working things out in her life right now’ or ‘didn’t really have time for dating’ that would mean ‘ask again a couple weeks, or after final exams’. Really it would mean ‘no thank you’, and when I finally figured it out I’d be a little insulted. “Just tell me the truth, and we won’t waste each other’s time,” I would think. Because, you see, I can’t imagine being violent or angry about being rejected. How could I? Even hot men probably get rejected 90% of the time, and I am not hot. But again, I’ve learned from my sister that men are not always well behaved in these situations.

        1. thanks, bkad – lucky you have a cool sis to explain these things to you!  and i absolutely agree that women could certainly learn to be a bit clearer with their communication a lot of the time!

        2. I feel your pain. I remember right at the start of a relationship a woman telling me that she thought flowers were corny and that I shouldn’t ever buy her flowers. Definitely no flowers. So, OK.  Now, being leftish, my early adulthood girlfriends in the late 70s/early 80s tended to be feminists and so I came of age listening to slogans like “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no” (Reclaim the Night, the 80s slut walks) and partly as a result of that,  partly because I try to keep things simple, I accept what people tell me about themselves at face value, unless it’s obvious BS. So if a guy tells me he doesn’t like cricket, say, or a woman tells me she doesn’t like flowers, I believe them. Why wouldn’t I? Needless to say, some years down the line I was told during a row, through huge, wracking sobs that “You NEVER. BUY. ME. FLOWAAAAAZ!”

          I mean, wtf?

        3. Hah.  The first time my now-husband asked me out, I was crazy busy helping with my sister’s upcoming wedding.  I told him that, and to ask me again in a month.  Fortunately, he did call again a month later and we hit it off.
          When guys asked me out and I wasn’t interested, I’d always just tell them, as gently as I could, that I just wasn’t interested.  Nothing bad ever happened.  Of course, I also sometimes asked guys out myself, and sometimes they weren’t interested.  Maybe this gave me greater empathy when I was turning guys down myself.

      3. As women, we have to take responsibility for ourselves and not expect special treatment.  If you wouldn’t say it to somebody’s face, you probably shouldn’t be tweeting it all over, then forming some kind of smear campaign as soon as you cook it up in your mind.  It’s all part of being a grown up woman knowing how to handle yourself.  If she can’t do this on a plane I’d hate to think how she’d be “taken advantage of” in a bar, you know, if there were famous people around.  I think she’s going to regret this.

        1. To be fair, I am not sure the model knew where, or how far this was going to go when she launched her first tweet.. Or that her followers were going to dig up such damning ancillary  information. I think she, like the rest of us, is still learning how to control information in her public persona and the gradations of public vs. private in a Facebook world. The actor or lecherous “victim” in this scenario would presumably know just as much about paparazzi, publicity and public spaces as his tweeting seat-mate. 

          Do I want to live in a world in which everything I do is subject to public scrutiny? Hell no. Do I sometimes like telling people the crazy thing that happened to me on the plane? Yes. 

          The model isn’t entirely blameless but something else is going on here and that’s, what happens to our reality-based, oft exaggerated personal anecdotes when they become public and how great is our obligation to maintain either veracity to the actual events or the privacy of the supporting characters?

    3. I agree with 99% of what you say, but there’s this detail of the guy spouting blatant lies about him being single, which makes it difficult for me to empathize. Flirting is one thing, deceiving is quite another. Actors might be professional liers  but that doesn’t exempt them from behaving in real life.

  3. Not saying the guy’s not being a dick, am saying the repercussions seem draconian. A dangerous precedent in unaccountable judgement by anyone offended by the behaviour of another.

    1. “Unaccountable judgement”? All that’s really happened is that the guy’s wife now knows how he behaves when she isn’t around. That’s the very opposite of unaccountability — he’s being held accountable for his behavior. (Presumably. We still don’t know how his wife is going to react.) 

      1. Whose job is it to make him accountable for his personal relationships? Guess who: nobody but himself. 

      2. A commenter at the Daily Mail said that Ms. Stetten should have thought about the gentleman’s wife.  Which is funny because, of the two of them, she was the only one who was thinking of his wife.

        1. Yeah, probably along the lines “Let’s publicly shame her and her marriage and demonstrate how much hawter I am than she is in front of the whole world by making fun of her miserable sod of a husband.”
          As I said, she could have privately contacted her if she had any real concerns.

          1.  Uhm, in which world does a person’s infidelity reflect badly on their partner? I’ve been cheated on, but I don’t see why I should be ashamed that people I date can’t/ don’t want to keep their pants on? How is that any failing of mine that I need to feel bad about?
            And the hotness assumption is also a stretch. Despite what TV tells us, people don’t only cheat with people hotter than them. It’s not like the reason for cheating is the partner’s lack of hotness. FYI I have been cheated on and left for two people, one was at least double my weight and the other had a bad case of acne and a forehead that extended to the middle of their skull.

            I also don’t really get the hate that woman gets here. She shouldn’t have named the guy and was careless, but it’s not like she set out to expose the guy. Her tweets were more about “creepy douche hitting on me” than “oh look at this guy, I am going to post his address.” And yes, it is generally ok for women to complain about unwanted advances. Even publicly. After all he publicly hit on her where she didn’t even have the option to just walk away instead. Maybe he should have made sure she was into him, before he harrassed her.

          2. Uhm, in which world does a person’s infidelity reflect badly on their partner? I’ve been cheated on, but I don’t see why I should be ashamed that people I date can’t/ don’t want to keep their pants on?

            Shouldn’t be that way, but I agree, it some (many?) places it is shameful to have your partner cheat on you. It might be a regional thing; it is probably a generational thing, where younger people have a more reasonable attitude about this.

      3.  “All that’s really happened is that the guy’s wife now knows how he behaves when she isn’t around.”

        You’re wrong there.  The guy has been very publicly humiliated–as in every one of his friends, most of his family, and millions of others now know that he was a bit of a douchebag.  Maybe he deserved a bit of chastising, and his wife probably deserves to know that he’s not honest about their relationship.  But base humiliation on a massive public scale seems a tad harsh.

    2. A dangerous precedent in unaccountable judgement by anyone offended by the behaviour of another.

      I agree. One of the reasons society builds these authoritarian systems for handling crime and punishment is because people who are emotionally involved in the offending situation are liable to go to far in their quest for revenge/punishment and are accountable to no one. It is vigilante justice.

      I’ve never been exposed to unwanted romatic interest from a guy, so I don’t know how that can be. To me it seems the ‘punishment’ here (public shaming, which unfortunately involves the man’s family, plus the risk of what any Internet hoodlum might do as a result) is disproportionate to the crime.

  4. crime: bored married guy casualy flirts with an attractive girl
    proper punishment: public destruction of his marriage and career, probably taking his children away in the process.
    Yeah, of course the guy’s a dick, but so is everybody from time to time. It’s called “human condition” you know. I find it deeply disturbing that some would see what happened as a “proper punishment” for his “crime.” I thought puritan days in the US were long over.
    And btw it’s amazingly hypocrytical to go all concerned over privacy rights on the internet and then defend that woman which globally broadcast what is, in essence, a private, intimate conversation. If she had a problem with it, she could have dealt with it in another manner. This is destruction of privacy on a nightmarish scale. “Take care what you’re saying to this citizen, who knows what interpretation of your conversation he might be tweeting to the world right now.”

    1. I find it deeply disturbing that some would see what happened as a “proper punishment” for his “crime.”

      It’s not punishment; it’s an opportunity for his wife to protect herself from any venereal diseases that he might bring home.

      1. I kinda don’t see that as her motivation. And besides if she were that concerned about his family’s health she could have privately contacted his wife and disclosed to her that he might be cheating. (remember, nothing physial actually took place) But oh no. That would require some courage and integrity and actual concern. Why should she do that when she can simply make fun of the guy in front of the whole world and thus present his wife with a fait accompli. Maybe they were going through a rough patch with their marriage. Maybe his wife knew that he is flirting around. Maybe she even acknowleged that this could be harmless phase, his way of compensating or dealing with issues. Maybe she simply doesn’t care. Who knows? No marriage is the same. And who are WE to judge? And that is exactly my point.
        I’m not reallly sure his wife is thanking her for what she has done.

        1. In any case, this is not the way to deal with this type of behavior, or to correct it.  Both are disagreeable persons and I would want nothing to do with them in my life, but WE are NOT the ones to decide the ifs, whens and hows to let his family know.  They have also been publicly humiliated.  It’s infuriating.

        2. That would require some courage and integrity and actual concern.

          Why should she expend any energy on this creep? She’s not his mother.

          1.  Lol and she should “expend her energy” by publicly broadcasting everything (or lets be more precise, HER  version of events, without him having any recourse or even knowledge of what is happening) in order to “protect his wife from venereal diseases.”
            Really? I mean, even for an advocatus diaboli this is a bit too much.

          2.  You mean energy aside from trying to woo her 15,000 twitter followers by showing how witty she is while being derisive on the internet?
             ‘oh no I’m playing ‘words’ with friends.. do go on…”

        3. Whoa. Slow the roll to the men’s rights mobile.  Nothing in the story suggests that the model was conducting an undercover sting operation or had it out to get the guy.  He was doing some pretty pointed extramarital flirting, she tweeted about it. It would have just been funny and anonymous were it not for the fact that the actor was giving interviews trumpeting his family and sobriety. 

          I think the disproportionate need to defend the bored married guy is noteworthy. Clearly the model should have just shut up and taken it like a lady; as if his interest alone should effect her behaviour. Being the unwilling recipient of someone’s flirting doesn’t morally obligate a woman to do anything – let alone defend the flirter’s privacy and home life.

      2. Venereal! Yes! 

        Because we are not enjoying a little righteous minute of hate! Not at all! 

        We are just being vigilant foes of the venereal! And we think of the children!

    2. It’s dangerous dealing with narcissists who want nothing to do with you, but are willing to pass the time having fun at your expense.
      Then the internet sharks smell blood and the adrenaline fueled frenzy begins in earnest, everyone caught in the moment, destroying an abstraction (a name on a plane in Twitterland).

    3. ? Do you think he did anything wrong to the woman he was hitting on?

      I don’t think the “proper punishment” for a woman being attractive is being lied to and treated like a Cracker Jacks prize, but that happens everyday.

      I have nothing against open marriages, but that requires consent.

    4. I also think people have tbe right to tweet about their experiences. You know, it wasn’t just a moment in this man’s life, but her’s as well.

      People don’t have a right to intimate moments with strangers on planes, even if the stranger is a pretty woman.

      1. Every time I fly, I hope I get a seat next to a pretty woman. But no, it’s overweight middle aged men, every single time.

        Of course, in my fantasy, the pretty woman and I turn out to have an instant chemical connection and discover we have a lot in common. We use this  “chance encounter with a stranger” to have a deeply vulnerable and affectionate exchange. Sometimes it’s easier to share with strangers, you know. Then we go our separate ways, happy to have been there but a little disappointed the flight is over. But just before we part we discover that, even though the flight is between two cities on the other side of the country, that we actually live in the same city, mere blocks away!

        I don’t know why I shared that. Now you know I have unmanly, juvenile fantasies. My male fantasy center must be broken. I probably should be fantasizing about hooking up in the bathroom, but airplane bathrooms are just nasty.

        Anyway, sure, people can tweet about their experiences. I don’t know about you, but when I post things, even about friends, I try to anonymize everyone except for myself. This is the opposite.

  5. Yeah, right. It’s impossible she had any interest in embellishing things to make herself appear sexually irresistible and him look like a clueless buffoon. Young women never do that on social sites. We can rest assured that her version is correct, not at all self-serving, because she reported first in the Court of Twitter.

    1. Because you post on the Internet, I am immediately suspicious of you too. I suspect you are only *pretending*  to spuriously doubt stories told by women, in order to propagate the idea that the two genders are held to different standards. YOU CAN’T FOOL ME.

      1. I doubt a lot. Don’t you? Why automatically believe she’s told the unvarnished truth?

    2. Well, that’s certainly the argument Presley’s lawyers will make in the future libel case.

  6. If the guy had been publicly embarrassed as a result of his actions, he learnt his lesson and everyone moved on, then I’d be fine. However, we’re now in an age when the Internet can magnify every event and it can stay in Google searches forever. If I think back on some of the clumsy conversations I had with women in my teens and early twenties (although nothing on this level)…

    We had one side of the story. In this case, there’s no reason to question the truthfulness of what was said, but I can see the day when someone is unfairly called out on Twitter. A lie can travel around the world before the truth has got its trousers on.

    A quick Google of Ms Stetten indicates she is stunning – the type where it’s hard to avoid looking at someone. I can understand why someone would try to strike up a conversation with her (although that doesn’t excuse anything more than saying hello).

    His wife knows a little more about the person she married, and she’ll have to decide whether he was just flirting or would have been prepared to take things further.

    1. “In this case, there’s no reason to question the truthfulness of what was said,”

      Nope, none whatsoever.

  7. She tweeted her life experiences as many do. She didn’t set out to humiliate some one. Look at any twitter feed and it’s the same.  It’s a conversation between her and her followers. Just as if she met you for coffee after the flight. She would have said “This guy was hitting on me the whole flight. ” The problem is he thought he was invisible.

    I started smoking again. Had a smoke outside the mall. A friend see me and mentions it to my girlfriend the next day. He didn’t set out to hurt me but *I was keeping a secret*.

    I saw Steve having a smoke outside the mall yesterday, he probably said. Next thing you know I was getting an angry call from my girlfriend.

    1. Phssthpok: “I started smoking again. Had a smoke outside the mall. A friend see me and mentions it to my girlfriend the next day. He didn’t set out to hurt me but *I was keeping a secret*. ”

      yes! this!

      so many people jumping to paint Stetten as the antagonist here and elsewhere on the web (take a look at the awful comments on the hollywood gossip site linked in the article).

      the comments here about “bored married buy casually flirts with girl on plane” and “he was just being a dick” are correct.  but did you stop to think that she was also “just casually tweeting about a guy flirting with her on a plane” and maybe “she was just being a dick”.  they are both grown-ass people making their own decisions.  _she_ seems to me like the one with better judgement.

  8.  He’s convicted?  Which is more likely: A woman ruins a mans reputation for no good reason at all, or a guy lied to a girl he just met just to get into her pants.

  9. Ignoring the sexual aspect of the story for comedic purposes, I wish that I could fuck up the life of everyone that refuses to take hints and shut the fuck up next to me on a flight.

    1. On a bus from San Diego to Fresno once (don’t ask), a family boarded in LA and sat together several rows back, the seat next to me was free.  About twenty minutes later, the family teenager suddenly sat beside me, and I couldn’t understand why.  Sadly, it quickly became apparent that the family had banished their little fucking fart machine from their ranks.

      1. Duh. The kid probably ate dried apricots on purpose so he wouldn’t have to sit with his parents.

        1. Maybe, but I got him, got him good, right around Bakersfield.  I swear I could see his eyes pop just a little bit out of their sockets, and that quieted him down for the rest of the way.

  10. Christ – what an asshole! The girl, not the guy though. I mean, sure he was probably a dickwad and all, but c’mon who actually thinks that he deserves this amount of exposure?

  11. I’d like to think this sets some sort of precedent for personal accountability in the internet age, but it seems more like just another mob pandering to an attractive woman because she’s attractive.

    Would an unattractive woman get the same reaction on twitter? Would she even have any followers?

    1. “OMG, I just exchanged a tweet with a supermodel!”

      You put your finger on something elusive that was bugging me about all this, kudos.

    2.  I would go so far as to say that all of her followers are probably guys just like this guy who hit on her.  So she’s using her personal army of assholes to destroy this asshole who hit on her on the plane.  Each one of those followers would also hit on her on the plane.

  12. Except she goes to some trouble to identify him. ianno, seems a lot of trouble for being a public nuisance. Sure, get him moved for being pissed and annoying. Being put in the stocks seems a little medieval.

  13. I had an obnoxious customer ask “What is your NAME?” implying that she was “taking names”.  I said “email address for the receipt?” and within a couple of minutes I knew where she went to college, what she had to eat on a particular holiday, and what her cat looked like.

    I wouldn’t think of doing anything mean with the information but “You take my name? I take your name too!” is pretty satisfying.

  14. I think we have to put the blame on the chatterer, rather than the tweeter, based just on the sheer quantity of Stetten’s tweets.  She’s obviously tap-tap-tapping away on her iphone while he’s bothering her in the adjoining seat.  There’s a phrase for her (lack of) response to his behavior: Not Interested. While the punishment was a little harsh for the crime, this guy was being ludicrously obnoxious.  And hypocritical, given his huge Christian internet footprint. Also, he’s Hollywood (albeit D-List), so he should have a much lower expectation of privacy than a civilian. Hitting on someone while married and getting it publicized is something he might have considered beforehand.

    tl;dr if you’re hitting on someone and they continue to type, stop hitting.

  15. I logged in just to make a quick snark about how Ms Stetten was gonna get in a lot of trouble for texting while on a plane in mid-flight. Then I did a quick google and found that they were flying Virgin America, where you are allowed, enccouraged even, to use your everyday devices.

      1. Exactly. And forbidding the use of cellphones and the like on planes was a very nanny-ish thing to do by the airlines, so it’s nice to see that’s beeing phased out.

  16. “How many authors (other than Charlie Stross) are really writing about the possibilities of a crowd-sourced panopticon?”

    Neal Stephenson was doing it 20 years ago in Snow Crash.

    As for the rest of the story, I might almost have a little sympathy for the guy if he wasn’t such a hypocrite. If you want to be a dog, be a dog. But don’t claim you’re a good little christian one minute and be a dog the next.

  17. BoingBoing is generally an advocate for crowdsourcing information (as am I.)

    But the nightmarish aspect of this is that we’re now crowdsourcing morality.  Here’s this douchebag sitting on an airplane next to a model.  He decides to make some banter, says a few half-truths that are ultimately harmless (they’re on an airplane, after all.)

    Cue insane crowdsourced morality lynchmob: destroy man’s life, based on a model’s snarky, mean Twitter commentary.

  18. thank you, moderators, for removing the really nasty comment I was about to reply to. 

  19. Social media used this way kind of takes us back to the social customs of a village.  In a village or small town, someone is going to know you when you’re out and about.  If you do something remarkable, good or bad, it will be around town at lightning speed.   Social media made our village larger and lightning speed even faster.

  20. He’s an asshole, no doubt.  But the casually cruel and ridiculing tone of even the early tweets in their interaction–the ones along the lines of: “Brian likes going back home to Oklahoma to inspire the less fortunate to become “artists” like himself.”–reveals her as a pretty horrible person too.  The twitter equivalent of the cliquey girl at high school running back to tell her friends that the spazzy kid actually tried to talk to her.  I would hate to be stuck next to either of them on a plane.

  21. The whole idea of libel in the world of social media and is very interesting and I think the law is totally not ready for it.

    1.  Sorry, while I am interested in that this is not libel…. shouldn’t have inferred that it was.

  22. “How much have you read recently that gives you that glimpse of the possibilities of heavily networked societies? How many authors (other than Charlie Stross) are really writing about the possibilities of a crowd-sourced panopticon?”

    Hello, Wuffie? Welcome to the reputation economy.

  23. This seems a bit too similar to the ‘live flesh searches’ they’ve had on Chinese websites for a while for my comfort. Someone accuses someone of something (or wants to find out if someone is all they say they are), the internet finds out everything they can about them and potentially ruins their life in the process. It’s basically employing a kind of vigilantism, even if the guy had what was coming to him (in the sense that he was ‘outed’ for his actions). There’s no sense of proportion or balance in these stories, and the people who benefit/suffer are usually made to fit an established stereotype (cute girl, dirty old man). In many cases, a complex story or person is reduced to a crude effigy of every person following that description that we hate. We feel that we’ve brought justice to the situation, when in fact we’ve often made it worse.

    I think people still don’t actually see the effect that they have by making these kind of comments on the internet. Would it be justified for that woman to stand up and shout at the man in front of all of the other passengers? This would have had the effect of shaming the man for the few hours he was on the plane (safely for him, in that it could have given him a wake up call without immediate family and friends knowing). It would have made him feel pretty crappy for the rest of the flight, then he could have made up his mind whether he wanted to change his attitude. It would also have been a reminder to any others on the plane that they can’t just act like no one is watching or that no one will respond to what they are doing. The shame would be for a shorter time, with fewer people who didn’t know him. Even so, many people would have considered this kind of rude, despite the fact that this was more proportionate to the annoyance. The difference seems to be that in this case, the woman would also have been risking censure (by people who were actually there and had heard everything) or a bad reaction from the man, but she could still have had some kind of middle ground between “I’m not interested” and “I’m going to ruin your life”.

  24. I’m old and fat and ugly, and even I get guys hitting on me creepily and persistently. Often, it feels more like a control thing than poor social skills: if he keeps pestering me and talking about sex, he controls my attention & where I can stand or sit. If you tell these guys in any way that you don’t want to talk to them, they will start talking about what a bitch you are and implying that someday someone will teach you a lesson. I am not extrapolating from one data point. I commute on public transportation and this happens regularly. It’s a low-grade assault that you could never prove, so they can get away with it over and over. I wish I could out every one of them as menacing dickheads.

    No one who sees me could claim that it’s my fault for being attractive or wearing revealing clothes. I hate to think what it’s like for the pretty girls.

  25. while understand how unwanted avances are annoying and doubly so when your trapped on a plane. i dont know that the complete unraveling of a mans life thru crowd sourceing is the answer… i cant think of a single old friend of mine who doesnt have a secret somewhere that that could ruin em when scrutinized thru crowd source. i think that is a fact we should all keep in mind. hate to say it but there are a shitload of glass houses out there and most of us live in one.

  26. So which is worse: Hitting on someone who is uninterested, or talking to them about your personal relationship with Jesus?

  27. Playing devil’s advocate, what if this is mostly made-up? Perhaps she is sitting there, bored, and happens to see something identifying her seatmate. She googles him, gets lots of personal information, creates a salacious narrative and starts tweeting.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I would think that in the absence of physical evidence of his wrongdoing, he would have a pretty good case for filing a lawsuit for libel. Just sayin’.

  28. He said he wasn’t married, took off his wedding band and told her it was ‘divine intervention’ that they were seated together. That’s NOT casual, friendly conversation or even light flirting.

    The commenters who are pity-partying his lying ass clearly never saw the disastrous effects of a cheating, lying spouse first hand. I’ve seen good people of both gender devastated after being betrayed by their spouse (even emotional betrayals). It’s a wound that the person carries for a long time. It can wreak havoc on their self-image and their future relationships. There is no good reason to be this cavalier with a partner’s trust and dignity.

    If you enjoy flirting behind your spouse’s back and discounting his/her very existence, at least be aware that it is NOT harmless. Your spouse may or may not find out, but it is still profoundly disrespectful in spirit. If you know that your spouse could be hurt and/or humiliated by your behaviour, then don’t do it. Having basic regards for people who love you surely isn’t that hard, is it?

  29. My wife and I have the same definition of cheating – conducting yourself in a way that you wouldn’t do if your partner was next to you.

    This guy was cheating and will pay the price.

Comments are closed.