They say one bad decision begets another, and nowhere is this more the case than on social media.
The Washington Post discovered a depressing new trend that sparked up following an incident involving a teenager identified as "Sarah." She used Twitter to send "hilarious" joke bomb threats to American Airlines, which wound up getting her arrested. Apparently that hasn't stopped others on social media from following suit.
The Post and other media outlets have labeled this a phenomenon occurring with "teens" on Twitter, but there's really no way of knowing if these are actually misguided young teenagers or just bored adults trying to create a little havoc before their shift at Mail Boxes Etc starts.
This is horrible and stupid for fairly obvious reasons. But the Post makes a broader point about this is actually a bigger issue than just making a few jokes about airline security:
Leaving aside, for a minute, the vast waste of taxpayer money and manpower that represents, there's another more ground-level problem here: This trolling completely destroys whatever incentives airlines have to engage with their customers on Twitter. Which is, as many a Twitter-using traveler knows, basically the only decent line of airline customer service left.
Just last week, the Post's Andrea Sachs reported on the use of social media at major airlines — it's "unrivaled in its efficiency," one expert said. In other words, if you ever have a problem on a flight, social media is the surest way to get relief. Or it will be, until other Internet trolls spam airlines with distracting, and potentially dangerous, clutter. (Imagine the chaos, if 4chan or some such signed on.)
I get that people want to make a public display of defending the girl who was arrested, because she's not a dastardly, evil criminal. She's a stupid teenager just like all of us probably were at one point. Plus, there are lots of people, perhaps misguidedly, who think this was satire and don't think it should be criminalized as such (are trying to use this now as a platform for protest). I don't think disrupting the customer service departments of major airlines is worse than wasting resources of security officials who have to track down and ascertain the validity of each one of these threats, but the point is all of this is a major fucking pain in the ass on all ends.
Image via Shutterstock.