On Thanksgiving, a historically a slow news day on the Internet, we received a miracle of sorts, one tailor-made for virality. A man named Elan Gale tweeted his passed “notes” with a fellow passenger on his plane, after a flight delay caused her to complain.
I sent the lady a glass of wine and a note pic.twitter.com/GttnmQI25P— elan gale (@theyearofelan) November 28, 2013
The story combined the anxiety of holiday travel with an anonymous, rude target: “Diane.” Or, as she would come to be known in the days after Elan’s story went viral, “Diane in 7A.”
BuzzFeed broke the story, saying it “won” Thanksgiving, whatever that means. Jezebel followed suit, labeling “Diane” the “asshole woman.” And then several other media outlets copied and pasted the narrative, many of them taking Gale’s side, calling Diane “grumpy” or “annoying.” On the eve of Black Friday, the rude customer narrative took off.
Elan responded to online criticism of the situation by telling people they could eat a part of his anatomy, just like he told Diane in one of his notes. He then wrote a post about why he was right to antagonize Diane, before concluding that we should all be nice to each other. He was just trying to teach her a lesson.
Oh, and Gale is a producer on The Bachelor. This tweet might sum up the situation:
Somehow the guy who produces "The Bachelor" managed to turn an emotionally distressed woman into entertainment. #GoFigure— ben schwartz (@benschwartzy) November 30, 2013
So why did we so easily accept that Gale was telling the truth? The viral hoax works better when we only know one side and can rally around that cause, much like the story of a gay waiter in New Jersey who recently claimed a customer left her a derogatory note. Gale’s past history with “livetweeting” has been uncovered, but the more troubling part is that we all had a laugh at his sexist behavior. Now, stories that Diane is actually dealing with cancer are circulating.
Someone claiming to be a family member posted this comment on Gale's blog:
“Admittedly, Diane hasn’t been handling her imminent death very well, but she really was looking forward to being with us and the rest of her family- all of whom were flying in for one last Thanksgiving with her. In her defense, she was very contrite and upset about her behavior on the plane.”
Gale responded to this news in his usual charming manner, falling back on his tired refrain that his haters can eat his dick.
Whether Diane is real or imagined, and whether or not she has cancer, the fact that Gale decided to pat himself on the back for bullying this woman with increasingly hostile, passive-aggressive notes is more troubling than whether he makes stuff up sometimes. Yes, livetweeting breakups and bad behavior will always get the Internet’s attention, and that’s exactly what Gale got.
And he’s really trying to keep his Twitter celebrity status going, though he seems to have fallen short of teaching anyone a lesson.
Update: Gale announced Monday night that he would settle the Diane mystery once and for all. Apparently it was all a hoax—or something.
This big "reveal" possibly leaves more questions than it answered. Was there ever a Diane? Is this just the next chapter of Gale's story? Is it all viral marketing? We'll keep you posted.
Photo via MShades/Flickr