In Which Elan Gale Teaches Two Social Media Lessons

Elan Gale, a reality television producer, had a high-profile Thanksgiving weekend. Mr. Gale live-tweeted a purported confrontation with a woman named "Diane" during a busy holiday flight. The intended message of Mr. Gale's presentation — whether it was "reality," or pure fiction — was that "Diane" was rude to airline staff and unpleasantly entitled, and that Mr. Gale is witty and righteous.

Not everyone took it that way. Some people found Mr. Gale to be an insufferable douchebag who enjoys telling complete strangers "eat my dick" and then crowing about it on Twitter. On the other hand, some people defend Mr. Gale and celebrate him as an honest comic or as a champion of manners.

Mr. Gale serves to teach us two lessons about social media and the internet — and more broadly, about life.

Lesson One: Douchebaggery Is Not A Zero-Sum Game

The first lesson is that boorish behavior is not binary. People are complex, life is complex, and despite our hunger to see the world in simple terms of white hats versus black hats, sometimes all participants in a social media melee are assholes.

In this instance, it's perfectly possible to recognize that (1) that "Diane" — if she exists — was contemptibly rude and entitled towards airline staff who have no control over when a plane leaves and who are simply doing their jobs under trying circumstances, and (2) also recognize that Elan Gale is contemptibly self-involved for seeing Diane's rudeness as an opportunity to confront and torment her for his own amusement and self-promotion. Recognizing one does not diminish the other, because douchebaggery is not a zero-sum game. "Diane" thought — either out of bad character, or temporary frailty — that she was entitled to vent at some poor bastard working for an airline on a holiday. Mr. Gale thought that the abuse of an airline employee was a swell opportunity to put a woman "in her place" and preen for his followers. You can criticize both without letting either one off the hook.

Being human, I've probably been guilty of both. Despite my best efforts I've been rude to people in service jobs (remember what Dave Barry says: someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person), and I've probably written about bad behavior here as a vehicle for one-liners on more than one occasion. It's good to be honest about that before throwing the first stone, but because it's not a zero-sum game, recognizing that doesn't diminish any else's responsibility for their own actions.

Lesson Two: You Control Your Behavior, Not The World's Reaction To It

Elan Gale also taught us another lesson over the weekend: you control your own words and your own behavior, but you don't get to control how the world reacts to you. If you try — if you act like you are entitled to control how people react to you — you'll come off like a fool. Mr. Gale did.

When some people online failed to recognize his righteous genius, Mr. Gale reacted with increasing resentment and petulance.




Faced with unverified claims that "Diane" might have been acting that way because she has Stage IV lung cancer and is dying — which could be true and could explain the face mask Gale claims she was wearing, or could be completely made up — Mr. Gale responded with more ridicule:


That one's not going to seem very funny if "Diane" is real and actually has cancer. (Well, Maybe Elan Gale would still think it's funny.)

Elan Gale can control what he says or does. He can decide whether or not to use a complete stranger for a comedy routine and whether to solicit praise from his followers by telling women to eat his dick. If the whole thing is made up, it's up to him whether or not to make such things up.

What's not in his control, and not up to him, is how others react.

You can do two things with that truth: you can own your words and live with the reaction to them, or you can react with wounded outrage when folks don't think you're as special as mommy always said you were. Elan Gale is has chosen the later option, erupting like a moody tween at people not embracing his awesomeness. I'm always at risk of blasting someone here who doesn't "deserve" it, but I hope at least I'm not in danger of proclaiming that I have a right to do so without being criticized. Do you want to be edgy? Do you want to crusade against boors? Do you want to use strangers in your comedy routines? Knock yourself out. But if you do so, and then whine when someone tells you that you've acted like an asshole, you're a ridiculous and pathetic figure.

Or perhaps Elan Gale's self-righteous reaction to criticism is scripted as well, and the whole thing is a satire of a culture of narcissistic entitlement on all sides — in which case, well played.

Edited to add: Mr. Gale continues to see himself as a victim, and to have nothing resembling self-awareness:


Edited again: Gale now seems to be suggesting that the whole thing was made up. Is he suggesting that his entitled response was part of the joke? I suspect he will.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Sporting of you to give him an out at the end. However, the onion of his creativity shows no signs of having that many layers.

    I hereby coin the phrase "a Gale-force windbag sans élan". Feel free to spend it in whole or part.

  2. Basil. Forthrightly says

    Thank you Ken. There are far too many people who treat someone else's douchebaggery as a license to go full douchebag themselves. Mr. Gale's hurt/entitled routine takes it over the top.

    He apparently lives in some sort of social cocoon where saying "eat my dick" is appropriate discourse. In the real world, those are pretty much fighting words; delivering them via a note to a middle-aged woman wearing a medical mask is quintessential bullying.

  3. says

    There is something about this that brings to mind the saying about when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Only social media is now the hammer.

    Every bit of rudeness in the world seems to be worthy spreading, and far too many end up as a headline these days. Waitress gets a rude message instead of a tip (In so many variations). Pizza delivery guy gets smaller tip than he felt he deserved. Woman was rude on an airplane.

    Of course, I retweeted Ken's link to this post, so I am clearly part of the problem.

  4. ZarroTsu says

    Dear Mr. Gale:

    I think most people are wrong when they're offensively confrontational on Twitter; and especially those who are entirely unfunny.

    Could I get a Snickers bar and a couple of boxes of those Reece's M&M candy things? I'll take a Gingerale too, if you'd be a dear.

  5. says

    I thought sending the wine was pretty funny. Or even thoughtful. Had his response to her reaction been "Hey, sorry, saw you were stressed, thought a glass of wine might help" I'd think it was all pretty funny.

    But sending the vodka and being snide just shows us he's a petty person.

    Which makes him perfect for Hollywood.

  6. Artor says

    I think the fact that Gale is a "reality TV" producer tells us pretty much all we need to know about his character and value as a human being.

  7. Grifter says

    He gave her free wine and a snarky note because she was being an entitled witch.

    Her response was to hypocritically complain that he had no compassion–this despite him sending her a glass of wine, which, on an airplane, certainly ain't cheap. Then she gave a dig on his family, at Thanksgiving. Oddly, this did not defuse the situation, and made him tell her to eat his dick–words that I understand are generally offensive, but frankly, the woman is, at every stage, definitely in the wrong. After all, in the end, SHE is the one who raised the stakes to physical violence.

    I'm sorry for her if she really does have cancer, and it certainly makes her behavior more understandable. Understandable, not justified. Her condition, if it exists, is not free reign to be an utter asshat. It is not free reign to commit assault–which is what she did, and she's lucky he DIDN'T press charges (though it was a slap, so it's not like she hit him with a chair).

    I don't particularly care for this "Elan" fellow. I've never told anyone to eat my dick (though I've told several people that they can eat a BOWL of dicks). But, while this isn't a zero sum game, the balance seems to fall rather heavily on the "She's a bad person" side of the equation, and on the "he's not particularly funny, and said something offensive after having his family randomly brought into a note-war". I think I'd have less patience for him had he not bought her booze but, like I said, it's not like that stuff's free, so it was at least a relatively nice gesture.

  8. Larry says

    When I first read the story I Gawker, I found it amusing and was on Gale's side. But after reflection, it just seems so small and smug what he did. Is Diane a consistently horrible person who needed her comeuppance? Or was she just someone having a bad day who overreacted? We don't know. But to choose, as Gale did, to make her life worse without knowing the circumstances just seems to me to be the wrong way to live your life. If you get your happiness by making others feel miserable, you are losing.

  9. says


    Of all the scenarios I find plausible, the scenario in which the drink was a kind gesture, as opposed to deliberate provocation in order to serve a twitter story, is not among them.

  10. Grifter says


    Why do we need to know her whole history? If she was behaving poorly at that moment, she was behaving poorly at that moment.


    Well, it was certainly snide and condescending; but it was also a free drink. The original message was mean–but then, supposedly she was being an asshat, so he sent her a free drink with a snide comment that she should shut up. He could have been snide and condescending WITHOUT the free drink, too.

    Any time you want to insult me when I'm acting badly and send me a free drink, I'd be totally fine with it!

  11. AlphaCentauri says

    Having lung cancer is bad, but it helps to know more of the details. One of the most common places in the body for lung cancer to spread is to the brain. As if that isn't bad enough, the treatment for brain metastasis includes high-dose steroids to reduce the swelling around the nodule of lung cancer that is growing in the brain. The combination can cause a very short temper, a change in personality, and a tendency to impulsively blurt out the first thing that comes into your mind without any filtering, depending on where the tumor is located. She might also be grumpy because she's been told that because of the pain medicines and medicine to prevent seizures, she's not going to be able to drink any of the wine her family will be enjoying at her last Thanksgiving dinner. And here's this asshole sending her a glass of wine to taunt her.

    So, yeah, it's possible this is not at all how she usually is and that he owes her a sincere apology.

  12. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says


    At every stage, this woman was in the wrong. At every stage other than the decision to send this woman the glass of wine, Gale was in the wrong. He antagonized her for the sole purpose of getting attention, and in the process was a pretty big dick about it.

    It seems these two people deserve each other; it's just a pity everyone else around them had to be subjected to their little performance.

  13. Grifter says


    Why would he owe her an apology? Don't get me wrong–if she has a legitimate reason for her behavior, that's understandable. But if she was behaving poorly, and he responded to her poor behavior, that she has an excuse doesn't seem to warrant an apology.

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite:

    I disagree.

    We have:

    Bad Behavior—->Wine and note and, shortly thereafter, tiny vodka—–>Nasty hypocritical response note——>Rude insulting note——–>Threats to involve authorities——–>Nonsensically insulting note——–>Physical altercation——>Shameless self-promotion.

    Now, out of those? He pushed it with the vodka. He used an insulting turn of phrase of which I, personally, do not approve–but I think it's clear he meant it in its purely insulting sense and wasn't intending the sexualization sense (hence the nonsensically insulting note later). Meanwhile she: refused to ever admit her poor behavior, was hypocritical, and became violent.

    If she's so unstable due to her condition that she can't help herself, she needs a chaperone. If she can be responsible for her own actions, then she IS responsible for her own actions. Sure, he certainly didn't help the situation, but why was it his responsibility to do so? She was being an asshat. He pointed that out to her and gave her free booze (which she may or may not be able or willing to imbibe) as a condescendingly kind gesture. The vodka seems unwarranted, but from the tweets its clear that her behavior didn't improve–she just got mad that someone found fault with her. So he sent her vodka–based on what's presented here, the flight attendants thought it was just as much a worthy idea as he did, they just didn't want to do it themselves and risk her wrath. He was, because he's in the privileged position of not caring and being able to use it for self-promotion. Things could have been left there–but they weren't, she felt the need to try to take the high ground, and failed miserably. He responded. She threatened. He responded. She hit him.

  14. says

    My post on this went viral, much to my surprise, and something I'm noticing is a LOT of exaggeration of how rude Diane really was in the first place. If you look again at Elan Gale's first tweets he doesn't describe anything all that extraordinary. The rude bit is telling the flight attendant, "this isn't about you." But that's all there is. Everything else is just her pointing out things that apply to everyone – it's Thanksgiving, she really needs to get where she's going, her family, etc etc. It's silly and self-centered but there's nothing about shouting or abuse or ranting or swearing. She sounds more tiresome than anything else. Good comic material, if you don't identify her.

    Even you bought into it, Ken: "contemptibly rude and entitled towards airline staff" is pretty strong for what was described.

  15. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says


    In my opinion, the note accompanying the glass of whine was unnecessarily dickish, and a reasonable person would know that such a note could only escalate the situation. Everything he did was intended to rile her up, and when she responded in the entirely predictable way, he continued to escalate. Like I said, these two mopes appear to deserve each other.

  16. says

    There seem to be a great deal of wrongs here. Regardless of any "right" that may have been committed in the process, no amount of wrongs can make a right.

    (Proof by induction: Obviously, one wrong doesn't make a right, and, as the saying goes, "two wrongs don't make a right," hence, they make a wrong. Now, assume N wrongs don't make a right. If we have N+1 wrongs, any two of them can be reduced to one by noting "two wrongs don't make a right," and we have N wrongs again. Therefore, no amount of wrongs can make a right. Q.E.D.)

  17. says

    Even you bought into it, Ken: "contemptibly rude and entitled towards airline staff" is pretty strong for what was described.




  18. says

    Incidentally, when my mom had Stage IV lung cancer, she sometimes wore a mask in public (the chemo had kicked the shit out of her immune system) and she sometimes had a labile mood. Purely anecdotal, not proof.

  19. Mary says

    I really don't understand why anybody needs to side with either of these people (or why criticism of one is interpreted as support for the other).

    It's A Tale of Two Assholes, and I suspect it belongs in the Fiction section. Subcategory "Unreliable Narrator."

  20. Turk says

    If it's a douchebaggery contest, then Elan Gale wins. He deliberately provoked someone in distress for his own amusement.

  21. Mike says

    Yes, a free glass of wine with a note stating, "Hopefully if you drink it you won't be able to use your mouth to talk." Such a kind gesture.

    Given that the guy is in the business of reality television, I suspect the story is neither entirely accurate nor entirely fictional.

  22. jimmythefly says

    I wasn't entirely clear on how I felt about this whole thing until the very end, where Elan passes Diane a note that says(in part):

    "Diane, allow me to introduce myself. I am TheYearOfElan…Look me up online. Read every tweet…"


  23. freedomfan says

    Grifter, I agree with others that Gale was a jerk here. Perhaps Diane was, too. But, that's Ken's point: Neither one was acting the hero. As often as I complain about the bipolar fallacy, this is yet another example that it's a mistake to assume that every situation is divided into the good guys (or the side you like or which is "in the right" or whatever) and the bad guys on the other side. The most common situation among politicians is that both sides are wrong and, apparently, that's not a rare occurrence among airline passengers, either.

    In this case, Gale's first interaction with this woman is a note that says, in its none-too-subtle essence, "Here, I spend a few dollars so that I could tell you to shut up." So, no, he's not much of a hero. And, honestly, "eat my dick"? At least his dialog skills are well suited for reality television.

    BTW, I (and probably most people in that situation) sympathize with the impulse to tell the whining Diane to shut up. But, what Gale did – telling her to shut up while pretending to be chivalrous about it – is probably more rude than simply telling her to shut up. It's certainly worse than if he had said, "Ma'am, we would ALL like to get to where we are going; no one wants to spend Thanksgiving waiting on a plane or in an airport. But, please consider that the flight crew is dealing with delays that probably cascaded from events that took place hours ago. Complaining to flight attendants who can't fix the problem isn't getting us home faster and isn't making the flight any more pleasant for the rest of us."

  24. says

    @Grifter @AlphaCentauri If Gale owes anybody an apology, it's the attendants on that flight. He could have stayed out of it, or even tried to calm her down – maybe start swapping pictures with her of his own family that he's trying to get home to, establish some sort of "hey, lady, we're all in this together" bond.

    Instead he chose to be a self-aggrandizing ass, escalated things, and undoubtedly made a difficult situation worse for the flight attendants he was supposedly standing up for. Nice job, dickwad.

  25. That Anonymous Coward says

    It is all Diane's fault, It is all Elan's fault.
    Might I posit a 3rd possibility?
    It is societies fault.
    She was being rude, to what level we have no idea.
    He took exception to her behavior, and tweeted about it.
    What is missing from every version of the story is those people who were responding to the tweets.
    The vicarious rush we all feel when we see someone who is standing in for every rude person we see each day, put in their place.
    The slipping of the social mask that keeps us from calling an ahole an ahole in public.
    The people who were emboldened by this peek into a situation everyone can relate to, but often only take action in their fantasies after the fact. I should have, I could have, If I were there I would of…
    Now stir in the well she might have cancer badge, the sexism card, the sexual assault card (yep that one is being played out), etc.
    Sitting on the outside we are now swayed by the concern that should have been there, ignoring the bad behavior all around.
    She is now a sainted cancer patient, and he is the evil villain who went after the poor innocent who was merely slightly frustrated.

    She was being a bitch. (call me sexist all you want).
    Rather than break the social norm, he tweeted about it.
    He crossed that line at some point, possibly with the help of inflight beverage service.
    2 people then engaged in a pissing contest, that she lost when she slapped him.
    Egging on a troll… this sounds like a good plan to who?
    Had she taken the high road and stopped playing the game, she would have won. She would have had a free drink and a story to tell about some blowhard idiot on a plane.
    Now people are picking sides, a line has been drawn… your a horrible person if you giggled even a little bit about this… she has cancer!
    He sexually assaulted her!!!!

    His behavior sucked just as much as hers did… he fell to her level.
    But was his path helped by people rooting for it to satisfy our desire to put self centered people in their place?

    Or perhaps this was all just an amazing hoax… a few notes, some tweets, a couple pictures… and the net is inflamed.

    In our far to PC world, isn't it interesting how someone ignoring those PC requirements can be an hero… until someone else calls a foul on the play and we are all meant to feel bad now.

  26. Grifter says


    So he owed it to her to respond better than she'd been acting? Ignoring, for the moment, that he DID respond better than she'd been acting (I don't think that she bought any of the flight attendants wine), I don't think that's fair. Could he have been actually funny? Yup. Could he have let it drop? Also yup. But while he may be an asshat, I don't think he's in the wrong here. Responding to someone being an asshat in an asshatty way doesn't seem wrong to me–some people warrant being a dick to (cf. marketeers). Perhaps she wasn't really being an asshat, and if so, yeah, he's wrong. But if she WAS being an asshat, him being a jerk to her in the way the exchange began doesn't seem ridiculous, and save for the vodka all of his responses were responses to her (for example, while, as I've said, I'm not a fan of the "eat my dick" school of insults, she is the one who brought his family into it).

  27. Kelly says

    I recommend that you read all of @Sammlevine 's tweets from yesterday about being on a flight with someone who had a diabetic emergency. A funny parody of the Elan/Diane thread.

  28. Irk says

    I'm leaning towards "fake", what with "Elan" already having used the "I'm gonna livetweet a woman's hysteric antics" trope a few times before.

    Awaiting handwriting analysis. Zoom… enhance.

  29. GoingDigital says

    As a recovering cancer patient myself, I can confirm that chemotherapy can have a serious effect on your emotions, your thought processes and memory. Its a horrible time to travel, but it could also be your last ever chance to see your family. Anyone acting like a troll might a) be very seriously sick, b) be under immense stress, or c) be a troll. Don't ever assume you can tell which is which. We can hide it well.

    If Mr. Gale had made a nice out-of-the-blue gesture, that could have made everyones day and diffused the situation. He didn't. I therefore conclude he also falls into one of categories a,b or c above.

  30. Grifter says


    But will you make a gui interface in visual basic to see if you can track the IP address? (My other favorite WTF technobabble plot device)

  31. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says

    Elan sure is getting all the attention he hoped for.

    Yeah, I laughed, at least until I got to "eat my dick." "Crude" is not equal to "funny." Worse, while shining light on bad behavior may be a way to stop it, escalating just leads to war.

    I'm not convinced Diane is sick, though–it seems to me that if she were, she'd have played the cancer card as her best shot at receiving preferential treatment.

  32. says

    She is now a sainted cancer patient, and he is the evil villain who went after the poor innocent who was merely slightly frustrated.

    She was being a bitch. (call me sexist all you want).

    Where is there anything that calls her "sainted"?

    Where is there anything before Gale's interventions that demonstrates that she was being a bitch?

    She was complaining about a situation that was bad for everyone. She rudely told a flight attendant "it's not about you."

    Is that really "being a bitch"?

    It seems like a very damn low bar, to me.

  33. FitzJames says

    As I see it, all we have is Gale's word that "Diane" was being an asshat… We have confirmed proof that Gale was.

  34. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says


    So he owed it to her to respond better than she'd been acting?

    Only if he expects to be hailed as a folk hero and witty champion of good behavior. Which he clearly, desperately, does.

  35. freedomfan says


    So he owed it to her to respond better than she'd been acting? Ignoring, for the moment, that he DID respond better than she'd been acting (I don't think that she bought any of the flight attendants wine), I don't think that's fair. Could he have been actually funny? Yup. Could he have let it drop? Also yup. But while he may be an asshat, I don't think he's in the wrong here.

    I didn't say he owed her a courteous or pleasant interaction. Frankly, he didn't owe her any response at all, though I suggested a way to phrase things that had some slight potential to be more productive, if he felt compelled to respond. (Sidenote: the term "response" isn't the best fit here, since she wasn't initially addressing him at all. He initiated their exchange.)

    But, the rude response he volunteered was his part of the exchange and he's responsible for it. His own jackassery isn't much diminished just because Diane was a jackass to someone else before he was. (And, BTW, I doubt that the flight crew needs random dudes provoking brittle passengers. It really isn't making their jobs any easier.) Diane's jackassery is even less mitigating because Elan wasn't making anything better by baiting her in that way. Teasing a whining brat isn't a great way to get it to be quiet. Even if this wasn't all a stunt so that Elan would have something to tweet about, he was unironically using Diane as an outlet for his frustrations in the same way that she was using the flight crew.

    And, BTW, the glass of wine is a canard as any sort of mitigating factor. He bought her a glass of wine in order that he could insult her. Period. He wasn't being nice. He was telling her to shut up and he was willing to spend $7 on a prop to do it. So, no, he wasn't being better than Diane.

    They were both asshats and both did something wrong in that situation. The error is in thinking that one of them had to be in the right.

  36. melk says

    Offtopic: Cancer treatment and memory

    A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer (lung and other) in February. With a diagnosis of mere weeks, she decided to re-read one of her favorite series. Time passed, and chemo treatments were fairly successful. Recently, she started re-reading the series again. She tells me that the story makes a lot more sense now, when her prognosis is better, and when she's not suffering as many problems from the cancer+treatments as she had back in February.

  37. sinij says

    "Someone was rude on Twitter" is new "someone was wrong on the Internet". More things change, more they stay the same.

  38. David says

    During a football game, if a player commits unsportsmanlike conduct, it is almost always the opposing play who retaliates who gets flagged. Diane behaved poorly, yes, but it was the flight attendants' job to deal with her, and they did so exactly, I am sure, as they were trained to do. It was not Elan's job or place to get involved.

    As Miss Manners has oft asserted, "It is never proper to respond to rudeness with rudeness." Mr. Gale would have been well-served to remember that.

  39. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Ophelia Benson – There are posts out there where she gains the sainted title. That her cancer is a magic kingdom easy pass for her behavior. That telling her to 'eat a dick' is sexual assault, and we should all feel bad that it was done. She has become bigger than life, a symbol of evil men with twitter accounts who will target sick women and make them a mockery… she is the poster child if she wants it or not. Never underestimate peoples ability to use events for their own agenda.

    Her behavior, from the lens provided, got worse and worse. It was all about her and they needed to hop to make her happy. When they finally got boarded she was still being huffy, according to the imperfect lens. We might not have the same definition but that is what makes the world wonderful.

    I am more entertained by the people outside of the event who want it to stand for much more than it was. It was a circle of bad behavior that fed on itself with extra egging on from social media… or a giant hoax where everyone is more sure they are right because reasons.

  40. Frank says

    To expound a little bit on what That Anonymous Coward said above…

    I have a fairly thick hide when it comes to people being a dick to me. I was raised in that environment. My dad is King of All Dicks….heheh

    Anyhow, some people are not "mentally equipped" to handle being treated like a dick by someone. It really causes them consternation (how's that for today's five dollar word?). Being the non-PC person that I am, I will usually call a person out when I see that they're being a dick to, or bullying, someone that can obviously not handle it that well themselves.

    I do this for a couple of reasons. The biggest being the satisfaction of "beating up on" a bully. Most bullies can't handle being treated the way that they treat others. But the more important factor for me is that it diverts the attention of the bully from someone that can't handle it to someone that can handle it. Me. More often than not, I end up getting a thank you from the person that was the original "victim" of said bully.

    That said, I don't run around posting on Facebook or any of the myriad of other social networking sites after having done so. I didn't do it for the "accolades". I did it to make someone else's day a little bit brighter.

  41. freedomfan says

    BTW, I think Diane and and Elan were both out of line in this situation and I have been agreeing with (what I see as) Ken's main point that just because someone on one side of a conflict is rude, it doesn't mean that anyone on the other side wasn't rude. But, I want to make clear that I don't see either Diane or Elan as generally terrible people from what was presented in the story. Just people who, for whatever reasons, exhibited some rude behavior during a frustrating, delayed airline flight during a busy travel holiday. Most anyone who flies regularly can certainly understand that temptation.

  42. says

    Ken, I think you might be missing some sarcasm in Elan's tweets today. Not that he's free of taint in this whole thing (he frankly kicked it up into douchebaggery level along the way), but in context, I don't really think the supposed indignation you're seeing is real.

    Let's face it, the guy makes his money producing some of the most horrible twaddle on television. He's not a saint by any stretch of the imagination. But I wouldn't take him seriously on his responses yesterday and today.

  43. princessartemis says

    @Grifter, quite literally serving someone a tall glass of STFU is in no way a kind gesture.

  44. ZarroTsu says


    But I wouldn't take him seriously on his responses yesterday and today.

    …And yet he takes himself seriously, considering he can't get over it…

    On the other hand… No, no, I'll let that joke finish itself.

  45. That Anonymous Coward says

    @Frank – Heh I go after bullies, but I post about it… a lot. But I have good reason to, it is encouragement for people those bullies have threatened. While I've not, that I remember, told any of them to eat a dick I am a wee bit harsh. I haven't faced much, if any, backlash for my 'bad' behavior from the online community. Perhaps it is merely because my targets are less likeable, or seem more deserving of it.

    Perhaps this explains my different view of the situation.

  46. Eric Stein says

    Late as usual, but I couldn't help noticing (not true. I could have chosen to something else) that nobody commented on the two datapoint that struck me like one of those things you hit a gong with. The two points are "7A" and "entitled". A third point would be that I remember reading that Diane was seated a few rows behind Elan. Conclusion: these events took place in the First Class section of the aircraft.


  47. C. S. P. Schofield says

    I propose the following lesson;

    If you are even remotely famous, any witty remark you think would be a swell idea to post on any form of social media probably isn't.

  48. SPQR says

    Diane, if she was indeed a rude person, was rude to a few airline staff with an audience of a dozen. She demonstrated the deficiencies of her character – if she actually had such – to a double handful of people.

    Elan decided that the entire world needed to know that she might be a rude person and that he actually was a clown.

    Perspective – Elan ain't got any.

  49. Chris says

    If you are even remotely famous, any witty remark you think would be a swell idea to post on any form of social media probably isn't.

    I don't think you need to be famous for this to be good advice.

  50. AlphaCentauri says

    The photo he showed of row 7A looked a little crowded to be first class. I would be surprised if it is. But row 2 definitely would have been.

    Does that mean he didn't even have to pay for the drinks he sent her?

  51. htom says

    I'd put it that she behaved poorly (with a possible, not probable) excuse, while he behaved badly, and has no excuse. Further, he's doubling down on his badness. So he's the bigger douche-bag. Not a title I'd ever be interested in.

  52. Xenocles says

    @Eric Stein-

    One of Elan's pictures from HuffPo shows three seats, 7 A, B, and C. I won't claim to be familiar with all commercial aircraft by any stretch, but I've yet to see one with three seats outboard in a premium class. Some of the United 777s I've seen have three in the middle in business, but even then it's two on the outer sides. I don't think it was first.

    In fact, I'd guess it was a US Air A319/320 or a B737. Both of those only have three rows of first.


    On further review, the glass and Elan's tray table seen in another picture do suggest some sort of premium class for him. So I agree with AlCent's assessment.

  53. Irk says

    Interesting he never mentions the reactions of the people in the aisle and middle seats that he would have had to lean over to drop off his vodka.

  54. Marconi Darwin says

    Bizarrely enough the PuffHo considers the unfunny douchebag a hero.

    I remember reading that article twice because I thought I missed something, because all I found was an irritated woman reportedly being rude, and a celebrity pushing his luck.

    What if Diane was a man instead of a woman? "Eat my dick" might not have been uttered.

  55. Edward says

    Reminds me of the Adria Richards thing. Funny how some of the same people who attack this guy defended her. The vast majority of people like it when rude people get comeuppance, me included.

  56. EAB says

    I took a business trip back in April which turned into a twenty-hour ordeal and threatened to result in my missing the panel on which I was being paid to speak. I was on crutches shortly after ankle surgery at the time, and after the third cancellation and subsequent major gate change up and down the concourse (plus a bonus pratfall and skinned knuckles), I was just about done with it all. I usually try really hard to be polite, and I had taken the first six hours and two cancellations with good cheer, but I just ran out of niceness. I was exhausted and stressed and in a hell of a lot of pain, and while I wasn't rude per se, I got teary and upset at the customer service people. Not my finest moment for sure.

    We all have our limits, and the modern airline system sometimes seems like it's designed expressly to force us beyond them. A five-minute snapshot of someone's behavior can't tell you anything about a preceding massive sequence of frustrations. Think about what it would take to make you personally behave like a jerk, and you can be pretty sure that the airlines have done exactly that to someone today.

    Diane probably could have behaved better, sure, but it's a lot more likely that she had good reason to be frustrated. Elan, on the other hand, was just looking to see how big a scene he could cause on Twitter by being cruel. I'll take momentary rudeness over deliberate hatefulness any day.

  57. says

    Bizarrely enough the PuffHo considers the unfunny douchebag a hero.

    That's one of the things that most stuck out to me on….Thanksgiving? The day after? When people started posting links to stories about this like mad on Facebook. Approving links, to approving stories. Haha, semi-famous guy live-tweeted schooling some rude lady on a plane!

    Except all you have to do is read the tweets to see that that's not really what happened at all. It's more like, semi-famous guy takes it upon himself to live-tweet being an utter douche to a woman on a plane who was somewhat irritable to someone else entirely– the flight staff– and then couldn't be more self-congratulatory about it. Even if the woman in question is assumed to be at the peak of health, that seems like a story that would turn the stomach of most people rather than making them laugh.


    1. People love a story of a rude person getting what they believe to be a come-uppance, and it doesn't seem to matter where it comes from or how severe it is in comparison to the original rudeness.

    2. This is probably exacerbated when we're talking about a situation on a holiday, when people are theoretically supposed to be nicer to each other, on a plane when they realistically aren't.

    3. As Ophelia wrote in her post today, "But a lot of people are reading backwards. They hated Diane as soon as Elan started tweeting about her, or as soon as they read his first tweets about her, and then they read awfulness back into her behavior to justify their hatred." Self-justification exists in lots of things, including vicarious spite against some totally anonymous person that someone you don't even know is tweeting about, which I guess is the agreement you make with that person in exchange for being given the privilege of taking part in their personal campaign of antagonizing a rude woman on a plane.

    Those are just some ideas, anyway. I also was taken aback to see so many people applauding such douchebaggery, and have been trying to explain it.

  58. Marconi Darwin says

    @Gretchen, I look at that chair in the tweet and for some reason all I see is a Geraldo selfie.

    Woe is me!

  59. Not buying it says

    I'd like to think the entire thing is a hoax.

    Of course Elan can't admit that now 'cause it would make all his new Twitter fans look pretty dumb. That's my theory . . .

  60. Bob Brown says

    I don't fly very much any more because TSA thuggery, but there was a time when I couldn't get out of it. I watched some asshat passenger (try to) rip a gate agent a new one, ending with, "I'll never fly Delta again!" The gate agent, being well trained, did not say, "Promise!?!" which is, of course, what I would have said.

    When it was all over, I went up to the desk and said, "I saw that, and I just want you to know that if Delta doesn't go there, neither do I."

    I got a handful of drink vouchers, each good for a glass of wine or booze, so many that it took a couple of trips to use them up.

    Note that I neither interjected myself into the original discussion nor defended the gate agent's actions, only his employer.

    Of course, it wouldn't make for reality teevee unless you filmed me from ATL to ABQ with vouchers for more bloody Marys than the airplane had on board. (It wasn't a pretty sight; trust me.)

  61. That Anonymous Coward says

    Of course now everyone will wonder if he started the cancer thing, or if it was someone else trying to shame him…
    or is the reveal the lie and out there is someone dying of cancer who can't bring herself to call him an ass online…

    Social Media Lesson 3 – Everyone can get spun.

  62. steve says

    He had his two seconds of fame on the internet; some cheered him and some jeered him. Time to kick him off the stage and left the next fool take his place.

  63. says

    @ Grifter

    Your understanding of ethics is the only thing lower than your understanding of logic.
    I'd tell you to eat my dick, but it's 50-50 you might enjoy the idea of doing so, thus I'll refrain.
    Elan Gale is a douche and will die a douche. I never heard of him before now and frankly, I hope I never hear of him again.

  64. markm says

    Not everyone can safely consume alcohol. Quite aside from the note, sending a stranger a drink may be a douchebag move in itself.

  65. Xenocles says

    "So he owed it to her to respond better than she'd been acting?"

    So here's the central question, courtesy of Grifter.

    No, I don't think he owed her anything. But perhaps he owed it to himself to behave well independently of the behavior of anyone he was talking to. Let's assume everything happened as Gale portrayed it (which seems to be totally false but is still perhaps a good vehicle for learning). What did he accomplish that made the world better? He didn't shame anyone into better behavior with his tweets – Diane is a common enough name and there were no pictures. He doesn't seem to have relieved anyone of the burdens they were struggling with – part of his story was the flight attendant subtly asking him to stop poking Diane, and I can't imagine the people stuck next to her were enjoying her escalating rage and/or distress.

    I think we all harbor these fantasies of petty revenge for petty offenses – I know I've slowed down for tailgaters in the past, for instance. But I have to wonder if it was really worth it. Do they really have any beneficial effect? The most I can see is that they make us feel good for a while at other people's expense – and I'm not sure that's a good thing on balance.

    I'm not saying we should never intervene. But we have to ask ourselves what the goal is. Is the goal to actually affect a change in behavior, or just to righteously hurt someone? If it's the former, you really need to examine the effectiveness of your tactics. Being treated rudely and abrasively by a stranger is not helpful in bringing about introspection and self-reform. (Yes, the other person always has the choice to change on his own, but you also have the choice to help him or to hinder him!) If it's the latter, you might be well-served to give action a second thought.

  66. LadyTL says

    @Gretchen – Being snarky or irritable with employees who can't actually do anything to address the problem you are having when they have been only polite to you is rude. It's not like they are allowed to respond like normal people would. As portrayed, fake or not, Diane was being rude and on a power trip by complaining at the flight staff. Flight staff do not have the magic ability to resolve delays if someone complains enough.

  67. Grifter says

    @G. Filotto:

    I don't swing that way, so no, I wouldn't enjoy it. I'd explain to you how wrong you are, but it's clear that "rational discourse" is not your strong suit. I'll just note that, were this story true, she is the one who became physical and struck him–which makes her in the wrong, period fullstop, and everything else just window dressing.

    @Doc Railgun, Xenocles, etc.

    How do you differentiate this behavior (which all seems now to have been hoaxy, of course) from, say, sending snarky notes about ponies to marketeers?

  68. Xenocles says


    I guess there isn't much difference in many ways. Perhaps there might be one in effectiveness; that by sending notes to scammers/marketeers you distract them from their efforts against softer targets. Maybe not.

    If you're suggesting I'm hypocritical, I do not deny it.

  69. Grifter says


    I wasn't trying to suggest hypocrisy–but I was trying to find the "root difference", if you'll forgive the made-up term. Because it's clear that a lot of folks do see a difference. And sure, there's differences: Ken is talented, Elan is not, with the corrolary that Ken is funny, Elan is not. But in terms of simple actions, I'm not seeing a vast difference (again, taking events as true for the sake of argument despite the fact it's become clear they did not happen). Is it the "eat my dick"? Because I can see that as offensive, but I also know that it's a relatively common insult, and not really intended to be sexual necessarily (if this guy's got a history as a misogynist doucher, then interpreting it that way makes more sense).

    When I tell someone to eat a bowl of dicks, their gender and sexual preference is immaterial–while phrasing it as to eat his OWN dick makes it worse and, to me understandably offensive, I was interpreting it in that vein, that of a straight-up-insult, in response to her bringing his family into it. It's crude. It's not witty. But it's a response to behavior from the other party, and we can't all keep our cool entirely, so it's about whether the response is proportional.

    What I do think IS kind of pathetic is that, since this seems to have been a hoax, he did a poor job of it, because not only is it not funny (which is more understandable when it's "off the cuff"), but I think considering he got to make the situation up and put himself in whatever light he wanted to, he could have done a much better job of doing so.

  70. says

    No, I don't think he owed her anything. But perhaps he owed it to himself to behave well independently of the behavior of anyone he was talking to

    That's the crux of it. He found himself in/constructed a scenario in which he had three choices:

    1) Put in his earbuds and ignore Diane, which makes the trip neither better nor worse for everyone else on the plane

    2) Attempt to empathize with Diane and calm her down, and try to make the trip better for everyone else on the plane

    3) Be an asshole to Diane, and make the trip worse for everyone else on the plane

    He's now pegged himself as someone who chooses door number 3. I can't speak for anyone else, but I would much sooner be stuck on a long plane layover with a Diane than with an insufferable twit like that.

  71. says

    Grifter, the big difference between those scenarios to me is that Twitface interjected himself into a situation on the plane that didn't directly involve him.

    Ken responding in whatever manner he chooses to an email sent to him personally is a pony of a different color.

  72. Grifter says

    @Anton Sirius:

    Well, I agree the original behavior wasn't specifically directed at him–but it was also interpersonal communication in a small space, so it's not as though it didn't impact him at all.

    But the main difference to you, then, is that he interjected himself? If it had been directed at him, it would have been fine, or had a flight attendant done this (from some non-customer-service airline like Ryan or something), it would have been fine?

  73. Xenocles says


    I don't disagree, but I don't have a hard answer, either. So much depends on the details.

  74. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries says


    Everyone is getting a big Judith Martin book for Christmas.

    You're my new favorite.


    …she is the one who became physical and struck him–which makes her in the wrong, period fullstop, and everything else just window dressing.

    This perspective reverses the sequence of events: b is a consequence of a, so b caused a.

    Say what?

    You're right–Diane shouldn't have hit him. But it wasn't a random whack–she was sorely provoked. Worse, she never did anything to him before his provocation began. Her bad behavior was directed at the flight attendant, and Elan witnessed it, so he took it upon himself to punish her.

    Of course, none of it happened, so I'm not sure why anyone is still talking about it (including me).

  75. says

    LadyTL said:

    @Gretchen – Being snarky or irritable with employees who can't actually do anything to address the problem you are having when they have been only polite to you is rude.

    Yeah, I said that already.

    If you think I'm on Diane's "side" (scare quotes because 1. There don't have to be sides, and 2. There apparently is no Diane), either you haven't read my posts or you didn't properly read what Ken said about douchebaggery not being a zero sum game, or both.

    Boo, Elan ! = Rah, Diane

  76. Grifter says

    @Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries:

    Apologies if I wasn't clear. I wasn't saying her hitting him somehow went back in time and justified anything (you're right to indicate that makes no sense).

    What I was trying to say was that: she hit him without cause ("sorely provoked" is a vast overstatement *edited to add* in regards to physical violence**). She is fully in the wrong for that. Everything else is petty bickering (I called it "window dressing").

  77. Irk says

    Deconstructing the story for crowd manipulation, the slap was one of the most unbelievable parts. (Seriously, the gate attendant just casually restraining her and then asking Elan if he wants to press charges, like suddenly he's a cop? And then casually answering if she's getting to her connection, like he has any knowledge of what gate she's getting to? It's so acted-out, I would expect more incredulity from the attendant. Stunning writing prowess from the producer of Cookin' With Coolio.) But the reason it's in there is to definitively strip the woman of any question of being in the right. With her doing the slap at the end, Elam gets most of the automatic crowd approval in the live play-by-play, whereas if she'd just used her words, it would have probably seemed a lot more like a troll baiting an angry person and then them having a shouting match.

    His story of bothering the girl next door ended in something similar, where she duct-taped his door shut while he was out on vacation. With a final act of physical/property-based retribution against him, he can emerge as the victor. It's like a playground bully finally getting hit in response. Usually in that case the victim gets in trouble, and the bully never gets comeuppance for their words. Even when two wrongs have been committed, society has a tendency to round up to the greater wrong and valorize the "less wrong" person left afterward.

    I saw Elan is teasing people for their analyses of the situation now that it was fake, but the story he told says a bit about society and a bit about himself. If some interesting analysis comes out of it, then I think more has been accomplished than a few cheap laughs over a woman being hysterical.

    EDITS: Words, how do they work.

  78. Grifter says

    I have little to no interest in going somewhere and viewing his history, but clearly some other folks have–do all of these fake stories (including the ones that he may not have admitted are fake?) have a woman as the antagonist?

  79. Grifter says

    Ah, the Tucker Max school of "I'll tell stories about those crazy women w/ their vaginas and such and will make myself super kewl because I am awesome".


    I retract my defense of the "eat my dick" comment, which now seems just part and parcel of misogyny rather than a phrasing issue. That's what I get for giving the benefit of the doubt, I suppose.

    Thanks, Irk.

  80. Dan says

    His day job is to make up drama and pass it off as reality. This story is such obvious bullshit I can smell it from Wisconsin.

  81. says

    Well, he had me going for a while. Moving Elan firmly over into the asshat category.

    Of course, I guess I should have expected it given that his day job is inflicting horrible dreck like The Bachelor(ette) upon a populace who really doesn't need the help being stupid.

  82. Shropshire Blue says

    I have always felt American-style reality television producers must be a bunch of psychopaths.

    This Elan Gale guy adds ammunition to my belief.