Over the long holiday weekend, America followed its annual binging with the cathartic purge of watching people tear into each other—first through the gladiatorial spectacle of #WalmartFights, then through a pair of Twitter throwdowns that helped release vicariously all those emotions pent up by the forced niceties of family time and commercial travel. The Internet delighted in a producer from The Bachelor toying with a rude woman on his flight. It laughed as a comedian waged surprisingly byzantine war against a salsa company. And then, inevitably, it turned on itself, spawning countless angry counterpoint articles and arguments over whether any of this was real, because that is the next inevitable stage in the processing of any viral story, just before creating a petition.
In the case of Bachelor producer Elan Gale, his live-tweeted tale of tormenting “Diane In 7A”—a woman whose loud protestations at their flight being delayed on Thanksgiving made her the embodiment of all rude, entitled airline passengers—became a hit because it captured the feelings of so many who strive for compassion in an increasingly self-centered world. But it also immediately spawned a backlash from those who lamented that Gale’s mission to spread a message of “Be nice” was undertaken by telling a strange woman to eat his dick.
There was also the assertion, made by an alleged “relative” in the comments on the Storify that compiled Gale’s tweets, that “Diane” was a terminally ill cancer patient just trying to get home for what would likely be her last Thanksgiving, hence her emotional volatility. And as more and more people dug into it, they found plenty of other things to get outraged about: the sexism of telling a woman to eat some dick as a means of shutting her up; the hypocrisy of trying to teach someone about being calm and polite by fucking with them repeatedly; the overall exhaustion with the cycle of viral stories, their attendant backlash, the articles summing up that backlash, etc.
And naturally, inevitably, there was also the question of whether it was all just a hoax. It doesn’t help that there are plenty of details about Gale’s story that seem suspect: That the crew would so willingly participate in his scheme, including first bringing him the glass of wine he wanted sent to her, just so he could photograph it. That either the crew or their fellow passengers would help pass notes between the two, just so he could continue to rile an already demonstrably upset Diane. That no one in the flight crew or at LAX apparently filed an official report regarding Diane slapping him. And so on.
Even Gale’s self-proclaimed “pal,” Melissa Stetten—who snared her own viral fame by live-tweeting a plane conversation with a conceited actor who was hitting on her—asked why no one was questioning its legitimacy, pointing to numerous other, similarly note-based “confrontations” Gale’s posted over the years. For the time being, however, Gale stands by his story as absolute reality, as only a producer of The Bachelor can define it.
But that very quickly didn’t matter, because then we all immediately moved on to Kyle Kinane’s war with Pace Picante, wherein the comedian took on the social media presence of the salsa giant, and uncovered what appeared to be a vast saga of spicy corporate intrigue. After noticing that Pace—a company that humorously advocates the lynching of anyone eating anything besides their Texas-bred pepper slurry—had favorited one of his tweets insulting it, Kinane proceeded to spend the next several hours testing newer, ever more obscene attacks, all of which Pace’s account also favorited. (“I wouldn't rub Pace Picante-brand salsa on my asshole if my turds came out on fire,” went one such automatically favorited endorsement.)
Eventually, alleged Pace employees began reaching out to Kinane via direct messages—all of which Kinane then retweeted to his followers. One sympathetic employee, after trying to prove he was hip to Kinane’s comedy, was then allegedly sent home early, leading to a bizarre series of twists in which it seemed he’d been fired, went rogue by taking over the Pace account, then was ostensibly framed by another fake Twitter account created in his name. The whole story—far richer and more complex than anything Pace has ever produced—eventually untangled, as Pace announced it had suffered a “glitch” and had its account “compromised,” before saying that it believed it was now necessary to delete the account “until we can sort all of this out.”
It was branded a “social media disaster” and, like the “Diane In 7A” incident, made the rounds everywhere, as yet another example of a prankster ingeniously fucking with the frustratingly tone-deaf. But in this case, it was all really, definitely fake: First Pace’s corporate overlord Campbell confirmed that Pace doesn’t even have a Twitter presence. Then Kinane himself revealed on Twitter that he’d been had by “master prankster” Randy Liedtke, a fellow comedian and co-host of The Bone Zone podcast. “Sorry. I wanted it to be real too,” Kinane said, summing up the general attitude about everything we read on the Internet now. But alas, as we have learned time and again, everything on the Internet is a lie.
In a related story, before the invention of Twitter, it’s believed that humans channeled their observations about human behavior and creative energies into works of entertainment that didn’t immediately make everyone involved feel like assholes.