What We Can Learn from the United Airlines & Leggings Fiasco

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United Airlines Teens Leggings Banned from FlightUnless you’re living under a rock, you’re well aware of the recent uproar and backlash on social media surrounding United Airlines and the 2 children who were barred from a flight for wearing leggings.

You know how it started?  A tweet.  One single tweet by a passenger who didn’t know what was going on.  Other news stories mention the twitter account and show the tweet.   I’m not even going to give this person the time of day.  As a result, we saw headlines such as “United Airlines Bars Teenage Girls in Leggings from Flight”, or “Teens Kicked Off United Airlines Flight for Wearing Leggings”.  Even local and national news anchors were reporting it this way.

The problem?  The media compounded things by being irresponsible.  Those headlines were SO misleading that it just fueled a fire that shouldn’t have been started in the first place.  The end result was typical.  Unnecessary attacks on United Airlines.  People making the usual uneducated comments and starting fights with each other on social media.  The facts were in the stories.  The more accurate headline should have read: “Children of United Employees Barred from Flight for Ignoring Dress Code”.  Boom!  This would have taken the conversation in a whole different direction.

The fact is the 2 children in question were daughters of United Airlines employees.  They were flying on employee passes.  As a result, they were required to FOLLOW THE RULES and abide by the employee dress code. They chose NOT TO FOLLOW THE RULES and were kicked off the flight.  I blame the parents because they KNEW THE RULES and chose not to “parent”. Breaking rules comes with consequences.  THAT is what the conversation should have been about! …not whether or not it’s OK to wear leggings on a flight.  That’s NOT what this was about.  Not even close.

What can we learn from this?

  1. SHUT UP and don’t post unless you KNOW what’s going on!  One person created a firestorm with an irresponsible use of social media.
  2. Stop falling for headlines that are meant to “bait” you into a quick response.  More times than not, your comments will be off topic and you’ll just look stupid.
  3. Read the story.  Read more than one story.  Collect information and educate yourself before sharing an opinion.  You’ll look more intelligent that way.
  4. This was a missed opportunity.  It’s sad… we get so hell bent on the idea that we can do what we want whenever we want because we’re “free”.  You know what?  We ARE free. We’re FREE to CHOOSE whether or not we want to follow rules.  The majority of the conversation was about the “right” for people to wear what they want when, in fact, it SHOULD have been about rules, guidelines, and the repercussions that come from NOT following rules.

Social Media is VERY powerful.  We see examples of that power every single day.  We see the misuse of that power as well.  Social Media can be extremely helpful.  It can help us form relationships that we wouldn’t be able to form otherwise.  Social Media can be informative and educational.  YOU have the power to start and control the conversation… but only if you know what the hell you’re talking about!  Let’s be smart and responsible while we’re using these platforms.  Let’s not be part of the problem.  Let’s not make this mistake again.

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