Column writing is a lot like cooking spaghetti. You boil up an idea and then see if it sticks to the refrigerator. Last week I threw "sky rage" and the Internet at the fridge, and it seems to have stuck to a number of readers, prompting an unusually high number of responses. As usual, they ranged from the sublime to the vicious.
While some of my observations were tongue-in-cheek, I did intend to take a serious look at yet another way the Internet economy has affected our culture. And while I didn't suggest any direct cause-and-effect between the Web and sky rage, many readers did acknowledge an indirect relationship. (I definitely blew it, however, on what was most commonly flagged as a source of rage: the no-smoking sign.)
Here's a sampling of the responses:
It's got nothing to do with the Internet. Any industry that treats its customers so appallingly as the airlines do should expect some backlash. Stuff 20 cats in a box and see if they fight. Stuff 20 airline executives in a box and see if the results are any different. -- William Emanuelsen
Because of the strong U.S. economic expansion, and the deregulation of the airlines, more people can afford to fly. Because of increased globalization of business, more people have to fly on business. Perhaps the increase in violent behavior is caused by a change in passenger demographics. -- Michael I. Handler
What I experienced is poor ventilation, and am wondering whether this may be a contributing factor in an antisocial behavior. After all, it is a well known fact that the sense of well-being depends on the brain's oxygen supply. -- Avia Eyllon
Trying to blame something like the Internet for sky rage or road rage or any sort of rage ... is pretty silly. The facts are that the population is out of control and nobody wants to do anything about it. ... The simple truth is that America wants ultimate accessibility as long as they are not inconvenienced at all. -- John Roy
A lot more than the Internet has changed over the past few years. Simple stress, more to do, less time, both spouses working (so both spouses stressed and time-pressed), chores and responsibilities that pile up and never seem to get done. ... This has far, far more to do with people losing it than the lack of opportunity to flame someone. -- Lynda Gutierrez
I've never experienced, nor been a victim of, sky rage; however, while the ideas in your story ring true, there is yet another aspect to the Internet that causes people to go off the deep end. Consider that we are in a much higher-pressure, results-oriented society today than in the past, largely due to the Internet. -- Michael D. Coles
You overlooked a more obvious reason for sky rage: the booming economy. For example, I took a flight from Long Beach, Calif., to Dallas in February 1993. My associate and I were the only passengers in the coach section. It was like having our own private jet. Now the opposite is occurring. The economy is growing faster than the airlines can add new planes. Flights are crowded, and the flight attendants can't get to everyone promptly. I hate flying now, but it is often a necessary evil. -- Rick Cook
And a couple of favorites that I just couldn't resist sharing:
They should put Linux on planes. Linux and open-source software is so great that I shouldn't have to walk five feet without having Linux. Better yet, we should videoconference instead of taking plane flights. Linux is the perfect platform for Internet videoconferencing. -- Lucas, from Sweden
This article was a waste of my [expletive deleted] time, what ludicrous [expletive deleted].
See you in the skies.
Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.