By now, virtually everyone has seen the video of Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight after he was one of four passengers randomly chosen to give up their seats on the overbooked flight so that several flight attendants could be transported back to Louisville, KY. More than enough people have already debated whether Dr. Dao was right in refusing to leave the plane or if it was proper for the airline to have security remove him. As unfortunate as the incident was, what struck me most was that tensions escalated so high, and yet most people on that plane didn’t realize they had the power to prevent it.
Camera Phone Culture Leaves Us Disempowered and Deactivated
It seems sad, but not surprising, that instead of standing up and offering their seat to one of the flight attendants so Dr. Dao could stay on the plane, hundreds of people remained seated and watched the unfortunate scene unfold. Worse yet, many of them took out their phones to film the altercation instead of empowering themselves to remedy it. I suppose that’s the voyeuristic and narcissistic influence of our camera phone culture that would rather document what’s happening instead of being a part of it. It’s the feeling of temporary importance we get when we share sensationalistic videos online like the ones taken of Dr. Dao saying, “Hey, look what I saw,” instead of telling friends, “Let me tell you what I did.” Unfortunately, camera phone culture leaves us disempowered and deactivated, outside observers to our own lives instead of being active participants in them. It’s a titillating, but largely passive, way of living.
As a society, we’ve missed out on what it means to cultivate human beings who grow up to be agents of peace in the world. Every day we’re presented with opportunities to step forward and introduce a deeper level of loving into a situation instead of creating more conflict. This was the opportunity that was lost on that plane.
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