By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent incident involving actor Alec Baldwin and American Airlines. His flight delayed and sitting on the runway, Baldwin decided to bide his time by playing the Internet game Words with Friends. This, however, was in violation of the airline’s rule that passengers put away all phones and electronic devices. When a flight attendant asked him to stop, Baldwin apparently lost his cool and was abusive, culminating in his ejection from the flight and an even longer delay for his fellow passengers. The Emmy winner has since mocked the airline on Twitter and on this past weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” broadcast.
I can understand Baldwin getting frustrated by the airline’s policy, especially if they were not in flight. His flight was delayed, he wanted to keep himself occupied, and it no doubt seemed harmless. But even if we don’t think rules are arbitrary (as Baldwin pointed out on “SNL,” would we board a 747 if we thought it could be brought down by a single Kindle switch?), they are rules and should be respected. If you don’t like the rule, start a petition or lobby the people who are responsible for making it. Don’t abuse the poor person who has been charged with enforcing it. Losing his temper, acting nasty towards a flight attendant, and then getting thrown off the flight doesn’t make Baldwin look like a fearless warrior for logic—it makes him look like a belligerent and entitled prima donna. And the fact that the passengers who followed the rules had to endure an even longer delay because of his antics is shameful.
We all have moments when we feel like we are getting the runaround, or that we know better. But you really have to ask yourself if getting riled up if worth it. If it involves being abusive to another person or losing all sense of civility, I’d say no. “Being right” doesn’t feel so great when you know you let yourself down.