#BoycottJetBlue: Social Media Makes Davids Into Goliaths

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YouTube star Matthew Lush got kicked off JetBlue Airlines after a Twitter campaign to slam the company went viral.

For this story to make any sense at all, you first have to get a fair assessment of the facts. Too often, we spring to anger when rational and cool-headed collectiveness would suffice. The facts: A JetBlue customer with a major social media presence was offput by a corporation’s longstanding and corporate-wide policy. The customer made a lot of noise on social media and got the hashtag #BoycottJetBlue trending. JetBlue decided the PR headache wasn’t worth it and banned the customer from flying with them. That’s where we stand now. The incidentals are that the customer, Matthew Lush, is gay. Also, that he called out the JetBlue customer service rep by name and employee number on Twitter and associated her with the totally evil Regina George from Mean Girls. Many publications are now calling him a brat because the ticket was nonrefundable (for anyone — not just him or other gay people). But without the power of social media, this would be a non-story. So it deserves a closer analysis than the surface treatment it has been given by other media thus far.

 

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Matthew Lush was not removed from the flight as he and many others have postulated because he was gay. This isn’t a fact, just an opinion, but the gay rights push suffers when people leap to this sort of conclusion — and that isn’t fair to everyone involved with gay rights. Matthew Lush would have just been another nameless victim of corporate policy except for the massive social media following he commands, which includes over 800,000 followers on Twitter, over 500,000 YouTube followers on his channel Gay God and another 700,000 on his channel Lush. So the guy has cache in social media. And therefore, when he makes videos like the one below, it can be very damaging.

As Spiderman said, with great power comes great responsibility. That mantra now extends to both JetBlue and Matthew Lush. JetBlue overreacted. That’s another opinion. But as a private business they had the right to overreact — and so did Matthew. JetBlue learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of pissing off the wrong person from a publicity standpoint — a lesson that most corporations inevitably learn in their own way. Matthew, hopefully, learned a lesson from the media about what happens when you use your powers for petty revenge — he got a public blast from the media calling him a “brat.”

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Neither party was wrong, but nobody won here. JetBlue looks like assholes, Matthew Lush has one less airline option at his disposal and some shade from the media at large. Hopefully, in the future, we all just take a step back and decide how much hell life is really worth?

 

Share this article because it attempts to be an evenhanded look at the delicate social media balance.

 

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