After a journey that took it from anonymity to viral glory to mainstream recognition to widespread backlash in the span of a week, the saga of #PlaneBae has now seemingly reached its proper conclusion, ending, as so many internet episodes do, with an apology from its instigator. Rosey Blair, the woman who documented an airplane meet cute last week, posted the following statement on Twitter on Tuesday:
When Blair’s Twitter thread about a man and a woman sitting in front of her hitting it off on a flight from New York to Dallas first started circulating in early July, the internet went nuts for it. Blair was praised for capturing a flirtation in real time and creating a romantic comedy for the iPhone-addicted millennial set. It was only a few days later that a conversation about privacy started to bubble up to the surface, as onlookers expressed concern about the level of detail with which Blair recorded the story, as well as her apparent glee in all the attention she herself was getting for co-opting the lives of two strangers who had not consented to participating in the whole thing. The way the story affected its two subjects—a former pro soccer player named Euan Holden and a woman named Helen who declined to reveal her full name publicly—also illustrates a particularly dark truth about how the internet treats men vs. women. While Holden was happy to reveal himself and enjoy his 15 extra minutes of fame, Helen has faced harassment and reportedly was forced to shut down at least two of her social media accounts in order to avoid further abuse.
So now Blair has offered an apology. She mostly directs it toward Helen, explaining that when she posted the series of tweets, she didn’t anticipate all the negative attention that could result from them and that she feels ashamed for taking away Helen’s ownership of her own story. Blair says she understands that she may be too late but promises she’s done with the #PlaneBae story. In focusing on Helen, Blair may be overemphasizing Helen’s reaction to what happened rather than the intrinsic wrongness of her actions. Still, the apology reads as genuine and full-throated. But the internet is forever, mistakes are hard to undo—especially when they lead to real-world consequences like Helen’s harassment—and it’s easier to spark outrage than forgiveness. It’s not a given that an internet full of critics who were so quick to condemn Blair will be equally quick to accept her olive branch and move on.