TERRY PRONE: Forgetting about your digital life now and then could save real lives

The priority for anybody with their wits about them is to get the hell out of that plane as quickly as possible

Taking the time to film at the site of a plane which has crash is putting your life and others in danger, writes Terry Prone

he great thing about social media is that it delivers unmediated eejits quickly and promiscuously.

That’s in addition to returning emigrants being screamed at in a loving way by their surprised mothers, cute kittens, and infinitely sad-eyed puppies rescued before they could be exported to Britain.

Our phones and tablets bring us the news as it happens, and the eejits it happens to.

Like one of the survivors of the Emirates crash-landing and explosion.

If you have instant news feeds on your phone or tablet, you know the guy I’m talking about.

You saw him, within minutes of the crash.

Maybe 30 years of age.

Face shiny from the heat and stress.

Talking about escaping from the plane down the slide.

The interviewer asked the question twice.

“You came down the slide?”

At first, watching it, you might think the passenger’s limited English had confused the interviewer.

But then you might notice something a bit more relevant.

The guy was wearing a back pack, secured by shoulder straps.

This passenger on a plane that landed on its fuselage on the runway of Dubai airport came down the escape slide wearing a back pack.

No other way to slice it. He could not have gone into where the luggage conveyor belts convey luggage to its owners (or perhaps convey some luggage to some its owners) and retrieved the back pack there, for the good reason that nobody unloaded luggage from this plane.

The fireball that exploded out of it, taking out much of the roof, directly after the airline evacuated its passengers safely, lowered the priority on getting the bags out quickly.

Remove all alternatives and the inescapable truth of the situation is that head-the-ball came down that slide wearing his luggage, thereby endangering himself, the other passengers, and the integrity of the slide itself.

He was so oblivious to the safety breach he committed that he presented himself a few minutes later, still proudly strapped to his precious belongings, for interviews going out on social media.

He could be an exceptionally half-witted traveller. He isn’t. Social media delivered evidence to the contrary, courtesy of someone on the plane who filmed the evacuation.

That someone being Eejit Number Two.

When you’re on a plane that drags its ass halfway down a runway at enormous speed, sparks flying everywhere, it stands to reason that all is not well with that aircraft.

It further stands to reason that things are not going to get any better and, if you’re a betting person, the odds are on things getting considerably worse. (As they did.)

The priority, therefore, for anybody with their wits about them is to get the hell out of that plane as quickly as humanly possible.

Forgetting about your digital life now and then could save real lives

Eschewing that option, however, Eejit Number Two decided this was the time to get into the film-making business, rather than doing what they should have done: Kick off their shoes, jump onto the slide, and run like hell as far as possible from the possibility — soon to be a fact — that fire will follow.

Lethal fire in this case, since we know that an unfortunate fire fighter died trying to extinguish it.

Eejit Number Two recorded, for posterity, the brain-dead behaviour of what appears to have been the majority of the passengers.

Those passengers devoted themselves, not to escaping the downed aircraft, but to unclipping the overhead bins to retrieve their wheeled carry-ons, and to searching beneath the seat in front of them for other possessions.

The filmed segment suggests that it took the air crew some time to get on top of this craziness and yell instructions to abandon luggage and get on the slide.

“Leave bags. Jump on slide,” they bellowed, and eventually the passengers did so. With the exception of Eejit Number One.

It’s a miracle none of the travellers died, and it’s pretty certain that, in their excited accounts of the accident, they will not include the story of how they diminished their own survival chances and the chances of those around them — including children — by a loopy loyalty to their possessions.

Eejit Number Two possibly even made money from the global distribution of the footage they shot on the plane.

Of course, the safety information was delivered.

Every major airline goes through these instructions before the flight takes off, including solemn instructions on how to fasten the seatbelt, which has to be the most redundant tip ever.

Forgetting about your digital life now and then could save real lives

Unless the payload is made up exclusively of Bedouins unused to any form of transport other than a camel, the overwhelming likelihood is that the passengers know how to fasten a seatbelt.

Not only is that piece of advice irrelevant, but it serves as an attention-disqualifier: Oh, yeah, our subconscious mutters, all the usual stuff to which we don’t have to pay attention to.

Glance around you the next time you’re on a flight, and you will confirm that 99% of travellers don’t pay a blind bit of attention to the instructions which, in the event of a mishap, might save their lives.

When, for example, the flight attendant suggests that those on board check where their nearest exit is, with the inevitable added hint that it might be behind where they are seated, not a head turns to ascertain the location.

Most people are too concentrated on eking out the last second of mobile phone use before they’re told to switch off the device.

The instructions are also stupid in sequence and delivery.

The attendant wraps himself or herself in the safety jacket to be found under the seat, demonstrating how to secure it.

Do they ever stop dead and say “folks, this matters, put down your phone and pay attention”?


They plough through the demo with the kind of visible boredom that would get them fired if they were TV cooks explaining how to chop an onion.

They blow listlessly into a tube to illustrate how the thing can be topped up, ignoring the obvious question: “Why would it need topping up? Do these things leak? When was the last time the one under my seat was checked for leaks?”

Worst of all, they tonelessly announce that the jacket shouldn’t be inflated within the cabin, leaving it to the deductive power of the non-listeners to work out that if you inflate a life jacket in the cabin, you may be too fat to get out of the same cabin.

When people lose their lives as the result of an air crash, the explanations almost always boil down immediately to one of two possibilities — pilot error or mechanical failure.

The Emirates flight offers a relevant third possibility: Uninformed idiocy on the part of the passengers.


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