A few weeks ago, I read the new reports based on tweets made during the diversion of a flight, on which Keanu Reeves was travelling.  And it left me a little disturbed about our social media focused society.

The plane had a minor mechanical issue and had to divert to Victorville, CA, instead of continuing to its intended destination.  It was uneventful, and Keanu Reeves was photographed in a number of selfies and praised by everyone for the way he acted in response to the incident with his interaction and kindness.  That’s admirable.  But what was very disturbing was the reference by numerous people on the plane to Keanu Reeves as a “hero” on their  tweets.


Isn’t that the term we use for the police and fire personnel who risk the lives for life and justice?  Isn’t that the term we use for valor in military action that fights evil and saves lives? And more importantly, is that the only word that comes to people’s minds when they wish to praise someone publicly?  Seemingly, this is the way things are sadly headed… especially in social media.

To be clear, Keanu Reeves actions were indeed praiseworthy, but poorly mislabeled.  He did what would make a father or mother proud of their son.  He was the model of a gentleman.  If you’ve never seen the movie, I recommend you watch Blast From the Past (1998, Brendon Fraser).  Dave Foley’s character reads the definition of a gentleman he looks up in the dictionary: a man who goes out of his way to make sure that the people he is with feel comfortable around him.  Other than using the word woman, the definition is no different for a gentlewoman.  You won’t find the definition written like that in Google: it’s answer is in the context of a title, and is far too shallow.

This is a very ugly effect of the super-hero culture we live in today.  Since social media requires people to speak up to be heard (and usually loudly or using shock tactics), the superhero character appeals to the masses because 1) superheros do great and inspiring things, and 2) superheros get mass recognition.  But to label what Keanu Reeves did as “superhero” shows how this escalation has gotten out of control.  The Romans documented hundreds of years ago something called the seven traps in logical arguments.  They basically list seven traps which begin with “argument based on  …” with names like “unverifiable authority”, “emotion”, etc.  Labeling an act of kindness as if it is an act of heroism is “argument based on emotion”, and in this case… destructive hyperbole.

It is important to realize that escalating anything beyond what it requires, raises (or lowers) a standard which should not have changed.  If you feel the need to post something on Facebook, leave out the temptation to give it an emotional sales pitch.  Let the event or article speak for itself.

It is, in fact, a form of crying wolf… which can done with both complaining and praise.