Truth trumps viral: JetBlue Steven vs. White Board Jenny.
|By David Griner on Aug. 11, 2010||Tweet|
As most everyone with an iota of skepticism expected, "White Board Jenny" was revealed this morning as a hoax by humor site TheChive.com. In case you missed it, "Jenny" had purportedly quit her job by e-mailing a series of photos that exposed her sleazy boss as a FarmVille-obsessed hypocrite.
While tremendously entertaining, the photos were simply too well done for most to believe that they were the work of one frustrated aspiring broker. And indeed, TheChive posted another photo series today explaining that Jenny is in fact an actress named Elyse Porterfield.
Some people might be disappointed by the big reveal, but most of us are used to these kinds of "too good to be true" Internet moments being, you know, too good to be true.
But what's truly fascinating about this viral hoax is the fact that it can barely hold a candle to that of another workplace renegade: JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater. Because he meets the ultimate criterion for being a modern folk hero: He's real.
Fed up with verbal abuse from an irate passenger who hit him in the head with a luggage bin and called him a "motherf__ker," Slater famously used the flight's PA system to thank the good passengers and curse out the bad one, shortly before he grabbed a beer from the galley and made one of history's most dramatic exits via the plane's emergency slide. He then went home and was arrested while reportedly having "sexual relations." In those brief few hours, a folk hero had been born.
While I'm not one to fully romanticize Slater's actions, there's still no denying that he is an icon whose actions resonate with hard-working people around the world. He's a seemingly normal guy, pushed to his limits by the inconsiderate dregs of modern society, and he decided it was time to take a stand. Or at least a slide.
Had she even been real, White Board Jenny couldn't have come close to Slater's wide appeal. She was young and attractive, tired of having her workplace Internet use monitored and being seen by her supervisor as "a hot piece of ass." Understandable, sure, but not exactly a scenario that the whole working world can identify with.
A year from now, will we remember both these stories? Hard to say, but recent history has shown that, once outed, fake moments of greatness tend to lose a vast majority of their cultural cachet.
In the end, the timing of the Jenny hoax helped prove the hierarchy of Internet fame: A fictional folk hero can become a viral sensation, but these days, you have to be real to become a legend.