New York artist Shane Townley has experienced every plane passenger‘s worst nightmare: a screaming child on a long-haul flight.
Townley was travelling from Germany to New York on a Lufthansa flight on August 26 last year when a toddler decided to ruin his life. So in return, the artist decided to film the toddler and shame him, and his mother, on a YouTube video that resurfaced this week.
You can clearly see and hear in the footage that the child is unsettled and unhappy. That’s a polite way of saying what Townley called exhibiting “demonic” behaviour. He narrates the eight-hour-long video with the following commentary:
“Demonic screams take over the plane.”
“‘Mom to the flight attendant: ‘Let’s get the wi-fi going so we can get the iPad going.’ We still haven’t taken off yet.”
“Free to create chaos the kid runs through the plane screaming.”
“Some believe this is proof that digital devices cause this.”
He then focuses the camera at the ceiling and continues recording sound that lasts for the entire eight hours of the flight.
This must have been excruciating for all of the passengers to endure – except of course the mother, who would have been relaxed and enjoying her son destroy everyone’s peace of mind.
The young boy suffers from a disability, which has not been specified, that affects his behaviour, a source told DailyMail.com. But disability or not, one thing that every parent knows is that there must have been an issue if a small child was able to maintain that level of energy output for the entire flight.
And that’s the first thing that Townley doesn’t understand.
If anything is clear from the footage, it’s that Townley totally lacks empathy. Instead of a proactive approach – speaking to the mother, who was evidently travelling alone, to understand what was wrong – he chooses to spend his time fiddling with his smartphone with vindictive intentions.
Townley has said he “tried to intervene”, which isn’t at all the same as saying that he offered support and assistance.
Instead, he downloaded the footage to YouTube and titled the video "Demonic child screams and runs through eight hour flight."
I can guarantee you, the mother of the toddler would be outraged and hurt as any parent would be, that her son was filmed like this. What an appalling invasion of their privacy.
Even if the issue was a dire lack of parenting - which is doubtful, as surely the flight crew would have asked her to take responsibility - wouldn't that be the parent's fault, not the child's? Why not call the video, "Lazy parent relaxes on flight while neglected child distracts me from playing Candy Crush?"
Because if Townley had stopped to think about it, he would have known there was an issue that was beyond the control of the mother, and the child.
A Lufthansa spokesman said, "Our crew worked around the clock to de-escalate the situation, tend to all passengers, and assist the mother." The crew were aware there was an issue with the family that needed support.
LISTEN: Could a crying baby ever get you kicked out of your home? We discuss, on our podcast for imperfect parents.
A dear friend of mine has a child with extra needs and she said in response to the footage;
"Parents of kids with extra needs strike a balance with every decision they make; what do I need to do versus how will my child cope with that, is just one of things they must consider every day."
Something I've witnessed sharing many meals with her and her child is that the iPad is ever-present. Loaded on to that iPad is hours of The Wiggles - and dozens of videos and apps that help distract and soothe a child with extra needs. They are specifically designed for that purpose. So Townley's comment on the consequences on the boy of iPad usage simply demonstrates an extra layer of his ignorance.
As my friend said, "The iPad gives you flexibility you wouldn't get otherwise."
Of course, none of that is Townley's problem. And that's fine, it doesn't have to be.
But surely people with disabilities and extra needs, and their families, are isolated enough as it is. Exhibiting this family on YouTube was purely about humiliating them, and that's something people like Townley will never really understand.