A 45-second video of an angry man lashing out at women and other customers at a Long Island bagel shop because of his lack of success on dating sites has gone viral, and in the process, exposed a lot of what’s ugly about contemporary American society.
For those who missed it, on Wednesday morning, a man visited a location of Bagel Boss in Bay Shore, New York, to get breakfast. According to the manager, a female worker who was serving him smiled, and it set him off on a tirade about women and how nobody wanted to date him because he was too short.
The video cuts in when a female could be heard asking him why he thinks it’s OK to say degrading things about women. He shouts back, “Why is it OK for women to say you’re five feet — on dating sites — you should be dead?” Spiking his newspaper to the ground, he screams, “That’s OK?”
When a woman points out that nobody in the bagel shop said anything of the sort, he screams, “Women in general have said it on dating sites” adding that, “Everywhere I go I get the same f—ing smirk, with the biting lip.”
He then starts shouting at male customers trying to calm him down, challenging one to take things outside and then telling another to shut up. “Go ahead and attack me,” he says, at which point the larger man takes him up on the invitation, grabs him by the neck, and tackles him to the ground.
“Oh my God — I just wanted bagels,” a female voice is heard saying before the video cuts out.
The clip was posted on Wednesday morning by a Twitter user without that many followers, and yet within 24 hours, it had been viewed 20 million times.
It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the clip itself before getting into the reaction it generated.
The video most obviously shows a man taking out his frustrations with online dating on women as a whole. In a second video, he can be heard shouting, “You women need to stop being so f–ked up!” This points to a broader problem in society of men acting as if they’re entitled to women, a tendency that manifests itself in all sorts of bad ways.
Hollywood perpetuates this idea with the trope of the sensitive and “nice guy” protagonist. Oftentimes, these male characters don’t actually do anything nice: They’re often self-absorbed and objectify women. But because they have trouble getting women to sleep with them and are portrayed as lonely, we’re supposed to sympathize with them — and root for them to land a woman who is much smarter, nicer, and more attractive than they are, which they inevitably do.
When this entitlement mentality is put in the hands of men with money and power, we get situations like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and many other incidents exposed by the #MeToo movement that are deeply problematic even when they don’t rise to the level of accusations of rape and sex trafficking of minors.
It has also manifested itself in more violent ways, as when a man declaring a rebellion of “incels” (short for involuntary celibates), ran over pedestrians with a van in Toronto, killing 10.
Now, obviously the bagel shop meltdown is nowhere near the same, but the entitlement mentality some men feel about women needs to change for us to evolve into a healthy society.
But the viral video should also lead us to examine what the reaction says about us.
It’s becoming unsettling to live in a society in which everybody has a camera in their pockets. There are some instances, such as exposing excesses of law enforcement, when it could be argued that this has served a useful purpose. But like many aspects of technology, there is good and bad. And there’s something unfair about capturing people at their worst moments, often without full context, and ensuring that they will be viewed and judged by millions of strangers. Now, I can’t say that I’ve ever vented about my personal life to strangers in a bagel store, but if anybody ever captured some of the interactions I’ve had at rental car counters or on the phone with cable companies, it’s possible I would be known a lot better for those viral moments than anything I’d ever write.
The voyeurism in this case devolved into people laughing and enjoying what was actually a really disturbing moment involving a sad person who is clearly in need of a mental health intervention. Model Christine Teigen tweeted to her 11.3 million followers, “do bagel boss-esque situations/fights happen often??? I need to witness one of these in person. this could be the thing that drags me out of my house. where do I need to post up with my camping chair??” It can easily be argued that the man deserved to be tackled to the ground, but to actually celebrate and enjoy the violence as if it were a sport, even posting freeze frames of the throat grab (as some other users did), is gross.
Predictably, much of the reaction on Twitter and in the media focused on the guy being short, mocking him with memes and GIFs from the Will Farrell movie Elf. This is nothing more than adults engaging in schoolyard bullying on a national scale based on somebody’s appearance, something that he has no control over and that has obviously caused him a lot of pain.
To be clear, I’m not trying to present myself as above it all. I emailed the video and texted about it and laughed at the video itself as well as some of the jokes it triggered. And by writing on it now, I am giving it yet more attention. Sometimes, the internet has a way of bringing out the worst in us.