Let’s suppose you were still on a plane that had been hijacked by a guy wearing what appeared to be an explosive suicide belt and been diverted to a different airport, where authorities were negotiating with the hijacker and passengers on the plane were gradually being released.
Would you (a) sit quietly in your seat, hoping that authorities resolved the situation, (b) send your loved ones a message so they knew you were OK, and hoping for the best, or (c) get your picture taken with the hijacker and then text it to your roommate, telling him that you don’t “fuck about” and to turn on the news?
Ben Innes, a 26-year-old guy from Leeds, England, chose (c). His picture with Seif Eldin Mustafa, who hijacked an EgyptAir flight and diverted it to Cyprus, shows Innes sporting one of the worst fake smiles in the history of the world as he stands next to a sad-faced old guy wearing a belt of supposed explosives (which turned out to be fake). Innes later explained that he wanted to let the hijacker know that he was no threat and to help the hijacker realize that everyone still on the plane was a human being. Perhaps . . . but it sounds like an after-the-fact rationalization to me. His text to his roommate right after the photo was taken sure makes it seems that Innes was more interested in getting his face and name on the news — and his ploy worked.
So Innes has had his five minutes of fame, and everybody got off the plane safely. But let’s suppose the suicide belt wasn’t a fake, and Innes’ decision to approach the hijacker for a picture made the hijacker feel threatened and decide to change course from the “negotiate, then release” approach he had been taking. What Innes did was an unbelievably reckless and stupid stunt that could easily have endangered his fellow passengers when the authorities had the situation under control.
Apparently some people are so self-absorbed and so hungry for attention these days, from their own circle of friends and from others, that they will intervene in a hijacking to take their own picture. It’s mind-boggling. The modern world just grows weirder by the day.