It’s safe to say that Los Angeles Times writer David Lazarus knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote an inflammatory piece about cruise ships.
On top of that, he (or an equally savvy editor) even gave it the headline, “The Cruise Industry Is Sinking. I’m Okay With That.”
Haters Gonna Hate
After all, anti-cruise sentiment has been running high in some sectors. Why not pick up some easy clicks with a little trash-talking?
As you might expect, more than a few folks who read the story quickly picked up on the fact that it was not only a hit-piece, but one which appeared to be as badly researched as it was biased.
Right there in the first graph, the story spoke about Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent financial woes.
The only problem? It came out after — yet completely ignored — the company had actually secured a massive infusion of liquidity.
The column then proceeded to play up stereotypes (by only speaking to elderly cruisers), overused rhetoric (yes, the old “floating petri dish” analogy was trotted out) and false equivalencies involving everyone’s favorite cruise ship boogeyman, norovirus.
It was, in essence, exactly what you’d expect from someone with a bias to present and a hunger for clicks. What you might not expect, however, was the out-and-out baiting which he then used to promote the article on social media.
Fire, Meet Gasoline
In his downright tireless efforts to promote the piece, Lazarus went from delighting in the anger he’d incited to particularly ugly attacks on cruise fans. “The hate mail is starting to spill in from people connected with the cruise/travel industry,” he tweeted at one point. “Touched a nerve?”
Later, after acknowledging that “people who are into cruises are very loyal to, and passionate about, the cruise industry,” the columnist repeatedly tweeted that responses to his work “suggests there are a lot of MAGA types among cruise fans.”
A casual scroll through the responses to his posts showed that the vast majority of people responding to his Twitterbaiting were not rude or even hateful, but instead quite simply calling him out for the one-sided nature of the article.
In fact, the vast majority of responses to his repeated efforts to equate cruisers with the darker side of politics, were people joining his pile-on.
This will, of course, surprise no one who has spent any time in the Twitterverse, which more often than not creates an echo chamber in which one’s opinions are repeated back, if often in a dumbed-down fashion.
The thing is, the author no doubt got exactly what he was looking for: clicks from all sides as supporters and detractors of the industry stated the case. But two weeks from now, when Lazarus has taken his snark elsewhere, cruise fans will still be sitting here, waiting for the ships to return.
Yes, things will be different.
New rules will be put in place, and that’s not a bad thing. But no matter how “okay” people like Lazarus are with the notion of cruises simply going away, they’ll be back… and so will we.