Just as the nose wheel was about to lift off the runway, the pilot aborted the take-off. We were thrown forwards in our seats as he hit the brakes hard and brought the plane to a smoking stop before the end of the runway. For the passengers it was quite a dramatic incident.
As we were taxiing back to the terminal the pilot announced a possible bird strike.
It was some days later, when I was editing the footage we’d taken, I realised Linda had caught the bird entering the starboard engine.
I uploaded the video (with some slow motion replays) to YouTube, and it went viral. It has now been viewed 5.8 million times, and it’s still going strong.
In that time we’ve had almost 4,000 comments. I like to view all of them, and I reply to all questions and most comments. I also like replying with a question when appropriate. Often that results in interesting back-and-forth conversations. One of the nicest comments I’ve ever received was after this type of interaction. The viewer said it was like exchanging letters with a pen-friend back when that was popular.
So what are some of the popular questions?
Many viewers ask, “What bird was that?”
Many American viewers state, “That was a bald eagle!”
Other popular comments are, “Did the bird survive?” and, “RIP poor bird.” or words to that effect.
I also get, “That was faked!” or, “Why did you drop the camera?”
And occasionally I get, “Why don’t they put netting over the front of the engine so birds can’t damage it?”
However this morning I found quite a different comment:
“Am sorry for the bird .. rip
All human inventions are disastrous”
And it got me thinking. Perhaps he was just exaggerating. Nevertheless I was worried about why he said it. It’s odd for someone to describe all of anything as bad. We can disagree about whether individual inventions are good or bad, but no one would claim every single human invention is disastrous.
For this reason, I took quite some time thinking about an answer.
I could think of a few good inventions quite easily, such as penicillin and the cure for polio. But I didn’t find it so easy to remember bad ones. So I talked to my friend Google, and could then flesh out lists of good and bad inventions.
Then I had to find a way of replying that wouldn’t make him defensive, and that would not seem critical or insulting. Offensive replies are too easy, and you can see that kind of conversation all over the internet.
“What sort of dumb comment is that?” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about, you moron.”
They don’t help anyone, and just divide people further. I like to be polite and questioning rather that insulting and dogmatic. I’m also aware many viewers are teenagers who are perhaps going through difficult times. So I try to be encouraging rather than my usual “glass half empty” persona.
I also make it a practice to never comment on or criticise grammar, punctuation or spelling. I’m just pleased to get comments, whether they’re from a native English speaker or from someone with English as a second, third or fourth language. If the comment is in a foreign language, I try Google Translate, and then reverse translate my reply into their language. I don’t know how accurate it is, but I try.
So, getting back to the comment “All human inventions are disastrous”, after doing some word-smithing I came up with this:
Thanks for watching and commenting. Yes, a sad and untimely ending for an innocent bird. But are all human inventions disastrous? Certainly many were, such as agent orange, hydrogen-filled airships and leaded gasoline. But how about others like language, the wheel, farming, the Hindu Arabic numeral system, the plough, the Gregorian Calendar, domestication of horses, paper, the printing press, the compass, soap and hygiene, electricity, anaesthesia, penicillin, surgery, dentistry, the cure for polio, weather forecasting and fast food? OK, I threw that last one in to see if you were concentrating.
(I considered adding gaffer tape and WD40, but decided that would be a little too flippant.)
Finally, I closed my reply with a smiley emoticon.
I hope I get an answer, but none so far.