13 years ago horrible acts of violence and terrorism were committed against the United States. Instead of observing Patriot Day quietly and respectfully, one yoga studio decided to make enemies of pretty much everybody on social media.
Bikram Yoga Arlington offered a discount on yoga classes in commemoration of the 9/11 attacks 13 years ago.
It all started with their insensitive tweet “9+11=20%OFF!”
The yoga studio took it one step further on their website and in an email promotion where they said, “Freedom Isn’t Free — And we intend to honor those patriots who have died for our country and morn the loss of freedom of speech and other rights that died that day.”
The promotion went on to offer discounts like a year of unlimited yoga classes for $1,000 rather than the normal price of $1,250, and a week of yoga classes for $40 rather than $50.
People quickly began voicing their disgust over the promotion with statements like:
“Thanks for revealing your true self. Now I know to never use your studio,” Jenny L. Peterson.
Social Media expert Peter Shankman tweeted:
Are you fucking kidding me? You’re now my new “don’t be them” example. “@bikramarlington: 9+11 = 20% OFF! PATRIOT DAY SALE on Bikram Yoga!
— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) September 11, 2014
What is perhaps most mind blowing is that Bikram Yoga Arlington is surprised by how people have reacted.
“I didn’t realize people would be so ‘roar,’ you know?” Bikram Yoga Arlington studio owner Zahra Vaezi told the Washington Post.
“It’s like that man who punched his wife,” she said, referring to ex-Ravens player Rice. “I mean, that’s upsetting. But I think it kind of gets blown out of proportion.”
Bikram Yoga Arlington has since apologized both on Facebook and Twitter, but it probably won’t be enough.
The intention of the sale was to honor the memory of the many members of our family, community and our nation that we lost.
— Bikram Arlington (@bikramarlington) September 11, 2014
“It’s offensive, yes, and I’m sorry. I’m not trying to incite emotion. I just love yoga,” Vaezi told the Post. “It is still Patriot Day. And I feel like if I do take [the discount] off, I would be saying there’s something wrong with it being Patriot Day.”
The yoga studio has only been open for 8 months, and I doubt it will make it a full year without major damage control.
Social media is instant, and personal. People build connections to each other and to brands through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It is important to remember what you say cannot be unsaid. As a user commented on Bikram Arlington’s post, “screen grabs live forever.” The internet has a very long memory.
How would you like to see Bikram Yoga Arlington handle this? Do you think it was just an honest mistake? Would you ever go to a yoga studio who tweeted something like this? Let me know in the comments.