Gen Z are bringing dine-and-dashers to justice by publicly shaming them on social media

By Lightning-Bolt Baker

Updated Sep 8, 2023 at 01:18 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

It seems as of late that public behaviour has deteriorated to such an extent that people simply shouldn’t be allowed out of their houses anymore. COVID-19 flashbacks much? The latest proof that adults nowadays seem unable to follow the basic etiquettes of society is the increasing number of people dine and dashing. Let me explain.

Leaving a restaurant without paying your bill isn’t anything new, it’s a crime as old as dining out. But it’s having a bit of a renaissance right now as every week, there’s a news story about it. And it isn’t just the recent frequency of dine and dashing that’s contributing to its time in the spotlight. Usually, in the past someone who had the nerve to run out on their bill would scuttle off unrepentant into oblivion. However, the rising adoption of social media as a business tool and how people, especially gen Z, interact with these businesses online is foiling the crimes of bill dodgers.

@

♬ -
@sydneyynicole__

♬ original sound - sydney.donaldson97

So, are people running out on their bills more than before or is it just media attention making us more aware of it? The crime survey for England and Wales classifies “making off without payment” offences in the “all other theft” category which was up by 19 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year. The dine-and-dash cases from just the last six months which received media attention were so numerous that I’ll exceed my word limit simply stating them all.

These stories follow a singular pattern. Some dingbat makes a runner from a restaurant and the place in question posts the unflattering CCTV footage of them committing the crime on Facebook, Twitter (now X for some reason), YouTube, or TikTok. The post implores people to help identify the scoundrel, meanwhile, some bored local news website takes the now-viral post and turns it into a story.

One of two things happen now: being put on blast so publicly engenders sudden guilt in our dine-and-dasher and they return to pay the bill, or the police get involved to quietly amalgamate the case into next year’s crime statistics rather than solve it.

On 11 August 2023, two people dashed out on a $150 bill from Oyster Bar in Sacramento, California. The manager, Kevin Subac, wrote in a Facebook post that he didn’t want to embarrass them in any way and just wanted them to come back and pay their bill. “It’s all about your ethics and morals,” he wrote. Considering the bill remains unpaid, it appears their ethics and morals weren’t sturdy enough.

Shaming the criminal through viral content, on the other hand, has proven results. Whether it’s two women in Swinton skipping out on a £56 bill, a family in Cornwall who ditched a £215 bill, a group in Guisborough who ran out on a £70 bill (and threatened to burn the place down if the owner shared their images on Facebook), or the peculiar case of Italian tourists having their ditched €80 bill in Berat, Albania paid by the Italian embassy; in all these cases their bill was eventually paid (overpaid in some instances) because the original social media posts went viral.

@dawn_starrr

#karen #houston #katytx #texas #restaurant #restaurantlife #server #serverlife #serverlifebelike #goodfood #goodeats #placestoeat #thingstodo #karensgoingwild #karensoftiktok #karensgonewild #ohno #dineanddashattempt #dineandditch #dinner #brunch #lunch #breakfast #dineanddashers #dingdongditchprank #dingdong #foodie #food #foodoftiktok #viral #trending #fup #foryoupage #drinks #lit #mustsee #funny #prank

♬ Yummy - Justin Bieber

Considering that users aged 18-29 make up the largest group across Facebook, X, and TikTok according to compiled Statista figures, it’s mainly gen Zers who electronically transmit this viral content. Some people are lucky enough to look younger than they are, but a thorough glance at the faces and bodies of the culprits in dine-and-dash stories mostly conjures the image of people who couldn’t possibly be younger than their mid-30s.

Not to say such behaviour is beyond the characters of gen Z—see the video just below—but the majority of offences come from millennials, suggesting a shift in morals and ethics. As digital natives with a cornucopia of information at their fingertips, gen Z are, by virtue of interconnectivity, generally more compassionate and empathetic.

@oldschoolpizzaofficial

Dine & Dash Exposed❗️#melbournefood #melbournefoodie #melbourneeats #fypmelbourne #fyp #oldschoolpizza #melbournerestaurant #coburg #dineandditch #eshay

♬ Oh No - Kreepa

Their empathy extends beyond the businesses losing money to the staff who served the dine-and-dashers and ended up in hot water. Especially because it’s people their age who are working these jobs. The Office for National Statistics’ 2021 figures have people aged 16-24 making up almost half of the total hospitality workforce, occupying 50 per cent of waiting and 48 per cent of bartender and barista roles.

If a heathen runs out on their bill, it’s highly probable the manager will take the money out of the server’s paycheck. Already strapped working under-paid and low-skilled jobs, gen Z don’t wish their fellows’ lives made any harder, so they have a greater impetus to serve justice. Furthermore, their strong sense of justice comes through better nowhere than in the comment sections of these social media posts.

@aceof_spadess

ive seen this happen so many times #fyp #lmfao #xyzbca #meme #share #foru

♬ original sound - aceof_spadess

One user commented, “Just going out for a smoke is the oldest trick in the book. Disgraceful.” Another had to say, “That’s sad. If you’re broke don’t come out and eat, simple.” A surprise came with, “I remember this guy! He tarmacked my drive.” One quipped about Italy picking up the tourist’s tab in Albania: “I can’t wait to pay taxes so they can be used to settle the bill of a gang of assholes abroad on holiday.”

“Eating like kings, behaving like peasants” was another comment. One guy went hard with, “I can smell the chip-pan grease, ciggies, desperation, and men’s public bog through my phone. Definitely a result of 10 generations of inbreeding.” And who could forget gems like, “pure slink that” and “Absolute dings, nowt wrong with your top-notch scran, give her mug to the police mate.”

The comment sections of these posts read like the culprit is made to walk naked and blindfolded through the town while citizens fling bits of dirt at them. The idea of such public humiliation is enough to make the guilty return and pay their dues.

When some crime is committed, the shapeless multitudes of the internet tend to coalesce into a unified organism that speaks and acts out against the wrongdoing. Gen Z users make up a vital organ of this social media activism, acting as its moral spearhead.

In sharing and commenting on the social media pleas of hard-done-by restaurants, the online populous (comprised largely of the youth) come together and pass swift judgment until the bill is settled or an example is made of the criminal. As the Casey Review into the police conduct finds them too busy being institutionally corrupt to give a damn about dine-and-dashers, sometimes taking the law reasonably into your own hands does the trick.

Keep On Reading

By Alma Fabiani

Everything you need to know about TikTok trends and how they shape internet culture

By Charlie Sawyer

Ariana Grande slams body shamers on TikTok. Here are 3 other celebrities who’ve faced criticism

By Alma Fabiani

‘Hehe bye’: Employers reveal some of the funniest gen Z email sign-offs on TikTok

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Spanish reporter groped on live TV confronts man and has him arrested

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Man who attacked Las Vegas judge in viral video charged with her attempted murder

By Abby Amoakuh

Who is Selena Gomez dating? From Justin Bieber to Benny Blanco, here’s her full dating history

By Abby Amoakuh

Inside Just Stop Oil training sessions where new recruits are taught how to deal with angry drivers 

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

As more US Open players complain about weed smell on the court, the source remains a mystery

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Keke Palmer’s ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson files restraining order after disturbing video emerges

By Abby Amoakuh

Boris Johnson’s new gig at GB News is a match made in problematic heaven

By Charlie Sawyer

Russell Brand sexual assault allegations: Comedians Daniel Sloss and Katherine Ryan back up victims

By Abby Amoakuh

Abbott Elementary star Janelle James comes under fire for jokes about son’s genitals

By Abby Amoakuh

Did Taylor Swift disrespect Céline Dion at the 2024 Grammys? We investigated the incident

By Alma Fabiani

John Cena reacts to Drake’s nudes on Instagram

By Alma Fabiani

The Summer I Turned Pretty season 2 finale: Is a bonus episode or part 2 on the way?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Is Brazilian weight loss influencer Mila De Jesus dead? Fans concerned about cause of death

By Abby Amoakuh

Austerity-era PM David Cameron appointed Foreign Secretary. Here’s what he’s been up to since his resignation

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Schools in China are using AI headbands to monitor their students’ focus

By Charlie Sawyer

Watch Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly surprise Snoop Dogg with a Step Brothers rap reunion

By Charlie Sawyer

Paris Hilton spills the tea on being a socialite and mum of 2 on new Call Her Daddy podcast