We live in strange, wonderful times.
I love Magic the Gathering. I have played it since they released the Revised Edition, way back in 1994. When I was in college, I worked at a card shop and spent the majority of my life during that time sorting through cards, building decks, and geeking out over the Black Lotuses and Moxes (rare cards from earlier sets) that people would buy from us for well over $100 a piece. If my parents ever dreamed of spawning an uber-elite superhero progeny, this period of my life utterly crushed their fantasy. That’s why the recent story to take over the internet about a nasty little article that made fun of a girl’s date with a Magic tournament champion caught my eye.
Alyssa Bereznak is an intern and writer for Gizmodo – not a very prolific writer from what I can tell as a search of her name only turns up a couple dull stories about hackers and sleeping on stranger’s couches. Recently, Alyssa signed up on the dating website, OkCupid, on a whim, hoping to score a boyfriend. The first guy that contacted her who didn’t seem like a jerk was named Jon Finkel, so she went ahead and agreed to meet up with him. Alyssa learned on their first date that Jon played Magic the Gathering. Actually, he did a lot more then just play it, he was the World Champion! Alyssa immediately hated Jon for this, which many of us might choose to malign her for, but in all honesty is perfectly fine. We can’t be held accountable for our likes and dislikes in the world. I never liked dating girls that smoked, and if I went on a first date with someone that I then discovered was a smoker, I might very well not see them again if their sparkling personality, breasts, and sense of humor weren’t enough to get me to look past it. Where Alyssa went wrong, and where she charged into the limelight to become one of the most reviled internet celebrities of recent note, was when she went online and wrote an article about how much of a dork Jon was.
On August 29th, Alyssa wrote an article giving the details of the two dates she had been on with Jon. The article was petty, and focused entirely upon how disgusted she was with Jon for his hobby playing a card game. She exclaimed that people needed to Google the names of their dates before going, otherwise they might end up being subjected to the torture that Jon put her through – by saying that he played Magic. Holy crap, lady, I’ve seen a lot of douches in my life, but your lemony fresh vaginal wash has just exploded all over the internet, and there’s no washing off this stink.
Here’s where the story gets fun. Alyssa’s article hit the net, and the massive conglomeration of nerdom rose up. This article seemed to galvanize the thousands of people across the world that have been persecuted by the popular kids throughout their lives. Much like Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards in Revenge of the Nerds, the geeks were finally standing up for themselves. Armed with calloused finger tips and wry wit birthed from hundreds of hours spent lonely and alone at a computer, the Cult of Geek stood up, loud and proud, and told Alyssa exactly what they thought of her petty little article.
Websites across the net began posting content mocking Alyssa, quickly turning her face into an internet meme that spread like herpes in a co-ed penal colony. Within days, the story became viral, getting to the point where CBS News did an interview with Jon Finkel to ask him how he felt about the incident and if he had any advice on handling being exposed on the net the way he had. Finkel said this, “My main advice would be to have an army of game-loving fans who remember you from your glory days 10 years ago. Probably also, and this is good generic life advice, “try not to be a [jerk].” If she’d posted about me being a real [jerk], things might have developed differently. But I suppose this sort of stuff could happen to anyone with a large enough Google footprint, even if they are a “Grade D Celebrity.” A lesser man might have taken the opportunity afforded by this national stage to talk a little shit about Alyssa. After all, her first inclination after dating him was to jump onto one of the top 500 viewed sites in the world and write a nasty article about how much of a dork he was. Yet Jon stayed classy (San Diego), and took the high road as opposed to the shit covered ditch Alyssa got stuck in.
The interesting thing about this story is the way it shows how different our culture is today. When I was in High School, back in the early to mid 90’s, being a geek was not a good thing. It could get claustrophobically lonely, and every interaction with one of the popular kids could easily lead to soul-crushing denigration with just the slightest social faux pas. Today is a new day, and the internet has managed to create world-wide communities that will stand behind you no matter what your personal tastes happen to be (ask Nerves about the Shizer-Porn crew he hangs with these days!) Sure, this doesn’t change how hard it can be to connect with a member of the opposite sex on a first date, but it sure the hell can make you feel a lot better after one of those dates goes wrong.
While Alyssa’s ultimate lesson learned from this was, in her own words, that she would forever Google people’s names before dating them, I think there’s a second lesson she should pick up: It’s fine to be a cunt, but don’t go tell the word about it.