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Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] deathpixie at Signal Boost: Speak Out With Your Geek Out
So, the various nerdish Twitter feeds I follow have been afire this week about an article written by Alyssa Bereznak on the online Gizmondo magazine regarding her experience of the OK Cupid dating site and her meeting with Jon Finkel, world Magic:The Gathering champ of ten years ago. Normally I'd link, but as the author of the article gets paid per click, I'd rather not contribute to her pay packet for what was at best a badly written filler piece and at worst, a mean-spirited attack and link bait. For those who are wondering what she said, however, here's a direct cut and paste quote of the article, under the cut.



This story sounds mean. It's about a girl judging a boy because he's a nerd (like so many of us!) that she met on OkCupid. But that's the point: Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature, and the magic and absurdity of online dating is how immediately and directly it throws that into relief. One person's Magic is another person's fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.

Earlier this month, I came home drunk and made an OKCupid profile. What the hell, I thought. I'm busy, I'm single, and everybody's doing it. Sure, I'd heard some stories, but what was the worst that could happen?

Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey bar. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. "Dem gurl u so foine, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate." Or "your legs do look strong." So when I saw an IM from a guy named Jon that said, "You should go out with me :)" I was relieved. He seemed normal. I gave him my name. "Google away," I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.

We met for a drink later that week. Jon was thin and tall, dressed in a hedge fund uniform with pale skin and pierced ears. We started talking about normal stuff—family, work, college. I told him my brother was a gamer. And then he casually mentioned that he played Magic: The Gathering when he was younger.

"Actually," he paused. "I'm the world champion."

I laughed. Oh that's a funny joke! I thought. This guy is funny! But the earnest look on his face told me he wasn't kidding.

I gulped my beer and thought about Magic, that strategic collectible card game involving wizards and spells and other detailed geekery. A long-forgotten fad, like pogs or something. But before I could dig deeper, we had to go. Jon had bought us tickets for a one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's life story. It was not a particularly romantic evening.

The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums comparing him to Chuck Norris! This guy isn't just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He's Jon motherfucking Finkel, the man who is so widely revered in the game of Magic that he's been immortalized in his own playing card.

Just like you're obligated to mention you're divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn't someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.

At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? "Yes." Strike one. How often? "I'm preparing for a tournament this weekend." Strike two. Who did he hang out with? "I've met all my best friends through Magic." Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn't know shit about the game. Here was a guy who had dedicated a good chunk of his life to mastering Magic, on a date with a girl who can barely play Solitaire. This is what happens, I thought, when you leave things out of your online profile.

I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You'll think you've found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a guy who takes you to a one-man show based on Jeffrey Dahmer's life story.

Maybe I'm an OKCupid asshole for calling it that way. Maybe I'm shallow for not being able to see past Jon's world title. I'll own that. But there's a larger point here: that judging people on shallow stuff is human nature; one person's Magic is another person's fingernail biting, or sports obsession, or verbal tic. No online dating profile in the world is comprehensive enough to highlight every person's peccadillo, or anticipate the inane biases that each of us lugs around. There's no snapshot in the world that can account for our snap judgments.

So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore.



The Australian version of the same article was actually worse, but includes a disclaimer from Gizmodo:



This story sounds mean. It’s about a girl judging a boy because he’s a nerd (like so many of us!) that she met on OkCupid. But that’s the point: Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature, and the magic and absurdity of online dating is how immediately and directly it throws that into relief. One person’s Magic is another person’s fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.

Australian Editor’s Note: We disagree with the US author of this post, more: Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too

Earlier this month, I came home drunk and made an OKCupid profile. What the hell, I thought. I’m busy, I’m single, and everybody’s doing it. Sure, I’d heard horror stories, but what was the worst that could happen?

Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey bar. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. “Dem gurl u so foine, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate.” Or “your legs do look strong.” So when I saw an IM from a guy saying, “You should go out with me :)” I was relieved. He seemed normal. I gave him my name. “Google away,” I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.

We met for a drink later that week. He was thin and tall, dressed in a hedge fund uniform with pale skin and pierced ears. We started talking about normal stuff — family, work, college. I told him my brother was a gamer. And then he casually mentioned that he played Magic: The Gathering when he was younger.

“Actually,” he paused. “I’m the world champion.”

I laughed. Oh that’s a funny joke! I thought. This guy is funny! But the earnest look on his face told me he wasn’t kidding.

I gulped my beer and thought about Magic, that strategic collectible card game involving wizards and spells and other detailed geekery. A long-forgotten fad, like pogs or something. But before I could dig deeper, we had to go. He had bought us tickets for a one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life story. It was not a particularly romantic evening.

The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums! This guy isn’t just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He’s widely revered in the game of Magic that he’s been immortalised in his own playing card.

Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.

At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did he hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn’t know shit about the game. Here was a guy who had dedicated a good chunk of his life to mastering Magic, on a date with a girl who can barely play Solitaire. This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.

I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid arsehole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past his world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.

So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore. Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.



Okay, context established. Jon Finkel himself took to Twitter to post his version of the dates, which is collected in one easy to read version:



Thanks for all the support internet. People want "my side" but it was really a complete non event. Go out on a date that's kinda blah. Next day the girl tweets me about what shes reading about me, my reply is merely a prophetic, "Remember to use your powers only for good." She then texts me about serial killer dreams and I dont reply because I didnt think we had much chemistry. A couple days later I'm home and I'm a bit bored and I know she works right by me and seemed like the sort of girl I should like so I text her about grabbing a bite since I know she works around the corner. An hour later we meet up and it quickly becomes clear I'm bored, she's bored (I assume) but its raining heavily out. Eventually I suggest we head out anyways and luckily I find a cab. We go our separate ways and never speak again. At that point I just thought she was a nice girl, which I still mostly think. God knows we've all made poor decisions in our lives.



Mountains out of moleholes, basically, with Alyssa apparently being stuck for subject matter and seemingly deciding to go after Gawker/Gizmodo's demographic in an effort to ratchet up her page views. There's a lot of very good articles in rebuttal, take your pick:

“My Brief OkCupid Affair With a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player” UGH UGH UGH by kiala

How A Girl Named Alyssa Stepped on The Internet’s Last Nerve by Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts

The Science of Gawker's Nerd Baiting by Paul Tassi

Don't Be A Jerk by The Nerdy Bird/Jill Pantozzi

An Open Letter To Gizmodo Regarding Alyssa Bereznak And Her "OKCupid" Article. by Geek Girl Diva

Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too by Elly Hart (Gizmodo Australia)

Re: My Brief OkCupid Affair With a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player by Pop Culture Monster

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Date Alyssa Bereznak by Geek Mom/Ruth Suehle

and finally, the Dork Tower response by John Kovalic

So, back to the original title of this post. In this article, Monica Valentinelli suggests a "let your nerd hang out" celebration as a more constructive response instead of the rather ugly trolling that's going on in the comments of the original article (and remember, trollers, each click earns Alyssa money, so well done there, d'uh). In Monica's words:

SPEAK OUT WITH YOUR GEEK OUT

Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek.

Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests.


Sounds like a great idea to me. Who's in?

(There's also a Facebook page, for those who book the face.)

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