A Brief Coda on the Alyssa Bereznak/Jon Finkel Magic Nerd Incident

If you’ve been without Internet this week or something, you may have somehow missed the explosion of nerd rage when a female Gizmodo writer posted an article about discovering that her Internet date was actually Magic world champion Jon Finkel, and her horror at having been mislead. I guess he wasn’t wearing his “Gaming Nerd” arm patch.

A lot has been said about this. Really, a lot, and I’m not going to add much more. If you’re desperate to read the original, it’s here (although it’s been sanitized slightly, there’s a harsher version floating around somewhere).

First, I’ll point out that io9 is part of the Gawker network of sites, and I write for io9, therefore I’m part of that conglomeration. I just want to observe that this gossipy piece did not appear on Jezebel (although it was cross-posted there, and lambasted as thoroughly as it was everywhere else), but on Gizmodo. That’s a site where people talk about computers and technology and things like that. You know, nerds. I also want to observe that Gawker sites have editors, and this made it through them before being posted. In other words, this wasn’t some rogue intern drunk blogging. It’s generated a crapload of hits, of course, because when you make nerds mad, they get all ornery and tell all their friends about it. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that someone knew that would happen.

That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an insipid article to begin with, an article whose basic premise is only so much middle school cafeteria chatter. But Adam Barnello at Channel Fireball explained very eloquently why this sort of thing makes us gamers (and Star Trek fans, and cosplayers, and so on) so upset at this sort of thing:

“Normals” don’t get why we’re so interested in the things we like. They don’t get why we can spend hours upon hours sitting in conference centers, or kitchen tables, or game stores playing a card game that looks boring or silly to them. They think we sit there, pretending to be wizards, casting spells on our opponent and making believe. They don’t understand the drive and the competition of the game, or the world-building, or the intricacies and nuances of play, or the allure of the perfectly tuned deck. They don’t understand the way that the game wraps you up and keeps you safe, during all the times when things are going wrong; how it’s the one thing that allows you to feel normal in a world that doesn’t make sense. How when everything else in your life is spinning out of control, and you feel like the world is crumbling around you, the game allows you to take your mind off of everything – to escape into something pure, and forget about all of your problems for a while. The rest of the people you know, the best of the people you know all “get it,” and accept who you are as you are – because of the game.

You can find the rest of his piece here — it’s worth the read.

3 Responses to A Brief Coda on the Alyssa Bereznak/Jon Finkel Magic Nerd Incident

  1. wow. what a bitch. half a million hits so far, disparaging him as a potential mate and “mother’s warn your daughters” that sounds like he’s a sexual predator. Interestingly his strikes were not about the dahmer show, but rather the fact the he was really into magic.

    I guess the golden age of geek is not really here. or maybe this is its limit.

  2. I guess I’m confused. I wasn’t aware of this… controversy(?) probably because it wasn’t cross-posted to Jalopnik. I don’t really see a point to the article. If anything, it makes the author seem shallow while saying very little about Magic the Gathering and folks who play it other than that the author doesn’t like them for inexplicable reasons. I’m kind of surprised it made it through Gizmodo’s editors. It doesn’t really seem to fit with what they have going on.

    OkCupid should probably be discussed on Lifehacker. Magic the Gathering sounds like io9 material. Icky nerd date probably belongs on Jezebel.

    I’m sure Gizmodo generated a TON of new hits for itself posting it though. Good for them. I don’t frequent that site, but I find it hard to believe they make a habit of creating… see, I want to call it sensationalist, but it isn’t even that really… articles to draw nerdrage hits. This might be new ground for them, and I’m usually a fan of new marketing techniques.

    Here’s the thing: It wasn’t even that menacing. If they want an article trashing nerds and making people feel bad, they should hire me to write it. Maybe the original is much more venomous.

    My initial reaction to the article hasn’t changed, even after skimming through a few times more. She’s shallow and this article seems out of place. Oh and, Who cares?

    I just hope Gawker doesn’t start allowing ranty forum post-style articles on their other sites. Well, at least not the ones I read anyway.

  3. If my blind date turned out to be Jon Finkel I doubt I’d be all that disappointed, actually. I’d probably try to get him to sign my [card]Shadowmage Infiltrator[/card]. Once I stopped gibbering on the floor. You know, I can see why he doesn’t advertise that he’s World Champ. Fame must be awkward.

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