The world of Nerds erupted in a fit of frothy, collective rage Monday after popular geek culture website Gizmodo published a personal essay by former Gizmodo intern and freelance writer Alyssa Bereznak, which brutally bashes the egos of anyone who’s ever played a round of Magic: The Gathering.
The crux of the article is this: Ms. Bereznak got drunk and made a profile on dating site OKCupid. Bombarded by messages from mouth-breathers, misspellers and misogynists, Bereznak eventually got a note from somebody “normal,” and decided to meet this average Joe in person.
Much to Bereznak’s dismay, her normal guy ended up being none other than “Jon motherf**king Finkel,” the 2000 Magic world champion who has a Magic card modeled after him and is renowned as one of the greatest Magic players in history. (He now works for a hedge fund.)
After their first date, Bereznak did what anybody would do: she googled Finkel. After finding out his Magic-laden past, she decided to give him another chance, and the pair met up for another round of drinks. That’s when things got ugly.
As Bereznak writes: “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.”
The admittedly nerdy Gizmodo readership instantly began blasting Bereznak as infinitely shallow, arrogant and worse. Of course, that’s likely the reaction Bereznak expected, as she concluded her piece by saying, “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.”
The admission of Bereznak’s internal ugliness wasn’t enough to quell the growing hoard of gamers, dorks, nerds and dweebs who came to throw stones at Bereznak from the article’s comments section. Eventually, the pooling outrage overflowed onto other websites. And before too long, the proud nerds of Reddit called for Finkel to tell his side of the story in the “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) subreddit. And today, he did just that.
“Hi people, I’m Jon Finkel. I went out uneventfully with a girl a couple weeks ago and we never spoke again,” wrote Finkel in his AMA introduction. “Then she posts about how she cant believe I didn’t warn her I was an ex magic world champion, and the internet had issues with that.”
When one Redditor asked how he felt about his personal life suddenly ending up the subject of the most-talked about article on one of the top websites in the world, Finkel said he felt “violated.”
“Even though the post itself didn’t make me look bad at all (at least I didnt think),” wrote Finkel. “Still, its sort of like someone publishing emails you wrote to your girlfriend, or posting part of your diary – it just feels wrong”
Despite the mild invasion of privacy, and ribbing he took from his friends about the article, Finkel seems perfectly fine and relatively unaffected by the piece. Bereznak, on the other hand, has been fending off a sour wash of personal attacks for the past 24 hours. Of course, the bad taste is sweetened by the fact that her article is now one of the most talked-about pieces on the Web. And, as of this writing, it has been visited by more than 675,000 readers — a feat for which Gawker Media (which owns Gizmodo) will likely pay her handsomely. So, hey, no harm done. Right?