Blogger’s Article About OkCupid Date With “Champion Dweeb” Causes Backlash
Gawker.com is a very popular website that bills itself as "the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip," focusing on celebrity news and various forms of media. Gawker, and one if its affiliates Gizmodo, are under fire for an editorial article that is being called nothing short of a "Hit Piece".
Posted on August 29th by Gawker Intern/Editor Alyssa Bereznak, the article "My Brief OkCupid Affair with a Magic The Gathering Champion" recounted Alyssa's experience of coming home drunk one night and deciding to set up an account on the internet dating site OkCupid. After a few weeks of receiving unsavory messages from men on the site, Alyssa received a polite message from a man inviting her out. After exchanging information, Alyssa invited her date to google her to find out more info, but she forgot to do the same in return. Alyssa met Jon Finkel for drinks and seemed to be immediately impressed with his appearance. Jon was a tall, skinny man with pierced ears and wearing a shirt from the Hedge Fund he works for. Over drinks they discussed several things like work and family, to which Alyssa mentions her younger brother is a "gamer". Jon replied that he played "Magic The Gathering" when he was younger. Not only did he play, he was very good at it. What Alyssa was about to find out is that she was out on a date with THEE John Finkel, 2000 Magic The Gathering World Champion! This man is held in such high esteem in the gaming world that he has his own Magic The Gathering playing card! Instead of being impressed that her date was the best of the best in his chosen hobby, Alyssa was already a little put off. After attending a one-man show, Alyssa went home and googled her date, finding a wikipedia page and youtube videos of various competitions he's participated in.
At this point, though obviously turned off by his hobby, Alyssa went on a second date with Jon a few days later. If she was actually interested in a second date, or had already decided to write an article about this and needed more info, remains to be seen. On their second date, Alyssa approached the subject of his gaming history,
"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."
Because of his passion for something she considered geeky, he was struck out at the plate. When writing her article about her OkCupid horror story, Alyssa insinuated that Jon failing to mention his gaming history (which she equated to a bad habit like biting fingernails) amounted to lying on his OkCupid profile. She thought she was on a date with a normal guy who works in financing, but ended up with a "Champion Dweeb". Alyssa finished her original article with,
"So what did I learn? Google the sh*t 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."
Shortly after posting her original article, there was an immediate outcry from readers who attacked Alyssa's shallow behavior and using this article to publicly attack and humiliate Jon. Alyssa has since edited the article twice, removing several lines including most of the conclusion shown above. The Australian version of Gizmodo has posted the original article, along with a disclaimer that they do no endorse her views, as well as a link to their response article "Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too."
Since the original post, Bereznak's internship has expired at Gawker, though not as a result of the article. Within a a few hours of the posting of the article, Bereknak took to Twitter to defend herself, saying,
"dudes, i don't think it's bad to be a dweeb. i just dont want to date someone i can't relate to. not an attack. more a cautionary tale."
Though Gawker is reluctant to comment on the backlash, Jon Finkel has been open about the situation and is taking it in stride. Playboy Playmate and G4's "Attack of the Show" personality Sara Underwood has already publically asked Finkel on a date. When CBS pointed out that the whole internet would love to see that date happen, Finkel replied,
"I definitely don't want to let down the Internet. I would definitely be down to go on a date with her, but not if it's televised (sorry everyone). Just not my thing."
Many people have feared the backlash to this story would result in many geeks/nerds "going back into the gaming closet." Over the past 15 years, many things that can be considered "geeky" have gone mainstream. Several of the top grossing films of all time can fall into the "geeky" category, and the annual Comic Con is one of the biggest conventions of the year. Many gaming and geek websites have made it a point to ensure all readers that the actions of one shallow woman should not dissuade anyone from being proud of who they are and what they find enjoyment in.