Lesson of the Week: Don\’t Mock Geeks

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If you’re not well versed in Internet drama, a megaton dropped last night when a Gawker intern decided to publicly humiliate the Magic World Champion in an article posted on Gizmodo. Alyssa Bereznak, whose twitter profile now lists her as a “former” Gizmodo intern (we can hope) went off on a rant after she made an OkCupid profile while drunk and ended up on a date with Jon Finkel, the most successful Magic: The Gathering player to ever live.

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.

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.

Her snarky tone and public humiliation of Finkel, who thanks to being a partner in a hedge fund and his M:TG winnings has more money than Alyssa Bereznak will ever dream of, naturally rubbed the internet the wrong way. Prominent geek voices such as Felicia Day and Veronica Belmont both took to twitter to voice their disapproval.

But for the geek powered Internet, and especially from a story posted on a blog like Gizmodo, that wasn’t enough. The entire ‘net has unloaded in this idiot and made it a point to make her know how stupid she was being for the article. Whole new memes have appeared, and Finkel himself gave his side of the story on his twitter last night.

The moral of the story is if you’re going to have a high and mighty attitude over a geek hobby; it’s probably best to not attack that hobby and the people who partake in it by writing a snarky article on a gadget blog. The Internet will call you out on it.