The other day, Alyssa Bereznak wrote a piece for Gizmodo (the piece has been altered to soften its language. You can find the original here), describing her date with a nerd she met on OKCupid. Bereznak was fairly dismissive of her date, Jon Finkel, who is the world champion at the card game Magic: The Gathering. What’s worse, she appeared to dismiss him simply because he was good at such a game. Bereznak refers to the date as a “horror story” but if that’s her version of a horror story, she really needs to meet a few of my friends who have had much worse luck in the online dating world. Also, a Gizmodo writer calling out a Magic player for being a nerd? Pot, meet the kettle with no sense of privacy or boundaries.
Bereznak’s piece is fascinating for a number of reasons. On the one hand, the piece itself is as bizarre as its venue of publication, so much so that I can’t imagine the people over at Gawker Media/Gizmodo did not know what they were doing by running it. They understood that they’d be pissing people off, and racking up a ton of links and attention in the process. As of this writing, it’s accumulated over 800,000 views, making Bereznak a rich intern and probably making Gawker owner Nick Denton pretty pleased with himself.
Over at Forbes, Paul Tassi asks the question that I also had when reading the piece:
So as a freelancer, and as a publisher, you have to ask yourself how much you want to sell your soul in order to bring in page views. I’m sure that was Gizmodo’s highest trafficked day in a long while, but at the cost of most people visiting saying “Wow, how could they have actually published this?” Alyssa might be getting a fat bonus check at the end of the month, but at the cost of having her name permanently etched into the internet as a shallow, mean human being. Was it worth it?
I do wonder if Bereznak knew that she’d be forever associating her (previously relatively little known) name with a self-affirmation of her shallowness and a categorical denunciation of geeks. It’s a fact that when you Google Bereznak’s name, the firestorm surrounding this piece will probably be on the first page of results for a long time to come. I can’t imagine that will be good for her future dating life, but who knows? Maybe that kind of thing appeals to some guys.
I spoke with friend and writer Natasha Vargas-Cooper regarding the piece. You can find audio of our conversation here. Apologies for the terrible sound quality: