One of the things I came back to after my trip last weekend was this article in my RSS feed. Yes, I’m late to the party. I don’t care
The article sparked memes and hashtags and Wikipedia-crashing. I won’t go into details about why what she wrote was wrong, or how bad a person she is, because I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn’t think things through. We all think things we would never say aloud, but she picked a loud platform to say something stupid from and we all know the Internet can be a harsh playground. A lot has been been said. To the point where you almost have to feel bad for the girl, except for her hypocrisy. The only reason to post an article like that to Gizmodo is because the author thought it would be a place where the name Jon Finkel might mean something, and thus give the article relevance, but the main point of the article is something along the lines of “OMG guys who play Magic are such losers”, losers exactly like the target audience of the article. It was a recipe for disaster and I’m surprised the writer couldn’t see it coming from a mile away. I’m willing to bet that she’s learned a lesson, beyond “Google your date”.
Am I surprised that some girls are turned off by guys who engage in geeky hobbies? Shit, I’ve been role-playing since I was five and reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels since I was nine. You don’t need to tell me that those activities aren’t listed in books of aphrodisiacs.
But where I want to focus is on this portion, excerpted from the original post:
“Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles?”
The point being, to her mind, that this information was a barrier to their relationship and should have been disclosed up front. My answer is pretty simple:
You shouldn’t be required to post anything anywhere. You share what you want with who you want, and you generally share intimate details of your life with the people close to you, or with the people you want to bring in closer. It’s a dating site, some things can be considered essential information, like sex, sexual preference, marital status, and children, because all these things will help sort through the masses to find a range of people of interest. You can leave some of that stuff off, but it’s at your own risk because you risk getting exactly the wrong person right off the bat.
Yes, he was somewhat of a public figure, but he’s far from a household name. From Finkel’s point of view, if all he wanted was a girl to play Magic with, I can’t see why it would be hard for him to find one. There are uglier, poorer, less intelligent guys than him around, and he has geek cred on top of it all. I played Magic for many years, and I played against all kinds of people. Girls were in the minority, but they were there. Some were smart, some were hot, some were funny. A few were all of the above and handed me my ass in games as well. If Jon isn’t big on partying, spends a lot of his spare time playing Magic, and wants to meet people outside the game then I’m not surprised he’d want to, or need to, turn to an online dating site, and less surprised that he wouldn’t publicize who he was. It seems like he was looking for someone with interests that lay outside of the game.
By the same token, I bet her OKCupid profile doesn’t state that she writes for an extremely popular tech blog. Maybe he’s got the advantage of name recognition, but she has the advantage of platform. There’s very little Jon could do to hurt her reputation, but there’s a lot she could have done to bring him down. Should she have posted that up-front on her profile?
For all the same reasons. Even in this day and age where information flows like magic and people have gotten used to knowing everything they want to know immediately if not sooner, nobody’s entitled to information about you. You put information out on the Internet at your own risk, because it rarely goes away, and you keep the rest close to you to be doled out to those you trust. Especially on dating sites, I can’t see why anyone would detail every aspect of their life up front. Apparently Jon trusted her enough to bring up his hobby (granted it’s something she could have found on her own, but she didn’t so he was the one who brought it up), and it was thrown in his face. Maybe putting it out there would have stopped it before it started, or maybe she would have named him in an article about the dregs of dating sites instead.
In any case, the gaming community stood by him and everybody got a reminder to be careful what you write where the whole world can read it.