Novelist Keith Gessen, having been ridiculed here and elsewhere on the Web over the past week, is still trying to take back the internet from mean people. But he just had a sudden, happy epiphany, in which he realized that these vicious critics are not really being mean to him but toward their own caricature of him. They're just "bored at work" and are trying to have fun, so they imagine Gessen to be the juicy target they crave and lash out. "So, it's cool," the very important intellectual wrote. (He later rephrased this as, "You know, whatever.") Gessen is so relieved that the internet meanies don't hate him (just the distant, imagined "him") that he's invited us all to his place, or at least his workplace, for a big Friday night bash! Our nice, in-person selves will "take back the internet" from our anonymous-behind-a-keyboard selves! Bring your kittens and so forth!! Time/place, along with a longer explanation of why Gessen is so totally over you, after the jump.
I had always imagined the commenters as a pack of wolves… and if they smelled blood, my blood, because there I was with them, they would pounce. And then we could have it out.
Instead, the commenters wanted me to leave. It was as if I'd misunderstood. Dude, said the commenters, in effect: We weren't talking about you. We were talking about "Keith Gessen." You're just a name to us. Kind of a funny name, actually. And an author photo. Kind of an obnoxious author photo. But we don't mean you, personally. We're bored at work. Come on.
And that was really strange. I have a friend who occasionally makes the argument: You've put yourself out there, now people can take their shots. I have another friend who puts it a little differently: You manifest yourself in public, and then people will make of it what they will. But this didn't feel like either of those things. It was more as if I'd given up my name and photograph as an offering, for people to take shots and interpret those things-not me. That was the deal.
And, if you look at it that way, it's kind of hard to argue. I have no interest in ruining other people's fun. I like fun.
So, it's cool.
... Enough! Ultimately the battle for the internet will have to take place somewhere OUTSIDE the internet, that is to say in the world of flesh and blood, and toward that end, readers of this Tumblr, I announce a TAKE BACK THE INTERNET PARTY.
This Friday night. 8 pm until midnight.
n+1 office in DUMBO
68 Jay St. #405
York St. F stop closest stop
Entrance on Jay St. a little past the intersection with Front
All Tumblr readers welcome! And others. Even if you've said terrible things about me on the internet, I forgive you. I know you didn't really mean me. Even if you did.
(Image via Titlepage)