The Washington Post

Jon Finkel, Magic game master, and the travails of dating online

Jon Finkel had a bad date. (Bruce Gilbert/Newsday)

Update: Monica Hesse discussed Jon Finkel’s fate over at the Web Hostess chat. Go see what she had to say about dating in the digital age.

It’s tough out there in the dating world, especially in this confusing digital age. When you break up, do you defriend the ex on Facebook? Before a date, should you Google the prospective lover? Do you go for the free OkCupid profile or spend a little cash to upgrade to

These were not questions our grandparents had to ask.

However, they all seem relatively stress-free compared to the one Jon Finkel had to ask himself Monday night: when a date goes bad, and she blogs all about it on a famous gossip site, how do you respond?

Two weeks ago, Finkel had a couple dates with a young lady he met on OKCupid. They had dinner, took in a show, the normal accoutrements of a New York date. They hit it off enough to set up a second meeting.

That young lady, Alyssa Bereznak, happens to write for tech gossip blog Gizmodo. Uncharmed by the second date, she took to the blog Monday to write up her “Brief OKCupid Affair With a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player.”

It seems Finkel, when not escorting women about town, loves the stragetic card game Magic. Not only does he love it; he’s very, very good at it, winning the top prize at international contests nine times over the last decade.

While on the date with Bereznak, he mentioned this bit of personal history and she choked on her beer. She wrote: “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?”

Many readers were unhappy with Bereznak’s portrayal of the gaming world. Even actress Felicia Day came to his defense, “I'm so appalled at this article if he actually didn't know she was gonna post it. What a violation.”

Gizmodo Australia disowned the article, writing its own post saying “women can be predators online too.”

Bereznak amended her post to say it was meant as a humorous cautionary tale about online dating, and then disappeared online.

As for Finkel, the card player could have played the blogpost off causally, ignored it even, but he embraced the story with aplomb, taking to Twitter and Reddit to respond to people’s interest in the tale.

Finkel may not have Bereznak’s heart, but he does have a whole slew of dating offers, international attention and thousands of anonymous online fans.

Love in the Internet age. Ain’t it grand?


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