Eric Zorn: Portrait of A Man’s Relentless Self-Owning

It takes a breathtaking lack of self awareness to be rude on Twitter, then claim moral high ground when receiving a negative response. And it takes even less self awareness to use a national platform to write a piece in some desperate attempt to win the argument. But to my utter bewilderment, that’s just what Eric Zorn did. Here’s the peach of a tweet that started it all:

Out of the blue, Eric Zorn, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, quote tweeted me. I never speak with Eric Zorn, I don’t read his columns, and he isn’t on my radar in any way.  So I was a little surprised to see this:

Hm. Taunting a stranger on Twitter with a ‘coveted like.’ You know, like normal people do.

Feeling defensive, I explained why I disagreed in a thread…but we’ll get back to that later in my piece.  His article was so bizarre, full of self-owning, lies, and misdirection I felt I had to break it down piece by piece. Zorn’s tantrum of an article begins:

“My first big Twitter spat began shortly after 7 a.m. Friday morning when I came across a tweet posted by @bougeoisalien”

Zorn starts with a lie, and it just goes downhill from there. He got in a spat with my friend Wayne Gladstone, author of Notes From The Internet Apocalypse way back in November. Nice try Eric, but I’m not your first ‘twitter spat.’ It’s telling that Zorn felt compelled to write about his fight with a woman on the left, but not with a man. I also couldn’t help but notice he never flippantly offered Gladstone a ‘coveted like.’

Zorn then continues, “The writer was implying that the media deliberately keeps people misinformed, an implication with which I take issue.”

While not all media distorts stories to fit the narrative they’re trying to push, the ones most readily available- Fox, CNN and MSNBC do. Obviously, there are excellent publications and incredible reporters, but to deny that our media has in no way failed us is unbelievably disingenuous.

Zorn then goes on to explain twitter basics to his audience of literally tens of readers who apparently live in a cave and don’t know what a computer is, “Because of the way re-tweets work, @bourgeoisalien was alerted to my response. Almost immediately I was hit with ten consecutive tweets back at me – a short essay broken up into 140-character salvos”

Thank you. You are a genius and clearly very good at the internet. Can you explain how Facebook works next? Below is the thread where I responded to Zorn’s tweet, he assembled it in paragraph form for his column, but this is the original:

Zorn: “The above paragraph reads well when unpacked and reassembled, but not so much when chopped up and presented as a “thread.” This why I never respond at length to such offerings or try to present my own ideas that way. I don’t fault people who prefer to pontificate and argue in threads, but I’ve never found it be conducive to an actual exchange of ideas. Not only do threads tend to get shouty, the conversation, such as it is, often invites hecklers.”

No, Zorn preferred a pompous hit and run, and to then attack me in his column. How Zorn thinks writing a hit piece about a stranger in the Chicago Tribune is “an exchange of ideas” is truly baffling. The problem is, Twitter is public and in addition to me hundreds of my followers found his comments incredibly out of touch and insulting. Zorn would rather speak about someone than to someone, which is why I assume Eric is so greatly lacking in wisdom and depth in his writing.

Zorn: “@bourgeoisalien – the Twitter handle, I’ve since learned, of writer Elizabeth Hamilton Argyropoulos — usually has a lighter touch.”

Hey, thanks for putting my name out there in this column so people can harass me. Yes, I’m a writer and have an Amazon profile, but in this column, Zorn seems to put it out there as an act of malice. I can only guess I struck a nerve with him, touched a greater truth and he suspects I’m correct: our media as a whole has failed the American electorate and he lashed out.

He then adds my comment to one of my Twitter followers who also found Zorn’s behavior vile:  She replied, “I’m sick of people in media not doing their job — educating voters on issues, and then have them say, “lol, Americans are dumb.”

I stand by this comment- I see journalists all the time talking about Americans in a condescending manner and quite frankly, it angers me. I’ve done a great deal of research on the subject, I lived in Europe for years, and have been fortunate enough to witness other education systems and foreign media. One writer I became aware of in my research, and everyone should be required to read is John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down.

There’s a reason they don’t want us to think critically in this country, our news is mostly fluff, and so many Americans are working non stop just to pay basic costs of living: because once you start to think, have time to think, and truly wake up, you realize that the wealth inequality in America is grotesque and you want to fight it. However, if you’re too tired, can’t think straight, working nonstop, and the news doesn’t inform- a voter is less apt to demand change. It’s by design.

Zorn: “This was an hour after my first response, I’d moved on to other reading, other topics, and I really should have let this go.

Says the man who started this, and is so busy and moved on so much he wrote an entire column about a stupid twitter spat in a national paper. Sure, I totally believe him.

Zorn soldiers on, “But since this particular line of argument irritates me, I rose to her bait: “And I’m sick of people complaining we’re not putting the information out there,” I responded. “We are. Every damn day. Millions of words— facts, analyses.”

Sadly, those millions of words are often the wrong ones, and nothing illustrates my point more than this vapid, ridiculous column Zorn chose to write.

You proved my point for me. Thank you, Zorn.

He then presents himself as too lofty for Twitter, which is ironic, since he started this entire twitter debacle and collects tweets each week for his column. “Were I given to presenting my ideas in strings of tweets – I would have elaborated: Every American with a Facebook account has fingertip access to a vast variety of other media sources — left, right, middle; responsible, rabid, sober. Even if the biggest media outlets were conspiring to keep the public ignorant and “easily manipulated,” which they are not-

Let me stop Zorn right there. Thomas Frank, a historian and award winning journalist, among hundreds of other academics and journalists would disagree. Eric offers no evidence that what he’s saying is correct, he is reacting emotionally and without substance.

Zorn: …it would be an impossible task without the cooperation of vast numbers of incurious people, people who watch only one news channel or stick to only one web site for information while spending most of their free time on sports and entertainment. Sure, wealth and educational inequalities are big problems. People who have to work two jobs to stay afloat are stressed.”

If “sure, they’re stressed” doesn’t underscore how out of touch liberal elites are I don’t know what does. “Are stressed?” That’s it? “Are stressed?”Buddy, what America do you live in? People are working long hours for close to nothing, and it’s gotten worse under both Democrats and Republicans since the Democrats turned their back on the New Deal in the early 1980s. ‘Stressed’ is not a big enough word for what most Americans go through in 2017. For example, 69% of Americans have less than 1,000 bucks in savings and over 50% make less than 30,000 a year. So when you sit there a defend a media that does things like having the head of CNN publicly admit it cares more about ratings than issues don’t tell me that’s not a huge problem.

The Zorn self-owning continues, “But don’t tell me that their credulity when it comes to, say, fake stories on Facebook about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton being in the final stages of brain cancer, is part of a vast media conspiracy to keep them uninformed. They evidently like their bubbles and their silos. Don’t patronize them and don’t insult journalists.”

See what Eric did here? That’s called gaslighting, kids. He jumped to the most egregious examples of fake news, glossing over the fact that NY Times, Washington Post, and many large papers also largely and often get facts wrong, fail to address the true root of problems while pushing corporate agendas. It is not me that’s patronizing the electorate Zorn, it’s you.

But my favorite line in his meltdown is, “Don’t insult journalists.” Why? Have we lost our right to free speech? Am I not allowed to call out a news anchor or reporter if they lie, steal, or cheat? What lack of logic and reason has eaten away at your brain, Zorny?

He then tries once again to paint himself as standing on some gossamer moral high ground as it crumbles beneath his feet: “I did not write this. But @bourgeoisalien wouldn’t let the subject go, instead complaining to the world about my promise to reward her with “a coveted ‘like,’”

Oh, Zorn-O…do remind me to let things go. How do I do that? By writing an entire article about a twitter argument I started in the Chicago Tribune. Is that how? Email me, buddy.

He quotes me again: “That is the saddest shit I’ve ever heard,” she wrote, totally missing the ironic overstatement in my reference to the mundane, nearly meaningless click of approval that twitter users frequently offer one another. “What are we here, in middle school?”

OK, here’s the thing. You’re not funny. I hope that clears things up. How you got a job writing for The Chicago Tribune is a mystery.  He calls a twitter ‘like’ meaningless and mundane, and then writes an article about Twitter.

The self owning never, ever stops.

Old Zorn on the Cob then pecks out on his donut crumb covered keyboard, “I had to fire back at that and tweeted”

This is perfect. For so many reasons- aside from the fact that Zorn has repeatedly put me on his tweet of the week poll and clearly knows I’m not ‘totally humorless, angry and sad’ he also thinks “I’ll reward you with a coveted like” is funny during the fallout of the scores of sexual assault reports at the hands of powerful men towards vulnerable women.  A good comedian knows his room, and pal, not only do you not know the room, you don’t know the house. You see Zornet, if you make a joke, and it bombs and people found it rude, suck it up, apologize, and definitely don’t write a column doubling down on calling a woman on a public platform ‘sad and humorless’ because she didn’t find, “Change your silly opinion and I will reward you with my coveted like” funny.

Angry online Zorn continues towards the end: “For the next 24 hours, my notification in-box was flooded with contemptuous asides from her and many of her supporters accusing me of sexism, ignorance, arrogance and general mopery.”

You deserved it, buddy. Play a shitty game, you get a shitty prize. Your comments were ignorant, arrogant, and whether intentioned or not, sexist to boot.

Close to finishing his sad-sack column, he tells his many, many tens of readers, quoting me, “I couldn’t believe what I read yesterday morning from him,” @bourgeoisalien posted, still seething at 9:21 a.m. Saturday. “And he thinks he decides what’s funny? Bitch, please.

I wasn’t seething. At that point I was finally laughing, thinking about how ridiculous Zorn was to have written that idiot article in a major American newspaper. When I say, “Bitch, please” that’s like a laugh emoji, fella. I know, Zorn. Humor is hard for you, bless your heart.

Zorn ultimately not only continues digging his hole, he jumps in, covers himself with dirt, and screams, ‘Bury me!’ at the end of his man tantrum:

“I observed this in what was to be my last contribution to this exchange, which her heaviest and most haughty supporters continued into Sunday. The left produces nearly all the best comedians, but along with them a veritable army of earnest scolds — touchy, hyper-literal handwringers with a suffocating sense of their own virtue. Not one on team @bourgeoisalien caught the wink in my declaration that I get to decide what’s funny.”

What wink? You know, for a writer, you kind of suck at getting a point across. It’s not the fault of the audience for thinking you’re not funny, it’s your fault for being out of touch, unfunny, and shitty during this entire thing.

The above tweet was when Zorn-Nuts published his article. See the above ratio? My ‘lefty, humorless, supporters’ are actually hilarious and wonderful. The comments on the above tweet in support of me are hysterical. I highly suggest scrolling though them at some point. People on the left are funny. You’re just stuck in a different era.

Finally, we can all breath a sigh of relief, baby Zorn’s tirade is almost done: “Sheesh. As one essayist put it in July, 2016: “I’m exhausted by seeing satirists attacked by multitudes of asinine or threatening comments on their pieces by people who have no clue what a joke is in written form.” That essayist was, of course, @bourgeoisalien herself in a piece headlined “Calm Down Douchebag, It’s Satire: A Few Words To The Humor-Impaired.”

Zorn ends his self-ownage by quoting my essay back to me. Now THERE’S your investigative journalism, Chicago Tribune readers!

What Zorn fails to acknowledge is that my piece was about the deeper meaning of satire. In my essay I write, “Now, consider the definition of Satire one more time, specifically this portion, “to expose and criticize people’s stupidity.” The role of the satirist is to expose racism, sexism, inequality, bullies, hypocrisy, and this is just to name a few, all falling under the larger umbrella of stupidity. And it’s a damn good thing satire exists: dedicated to social, political, and deeper criticism through the use of comedic elements. Often, just getting the conversation started is half the battle and the use of comedy can soften the message and engender a meaningful discussion. ”

That’s the part you should have examined, Eric. You are no satirist. You are the opposite. You failed to understand my tweet, suggested I edit for your world view, and did it in a stupid, condescending manner.

That’s not satire, buddy. That’s just being an asshole.



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