About two weeks ago or so, I saw a post on Facebook by Scott Noble, the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. It hyped the final edition of the paper for the 2012-2013 academic year, and specifically the piece by Cody Neff in the opinion section.
Maybe it's ego. Maybe I yearn for the spotlight. Maybe I just like people to talk about me. But, for some reason after reading that I thought to myself, "I wonder if Cody is making fun of me."
I had critiqued the paper a little bit over the last few months. Some people on the staff didn't seem to be big fans of me, in particular Cody Neff, who had left a blog comment or two here previously that was very critical of me.
Wednesday, May 1 came and I was on campus so I grabbed a copy. The first thing I read was the piece on the front page detailing Scott's conversation with the outgoing President of Concord, Dr. Gregory Aloia. Fine for what it was - a fluffy piece where we pretend he didn't fuck over Concord by leaving with very little notice.
I went to the opinion section and looked for Cody Neff's name. I found it next to a piece entitled "Top 5 Things I've Learned in College." Looked like he wasn't making fun of me, so I didn't read it and looked elsewhere in the newspaper.
I read Richard Babich's piece on the opinion section about his interactions with President Aloia. Then I looked over Sara Cameron's piece where she talks about all the rumors running rampant at Concord. I read the anonymous "Concerned Student" piece which was very critical of several aspects of Concord (and which I would later be accused of writing). I had a chuckle about the CSI: Miami parody of all the gazebos on campus. Honestly, I don't mind the gazebos.
I put the paper down and ate dinner at the cookout Concord was hosting for Spring Fling week. Not a wide selection of side dishes, but the hamburgers and hot dogs were pretty good. Then I went and wrote that blog talking about why I gave up on the SGA. That kind of became the topic of conversation for a few days. A lot of comments on Facebook.
A couple days ago I saw my copy of the final issue of The Concordian and realized that I had never read it after that fateful day a few weeks back. I picked it up and started reading about the lessons that Cody Neff learned in college.
The five lessons are kind of generic and things you would expect. But, what he writes about his experiences in how he learned those lessons is where he starts to shine. It was a really good piece about how college helped him step out of his comfort zone and how he became a better person as a result. I really liked it.
Then I read the end.
While talking about the kind of person he wants to be, he also made note of the kind of person he doesn't want to be: "As the semester winds down and I get ready to head out into the workforce, I can only hope that I don't end up boring or worse, like writing some lame blog and bouncing from minimum wage job to minimum wage job."
I'm never one to assume, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's taking a shot at me there.
It's one thing to make fun of my blog. I get it; some people don't like it. It's like The Concordian - it's something written that people can decide for themselves if they like it or not. Cody Neff, I guess, has decided that he doesn't like my blog. Honestly, I think there's enough stuff out there for everybody. If you don't like when I critique the newspaper or the SGA, read about me getting fired from my job, or I write about music a lot. There's a variety to what I post.
But, anyway. Cody has decided that in addition to taking shots at my blog, he is also going to make fun of how I pay my bills. Here's what I wrote about one of his pieces back in October, followed by his response:
An example of a bad opinion piece was the thing from issue 1 where the guy talks about an unprofessional professor. He is so vague and trying not to cause a stir that it's pointless. It reads more like he's talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor as opposed to him being fed up with the one he deals with. You read it and don't care. Name names. Be specific. You might create enemies, but you might also walk into a bar and have 5 drunks tell you they love what you write.
I wrote earlier in the blog about how I was at a bar and 5 people came up to me and said they liked my blog. Cody's response is below:
First off, why would tell me to name names and then not even have the decency to put my name in? I'm not going to mention names. It's unprofessional and calling the professors out by name borders on petty gossip. Why would I intentionally make an enemy out of someone that I would have to sit with for an hour each day? Besides, I WAS talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor. I didn't write names because there were too many to name. I'm not making a "best-of" list. Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks. Don't try to tell me how to do my job. Do I come to your work and tell you how to flip burgers? Leave me out of your childish ramblings.
You haven't been relevant for years and almost no one on the staff even knows who you are. You're just some pizza manager with a blog who thinks that he's Citizen Kane. The Concordian isn't going to change just because you don't like it. Stop being such a self-entitled baby. You haven't earned it.
Ouch. Here's what I said at the time:
Sorry it took me a while to reply. I'm horrible about checking for blog comments. Here are a couple replies...
I'm usually good about tagging people on facebook when I mention them in a blog. But, I didn't have the newspaper in front of me when I wrote this and didn't remember your name. But, it seems to have worked out since you saw it.
You write, "Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks." I meant the number 5 in a figurative manner, meaning that if you named names and stood up for yourself, you could gain the respect of those around you, which is what I have accomplished over the years.
I don't flip burgers. I am no longer a pizza manager. And, I've never seen Citizen Kane, so I don't get that final reference. I'm sure it doesn't paint me in a positive light lol.
On a more serious note, the ability to take constructive criticism is a very important skill to have. Nobody is perfect; you're not, I'm not. Everybody can improve in some way.
And, there's that. The thing that troubles me a little bit about this is that Cody seems to take a particular joy in making fun of my job situation. It's one thing to make fun of this blog. I wrote about his writing, so he writes about my writing in response. No big deal.
It doesn't bother me necessarily; I'm a thick-skinned guy, I'll be okay, but it does sort of come across as mean that his best defense is to make fun of the fact that I don't have a good job.
The Concordian is a learning experience. I've always said that the best way to learn is to make a mistake. You see what you did wrong and realize that you shouldn't do that. People are going to read the two occasions where Cody Neff made fun of how I pay my bills and they might get the impression that he's an asshole. That's probably not what he's going for.
And, I don't think that's accurate. He seems like a nice guy. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I've seen him at RadioShack twice. Maybe next time I see that guy I'll ask him if he's Cody.
I've elected to write a blog and occasionally be controversial with it. That's fair game. Make fun of that all you want. I work at RadioShack so that I can pay my water bill to take a shower and buy groceries to eat. That's not really something that you should make fun of somebody for. I'd even be okay with him making fun of the fact that I'm a 26-year-old college dropout. That's funny for everybody except me. I'm cool with poking fun at that, as long as it's not malicious.
Maybe one day Cody will look back at this article and show it to his kids. They'll say, "Daddy, what's this line about the blog and jobs about?" And Cody will look at it for a second, sigh deeply, and say, "You father was kind of a douchebag there and probably shouldn't have made fun of him for working hard and trying to make an honest living."