Thanks to this column, I achieved a very modern and telling pseudo-fame. The upshot? I can’t wait to slink back into obscurity.
Here’s the deal: I wrote in this space an article mocking the privileged souls of Westchester and Connecticut, knee-jerk detractors of Occupy Wall Street. I made the suggestion — satiric not earnest -- that titans of suburbia hold demonstrations in their own cul-de-sacs for injustices like exorbitant parking fees at their local high-end mall before the real protests storm their way.
Occupy Wall Street has a lot of strengths, but was apparently a bit lacking, at least for the time, in the way of humor. They pounced, accusing me first in the comments section here of all manner of idiocy and insensitivity toward their cause, a cause I was, ironically, trumpeting.
Then they pulled out the big guns. And trained them on me with a humorous vengeance.
First came the Memes. For the uninitiated, Memes are wildly popular doctored photographs. An anonymous and mischievous soul will take a photo of someone they aim to flog and either Photoshop it into a humorous situation, or add a mocking caption. Last week, Memes of the police officer who pepper sprayed peacefully demonstrating college students went viral, with the disgraced campus cop digitally inserted into classic artworks, causally assaulting legendary painted figures with his pepper spray canister.
They didn’t go high art with me. Instead, pouncing on the name of this column (not my choice), they posted my column photo, labeling it “Repressed Suburban Father” and added captions like: “Lectures Kids on the Dangers of Marijuana….Still a Little High From Earlier.”
Next came a fake Twitter handle (now deleted), the ultimate in modern meta-mockery.
In the end, I got off easy when it comes to the drive-by intellectualism of our age. Used to be, readers had the sense with newspapers that you couldn't breach the castle wall. Few believed someone who wrote an article would get their missive, let alone reply to it. Now? Readers share every passing thought and journalists respond. Some complain that we’ve fallen into an open season with anonymous posters of internet comments firing off volleys of rage. That’s a lamentable turn, but when the discourse, as in this case, is leavened with humor—well, that simply adds to the patter in the public square. We all emerge better off.
But next time, could you at least use a less dorky photo?
Marek Fuchs is the author of "A Cold-Blooded Business," the true story of a murderer, from Westchester, who almost got away with it. His upcoming book on volunteer firefighting across America, “Local Heroes,” is due out in 2012. He wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column about life in Westchester for six years and teaches non-fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville. He also serves as a volunteer firefighter. You can contact Marek through his website: www.marekfuchs.com or on Twitter: @MarekFuchs.