Dog Pile Essays

Dog Pile Essays-76
Then, in 2015, he wrote a viral, and virally hated, essay for .It was called “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.” The piece was based on a simple and not particularly controversial premise: Boudinot, who had just quit his teaching job, argued that writing cannot be taught.After it was published, his defense of Justine Sacco and others was cast by some as an assault on social justice itself, as though by taking a stand against call-out culture, he—a cis, white man—was, in effect, silencing marginalized voices himself.

Then, in 2015, he wrote a viral, and virally hated, essay for .

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I agreed, and over the course of our conversations, I realized he was right: His new story was far bigger and more interesting than the old one. It follows the stories of people like Justine Sacco, whose poorly worded joke on Twitter led to a massive pile-on and cost her her job in 2013, and Jonah Lehrer, the best-selling author and former contributor who, among other crimes, was busted making up Bob Dylan quotes.

Sacco and Lehrer both apologized for their sins, but in neither case did it particularly help.

At the time, he wasn’t, but this spring, he emailed me and said he was working on something new.

He’d tell me the old story, but only if I listened to the new one.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the secret project he wanted to tell me about, either.

But then Boudinot, a bearded, full-cheeked man in his mid-40s who often has a yoga mat in tow, asked for my earbuds. This technology Boudinot showed me won’t be on the market for a few more years, but it is coming, and Boudinot will have a vital part in someday bringing it to our ears.Punishment is one thing, but punishment in front of a crowd is a whole different animal.Ironically, writing a book about public shaming led to Jon Ronson’s shaming as well.I handed them over, and he plugged them into his i Phone. “Just listen.” Boudinot pressed play, and all of a sudden, I had the uncanny sense of being in a puddle. This is not where he would have envisioned his career landing just a few years ago, but then something happened that derailed his life as he knew it.“Very few people have heard what you’re about to experience,” he said. It sounded like water dripping on leaves, but unlike traditional audio, the sound seemed to move around in space. He lost his friends, his colleagues, his career, and he became a pariah in the community he’d spent decades as a part of.The site is long gone, but today, if you visit Ryan, it redirects you to a post on a now-defunct local gossip blog that compared Boudinot’s refusal to apologize for his essay to sexual assault. Soon after the essay was published, Boudinot stepped down from Seattle City of Literature, the nonprofit he’d founded. All of this—the personal and professional consequences of one essay—was what I wanted to talk to Boudinot about.I’ve written about the contemporary phenomenon of “cancelation” before and I reached out to Boudinot last winter to see if he was interested in telling his story.They circled above me for a while, and then began to dive bomb, pecking at my head.This early, tentative disapproval felt like the terns circling.In one particularly memorable scene in his book, Ronson writes about Lehrer’s attempt to publicly atone while giving the keynote speech at a journalism conference.As he spoke onstage, tweets reacting to his talk were projected on a giant screen.


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