I rarely apologize, but I think I will now. Actually, I want to apologize for being a member of the human race, because, humans — as it turns out — really suck.
I have been a long-time fan of the game show Jeopardy!
, even going back to its roots in the 60s when it was hosted by Art Fleming. But the 80s revival of Jeopardy!
with host Alex Trebek has been a source of entertainment and an even bigger source of trivia for years. The random tidbits that I have picked up on Jeopardy!
over the years have offered invaluable
help in countless trivia contests I have played aboard cruise ships
. I watch Jeopardy!
every night and I even DVR the show in case I won't be in front of the television when it's on. To be clear, I watch Jeopardy!
for the show. Not the host.
Not the contestants.
For the content of the show. Period.
I stayed out of the whole "who will host" argument after the passing of Alex Trebek. I really didn't care who
hosted the show however, I am glad that Mehmet Oz was not selected from those who were given a week-long trial run
As far as the contestants are concerned, I really don't care about them. When I watch a recorded Jeopardy! episode, I skip the interview portion of the program. I am anxious for the continuation of the first round of Jeopardy! rather than hear about what some guy did on a college trip or how some woman's husband proposed to her. I respected a few of the extended runs that players like Matt Amodio, Amy Schneider, Mattea Roach and Philly's own Ryan Long enjoyed. They were exciting in a "how long will they last" sort-of way. However, I do not like when a particular contestant thinks it's their show, their five minutes in the spotlight. I don't like over-confident players — displaying arrogance, cockiness and unnecessary swagger.
That was Rowan.
In a recent "Second Chance" Tournament, a group of smart-as-a-whip "also-rans" were invited back to Jeopardy!
to compete for two open spaces in the upcoming "Tournament of Champions." Among those chosen to play was Rowan. While obviously smart and deserving of a spot in the tournament, Rowan was smarmy and brash and offered their answers in an "of course I know this" tone of voice accompanied by a palpable bluster and egotistic head-bob. During their interview (yes, I watched it live), Rowan was insufferable, as they told unremarkable tales of their everyday life. The further Rowan made it through quarter finals, semi-finals and, eventually, finals, the more irritating they became. Rowan screamed answers with an air of superiority. I'm surprised that the other, more humble contestants didn't take a swing at them. Much to my dismay, Rowan made it to the Tournament of Champions.
When the much-anticipated Tournament of Champions began, my wife and I watched as several familiar faces (as well as a few unfamiliar faces) popped up to compete for the $250,000 prize awarded at the end of the two-week event. On Day Four of the quarter-finals round, Rowan was pitted against two contestants, neither of whom did I recall from their initial run. Just before the game began, I tweeted this:
That's it. One tweet and I continued to watch that evening's episode of Jeopardy! as I have done countless times before. If you'll notice, that particular tweet got 47 "likes." Fairly high for me, just some nobody with 568 followers. My only motivation for this tweet was that I found Rowan to be thoroughly annoying. Their on-screen antics detracted from the actual game play. I couldn't imagine their decidedly childish behavior going up against the likes of proven adversaries as the aforementioned Matt Amodio or Amy Schneider, who plowed over opponents in a record 40-game run during the regular season. Rowan's smugness had the potential of making the final rounds tedious to watch. So, I wanted them out.
However, one Twitter user revealed the darker reason that this tweet received so many "likes." Someone replied to my tweet, saying "Ditto... bye to him, her, them and all the damn pronouns." I don't have time or tolerance for that shit. When I tweeted my sentiment, the thought of pronouns or who Rowan was as a person never crossed my mind. I simply found them annoying. I blocked the Twitter user who replied to me in search of some comeraderie.
Rowan originally appeared on the Jeopardy! Season 37 finale, coming in as a runner-up against the seemingly unstoppable Matt Amodio. As Rowan disclosed during their "Second Chance" Tournament interview, they identify as non-binary and they appeared under a different name on that show. Rowan explained that they used the consolation prize money to pay the fees required for an official name change, shedding their "dead name"* once and for all and choosing a sobriquet more suited to the person they are. Rowan continued to tell current host Ken Jennings that they are "back on Jeopardy! with a second chance, as my true self." It was nice little moment of pride. Of course, they went right back to being annoying as soon as game play resumed.
My tweet never mentioned any of this. For goodness sakes, it took me nine paragraphs to mention it. Why? Because it wasn't important and it had absolutely no bearing on my dislike for Rowan. I found Rowan to be annoying for the reasons I noted earlier. That's it. Nothing to do with who they love or where they shop or what movies they like or what's their favorite color. I don't care about any of those things. I merely found Rowan's personality to be grating.
But in these times — these most polarizing of times — people are quick to point out differences between "us" and "them," with unclear boundaries determining who is "us" and who is "them." The internet has become a festering cesspool of bigotry and separatism with people using the anonymity of a Twitter handle to voice their vicious opinions. People are jerks and they continue to show themselves as jerks any chance they get.
I maintain that my original tweet was meant as a condemnation of Rowan's irritating manner of answering questions on a game show. It was essentially a joke. Pretty much, everything I post on social media is a joke.
Until it isn't.
* the birth name of a transgender person who has changed their name as part of their gender transition.