I just found out I haven’t existed since 2018.
With a new book out, I’ve been doing humiliating amounts of shameless self-promotion and as part of that process, I thought I should update my Wikipedia page.
I checked and found that the article about me was deleted in 2018. Someone named Captain Raju concluded that I wasn’t much of a writer because my book reviews came from Wisconsin, Iowa, and what he called my local paper in Minnesota.
That paper was the StarTribune.
There are a few things wrong with that. First, my local paper of record is actually the Northern Star, shining brightly on Clinton, Mn. (Pop. 430). I’m always excited when they review one of my books, but Captain Raju didn’t see fit to even mention them. The StarTribune offices are 180 miles away from me and the last time I checked it was the seventh largest paper in the United States.
Something makes me think either Captain Raju can’t read bylines, or he’s located near one of the coasts.
Many people would see this as a blip, but I’m choosing to take it as a personal insult to me and my entire region of the country.
Think I’m joking? I recently had a brief conversation with a guy who said he had to do a Google search to find out where Iowa was. I was deeply offended, and I don’t even like Iowa all that much.
For me, the worst part of being from a place that doesn’t matter is that it’s hard to be taken seriously. It’s frustrating. There are only a few basic truths in the universe and some people think because they learned them in a graduate seminar on Plato, and I learned them from Melvin Nagel while he was milking cows, they’re somehow superior. I’ve never understood that. After all, it was graduates of Harvard and Yale who put us into Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The smartest people on Wall Street missed the housing bust and most of the opinion makers punted on calling President Trump’s election. That’s not much of a track record and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. For Pete’s sake, New Yorkers elected Rudy Giuliani mayor – twice. You would think a historical footnote like that would dim the smugness factor.
If someone from Lyon mocks my pain au chocolat, I’m willing to take it like a man, because a lot of French people are better cooks than I am - a provable fact. But until the folks in the elite prove to me that they are, you know, elite, being treated like I don’t matter is going to make me grumpy.
After all, pedigrees don’t win the Kentucky Derby – you have to run the race. And some of us peasants are pretty quick.
A side note to my fellow nobodies. If you don’t want to be treated as though you’re stupid, it might help if you stop doing stupid stuff. You know who you are.
Here’s the deal. It’s not that I’ve been cancelled because of something I’ve done. If the folks at Wikipedia had actually read some of my stuff and decided it wasn’t very good, and if those people were better writers than I am, okay, that’s the way the ball bounces.
Instead, I’ve been erased because of who I am not. There’s a lot of that going around, for a lot of us.
I think that’s a mistake.
Copyright Brent Olson 2021
Brent, you're not kidding; and, you are in good company. I point to: Storm Lake https://g.co/kgs/Ltcf5T
My favorite line ‘ A side note to my fellow nobodies. If you don’t want to be treated as though you’re stupid, it might help if you stop doing stupid stuff. You know who you are.’
All too often I never find out what amazing things people I thought I knew have accomplished until I read their obituary after they die. Maybe we should all publish our obituary before hand.
"One Swallow (man) does not a summer make". For me an allusion to the influence, or lack thereof, of one or even a dozen men.
The particular individual you reference has no influence in the whole sphere of things. To liken this to an erasure of yourself is akin to allowing another to have power over you.
It is easy to pick out 'celebrities' or political figures who have made poor choices, this is true whether they are Wall Street or Main Street. Righteous anger is OK, but use it to right the wrong.
Being overlooked is a notation in my resume, and I wholeheartedly agree with your angst. Your seventh paragraph from the bottom should be enough to earn a Pulitzer, which should be more than enough to have your notation and reputation fully restored in Wikipedia.
Interesting- but being one of the nobodies in "flyover country ( southwestern Illinois ) , I wonder if I am one of those people doing the stupid things that I should stop- give me a clue as to what that might be. I agree with so much of what you are saying here. It seems like the "wise people" who get so much press and influence decisions in our country are not the people (like us nobodies) who actually get things done. And they are parasites living their high lifestyles on the backs of the nobodies- ok- time to stop this rant !
Thank again for reminding us that everything important is not due to the "smart" people on the coasts or at a big university. That attitude seems divisive and perhaps is a big reason for the divided politics of this country.