“Let’s face it, people on this campus are either addicted to Wesleying or pot, and I don’t smoke pot.”
If you follow this blog as neurotically as I do (and trust me, you don’t), you’ve noticed by now a commenter by the pseudonym of “Ayn Rand.” Unprecedented in the history of this blog, ze has carved for hirself a distinctive Wesleying persona, without so much as a WordPress account or a traceable identity. Every day, a slew of new Wesleying posts; and every day, usually without fail, one or two or three new comments by “Ayn Rand” (my personal favorites can be found here and here and here), identifiable only by a consistent fake email address and a trademark brand of erudite, well-crafted snark.
I took notice. I became fascinated. Who is this “Ayn Rand”? Why does ze comment as “Ayn Rand”? What makes hir tick? In some ways, Wesleying comments are like the ACB—you can be as much of a bitch as you like, free from social repercussion. But unlike on the ACB, “Rand” shows us, you can construct your own recognizable internet identity, still veiled under that cloak of anonymity.
So I got into contact. Sort of. I asked hir to email me, from a pseudonymous email account, and answer a few questions, which ze obligingly did, while maintaining full anonymity. (Actual subject line: “Is Atlas Shrugging, or is it the weight of the snow and ice too much for him?”) “Rand” claims to be a current Wesleyan student. I never found out hir identity, but maybe I don’t want to. I have my suspicions, but I’ll keep them to myself. It could be my best friend. It could be the kid behind me in the Pastabilities line. It could be you. On some level, I realized, we’re all “Ayn Rand.”
Fine. I’ll stop. Full interview below.
What is your connection to the University? Give as much or little detail as you like.
I am a current Wesleyan student.
You’ve built quite a persona for yourself in the Wesleying comments section. What brings you to Wesleying so often? What inspires your prolific commenting?
Let’s face it, people on this campus are either addicted to Wesleying or pot, and I don’t smoke pot. As a big fan of satire, I’m good at coming up with pithy quips or observations when looking at a post. And once I’m already procrastinating/getting my Wesleying fix, it only takes a couple seconds to add a comment, thanks to the speed and reliability of Google Chrome. Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier. Chrome is designed to be fast in every possible way: It’s quick to start up from your desktop, loads web pages in a snap, and runs complex web applications fast. Chrome’s browser window is streamlined, clean, and simple. Chrome also includes features that are designed for efficiency and ease of use. Chrome has many useful features built in, including extensions, translation in the browser, themes, and more! Google sponsors me to comment on Wesleying (not really, but it would be great if they did [at the very least, they could throw a CR-48 my way]). But a big reason is that anyone can make bad attempts at pithy quips on the ACB. Who else tries to make snarky comments on Wesleying? (A-Batte doesn’t count.)
How would you characterize your commenting style?
Very snarky and witty, but always informed and erudite, occasionally crossing the line into dickishness when a post or commenter calls for it (also, how could I use the name Ayn Rand, not be a dick on occasion, and still sleep at night?).
Is your commenting persona as an extension of your “in real life” personality? Or is it a different beast entirely?
My commenting persona is sort of an extension of my real life personality, but exaggerated and made over the top for effect.
Why Ayn Rand?
I use a name when commenting so people know it’s always me. I decided on Ayn Rand for a few reasons. One is that ironic appropriation is a Wesleyan tradition (witness the athletic teams rallying to the call of Tech). Using the name Ayn Rand is also a joke at the expense lefty students and faculty, who they see as someone with ideas contradictory to their own. My comments critique everything, similar to how Ayn Rand had very strong viewpoints. Also, I’m more conservative (more of a Libertarian, really) than most people on campus, so using the handle is a humorous exaggeration of my political beliefs.
Do your friends know that you comment as Ayn Rand? Would they be surprised to find out?
No one besides myself knows that I comment as Ayn Rand. Some people I know would be surprised, but others would just nod, seeing it as something I would do.
Everyone I know seems to pronounce “Ayn” differently. How do you pronounce it?
It rhymes with “mine.”
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Atlas Shrugged film?
Based on how it came together and the people making it, it looks like a last ditch effort to hold onto the rights (like the B-Movie version of Fantastic Four made in the ‘90s), not a serious production. I’ve only read ¼ of Atlas Shrugged, but I’ll get around to reading it soon.
As a current student, have you ever considering joining this blog in an official capacity?
What are the best courses at Wesleyan?
I guess you mean best classes I’ve taken. I can’t answer this without giving away too many clues to my identity.
How do you feel about the “state of Wesleying”?
The state of Wesleying is very good at the moment. It posts events on time and has a good mix of content. As someone who constantly checks Wesleying, the lack of 503 errors recently has been impressive (have you changed the back end, or are you hemorrhaging readers?). [Editors’ note: We upgraded our hosting. Thanks for noticing.] However, banner choices as of late have been questionable. More history posts, more A-Batte comedy.
How can Wesleying (or student blogs in general) be improved?
Posters should take five minutes between coming up with an idea and setting to work on a post to decide whether it’s a good idea and whether or not to post things. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but trashing that freshman girl last semester was cruel and totally uncalled for. Also, posters should think about whether their idea of Komedy (yes, with a capital K) is too mean, like A-Batte’s Latin@ (is that supposed to be pronounced Latin-At?) post (although the shitstorm it inspired was entertaining). Admins should also consider whether a joke of a banner is a good idea (what were you thinking with that flashing banner?). In general, thinking before acting would greatly improve anything.
Do you read any other online Wes media? Other college blogs? Blogs in general?
I follow Tenured Radical and some alumni websites. I check the Argus’s website when I miss the print version, but I never check the Blargus. Seriously, Fuck the Blargus (you know, that was their marketing slogan last year, and look where that got them).
Top three political figures to take to a desert island and beat with a stick?
That would take way too much effort to pull off. Also, when you beat other people with sticks, aren’t you really beating yourself?
What’s one thing you’d like to say to Michael Roth?
I’m split between telling him to stop trying to make Wesleyan normal and telling him to fix the Internet. With the connection speeds here, it’s sometimes faster to send messages with Ankylosaurus.
With what pronouns should we refer to you?
With all due deference to the PC climate here, the most mangled usage of gender neutral pronouns possible.
When this interview is posted on Wesleying, what will your comment be?
I’m saving my comment until it is posted.
One last thing you’d like to say to Wesleying readers?
Nothing. A final statement would mean I’m out of snark.