What Do You Mean You Don't Like Us?

Talk of the Walk - Summer 2011

Back in May I got an email from our art director, Erin Mayes. She sent me a link to a Facebook page, and her message read: “Ha! … We shouldn’t let it affect our collective self-esteem.” The Facebook page in question was called “Immediately Throwing Away Every Copy of Denison Magazine Without Reading It.” It had photos of people tossing out recent issues. The 100th anniversary issue, in which we ran a feature story on the 100 Things We Love About Denison, was pictured lying in a heap of paper at the bottom of a plastic garbage can. The issue with the cow on the front cover was held poised over another. I tried not to be bitter. I giggled a little unconvincing giggle when I told the staff about it. I overcompensated. “Isn’t it hilarious?” I asked, laughing a little too hard. “I mean, soooooo funny. Don’t you think it’s sooooo funny?”

Now, I’m not naïve. I know people don’t spend their days drooling over Denison Magazine. In fact, we operate as if we don’t have any loyal readers, and it’s our job to get folks to open the magazine when it comes in the mail. That’s why we work so hard to give you what, we hope, is engaging and balanced content about the college, its students and graduates, and the world we’re all living in. That cow cover? We photographed it twice because the first cow we used was too much of a diva to tolerate the photographer, so we had to upgrade to a professional show steer. (Now, he knew how to model.) And do you have any idea how many times we made those poor swimmers and divers descend to the bottom of Gregory Pool for the perfect back cover shot? The point is, it takes a lot of work to get someone to spend time with Denison Magazine, even if just for a minute or two, and here was a group of graduates who didn’t even open it. They just tossed it away without so much as a glance at that one sentence in that one caption in that one feature that we rewrote 467 times until we got it just right.

To be fair, only 37 people “like” that Facebook page. (One of those folks is our intern, Olivia Combe. She swears it’s “research.”) That’s a mighty small percentage of our 40,000 readers, and that thought made me feel a little better. And, fine, some of the comments were funny. Truly. “Who got the new one, with the red cover,” one read, “and why haven’t you thrown it away yet?” Another said, “Oh, look, someone I didn’t know who graduated in 1992 is having another kid.” And another: “Did you know that someone from the Class of ’53 did something that nobody gives a shit about?” One clever Facebooker offered a few ways to deal with the magazine when it arrives, which included shredding it and weaving it into a blanket for the homeless.

You should probably know this about me: I’m not one of those people who couldn’t care less what you think of her. I need validation. I need you to like me. And if you don’t, I need to know why. You should probably know this, too: I’ll do just about anything to get someone to peel back the cover of Denison Magazine and look inside. So, on a quest to get to the bottom of all of this, I sent the Facebook page’s creator, Tug Haines ’01, a message asking if he’d be willing to talk it out. “I will gladly do an interview,” he wrote back, “and will not throw away that issue … immediately.” See? I told myself, progress.

After a short conversation with Tug, I learned that he hasn’t ever, once—he swears—opened an issue of the magazine. He told me that if he really wanted to know what his classmates were up to, he’d simply find them on Facebook. So, I cut my losses. I promised him that I wanted to deliver just one more magazine to his mailbox, mainly because he’d be in it, but after this issue, he’ll never get another. He was grateful.

But the sneaky side of me has to admit that it feels good to know that Tug finally did open an issue—because Tug, I know you’re reading this.

Published July 2011