So Help Me Bwog
Written by Maud Rozee
In a belated celebration of Bwog’s 10th birthday, we present to you the (honest) experiences of former Editors-In-Chief. Next up is Maud Rozee, who served as co-Editor and Internal Editor during 2014; she holds nothing back.
First, let me acknowledge that I was likely the worst Bwog Editor-in-Chief of all time. I co-reigned for, what, four inglorious months before I co-resigned in ignominy? No small part of me wishes I could erase it from history. Pull an Akhenaten and chip my name and face off the stone tablets in the Temple of Bwog. But that’s probably not possible, and probably not fair. It wasn’t all bad, at least not at first.
I read every single comment on Bwog in the spring of 2012. I refreshed the Obamanard article for hours. I loved how hilarious, offensive, and touching Bwog’s anonymous commenters could be. That was in my first year, before I had joined Bwog. It was kind of a rough year, and I spent too much time lying in bed on the eighth floor of Sulz alternating between checking Bwog comments and bored@butler. By April, I was set to transfer to University of British Columbia, the college in my hometown. Instead, I decided to stick it out. I promised myself I would get more involved in campus life and find some reasons to get out of my room.
Next semester, I joined Bwog as a daily editor. I loved it. There was no way I could feel bored or lonely when I was getting anonymous tips and non-stop gossip from Bwog’s listserv. As the semesters went on, I wrote more and more. I loved writing breaking news articles. I loved reading the comments. The piece I’m proudest of is the article about the student who faced disciplinary action after he threw a paint party in his room in Carman. His friends contacted Bwog because they were worried about him and wanted to spread his story, and I was able to help them.
A few semesters later, my class of Bwoggers had risen to the most senior levels of Bwog. I told my friend Sarah Faith Thompson that she should run for Editor-in-Chief, and she did. I took the position of “Internal Editor”, which basically meant I was one more person who felt responsible for making Bwog perfect. And I did feel responsible. I cared about Bwog a lot. I wanted its content to be great and its staff to be happy.
At the end of her first semester, Sarah Faith asked me to be co-Editor, to take some of the pressure off her. I agreed to do it, mostly because I thought it was best for Bwog for Sarah Faith to stay Editor.
I’m not sure how Mason is finding it, but for me, being Editor of Bwog was brutal. It was non-stop emails, non-stop problems. When things were going badly, it seemed like non-stop criticism from anonymous commenters, staff members, and even friends. Nobody ever thanks you. Nobody ever congratulates you. Obviously, nobody ever pays you.
On the other hand, it was also thrilling. The tips, the gossip. Getting to know the staff, being able to invite them to parties. Conspiring about the redesign. Talking jealously about Spec and the Lion. Posting breaking news gave me the same feeling as getting in an argument in the comments of a Facebook post. That rush of urgency, euphoria, excitement, and unease.
The day I resigned was rough. I remember I had an assignment for Jae Lee’s Advanced Programming class due the next day, and I was at some Barnard computer science homework help session on the fourth floor of Barnard Hall. My sister called because I had sent her some distraught texts about the latest Bwog drama. I stepped out to talk to her and I started crying and I’m pretty sure everyone on the fourth floor could hear me because when I got back everyone was offering to do my homework for me. I couldn’t get much work done, though, because a few minutes later I had to leave to go to the latest emergency Bwog meeting. That’s when I decided I would resign. There was no way I could handle all this Bwog stuff and get my homework done.
That emotionally exhausting meeting ended around 11 pm, and I walked all the way back to Cathedral Gardens. There, I realized I had lost my laptop charger, which of course I needed to get my AP homework done. I freaked out and ran back to Barnard Hall, where, thank God, my laptop charger was waiting in the computer science help room. It was now after midnight. I grabbed my laptop charger and sat on the steps in front of Barnard Hall and started stress-weeping. Three separate first-years came up to me and tried to comfort me. It was a low point.
I learned a lot from my time as co-Editor. I learned that you can care about something like Bwog a lot, and that doesn’t mean that you will do a good job running it, or that it cares about you at all. But the most important lesson was that you have to forgive people when they make mistakes. You have to forgive yourself, too. I think many people at Columbia struggle with that. We come from high pressure high schools, expecting that every mistake should be heavily punished. We demand perfection from ourselves and others, and when people fail to live up to that standard it’s easy and enjoyable for us to ridicule them. I think if I hadn’t felt that the stakes were so high in each sticky Bwog situation, I would’ve communicated better and made better decisions.
Bwog, of course, has been a ringleader of not forgiving people. I regret my part in situations where Bwog showed a lack of empathy. I think things have changed for the better now, probably in part because the talented people who now run Bwog witnessed how things went down when I was co-in charge. But I don’t read Bwog too much these days (although when I do, I enjoy it). It’s still the site I connect to when I’m on a wifi network for the first time and need to bring up the page where you accept the terms and conditions. That’s an old habit.
Anyway, there’s more to tell but I’m done for now. Ask me again on Bwog’s 50th anniversary. I’ll probably be happy to talk about it.
M(a)udd Stands Eternal via Maud Rozee
Tags: eic wisdom, EIC wisdom: realer than senior wisdoms, happy birthday bwog, maud, real institutional memory here, stress-weeping while being comforted by first-years is our aesthetic, the more things change the more things stay the same, weird to think about all the past bwoggers we don't even know about