CNN 2007 Spelling Bee Champ Interview
January 9, 2012 by staff
The short three-and-a-half minute video became an instant internet hit, with people’s reactions varying from laughter to concern. The video depicts an image of Evan as a fairly conceded, socially awkward teenager who completely lacks common sense, and if anything, is merely a walking dictionary who no one could stand the company of. Frankly, after watching the video, I myself said I would rather spend the rest of my life with Wilson (the volleyball from Cast Away) than in the company of this poor boy. But I am ashamed for allowing myself to become victim of the sinful human tendency of judging before knowing, merely by brief exposure.
Soon after I saw the video I began to search Evan O’Dorney on google, trying to find out more about this particularly different boy. I thought at first that he may be autistic, which is incredibly sad and no laughing matter at all, and I searched for that as well. I was not surprised to see that many viewers were also searching for the same thing, and commenting on the possibility of Evan having some neurological problem. Some people commented on the fact that he is home-schooled, and that his social awkwardness can be attributed to that fact alone. Others speculated Autism, or Asperger’s Disorder, a high functioning form of autism that would cause him to be able to memorize things like complex words or a large array of numbers. Other people made some distasteful comments about how he is just a self-absorbed narcissist, who also happens to be socially awkward. I then ran into this article about him:
After reading that article my jaw dropped. I started to feel horrible, because of how quick I was to judge someone, a child, from one minuscule and pointless interview. Plus, how can anyone truly judge him when not many of us don’t even know his complexities, and cannot interpret or understand the various facets of his brain (which controls his behavior). Are we really so perfect that we can talk? I asked myself that. Am I really so perfect that I can say that someone who lacks social skills is not a good person? How are social skills more important than any other skills? And am I so completely socially attuned?
What’s worse is, what if the kid has a neurological problem? What if he doesn’t consciously act this way, but merely cannot act any other way? He’s not a nerd. He didn’t come off like that to me. He came off as an inconvenience, a horrible person, who was too self-absorbed to have common sense. But really, I’m likely wrong. In fact, he’s not self-absorbed at all. He’s absorbed into other things. Things I enjoy thinking of myself, but unfortunately for me, things which in order for me to understand I would have to have the same brain as this spelling bee champ, and consequently his awkwardness. I feel sorry for myself that I made fun of him or judged him the way I did, and I hope that if anyone reads this and happens to have also judged him like I did, that this someone considers this note as a different perspective on the “matter of Evan O’Dorney”, and if nothing else, doesn’t judge me for choosing to express myself with this note.
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