Inside the Mind of an Old Man on Overheard at Kenyon


You fear the name. You’ve seen the posts. But do any of us know the real John Ryerson, Overheard at Kenyon connoisseur? In this article, The Thrill delves into the mind of one of the most baffling men that Kenyon has ever seen. What does the psyche of a man with unlimited power and limited social awareness look like? 

I originally wanted to interview John, mostly out of a genuine curiosity about what he was like in person, and also because I felt bad that some old dude was getting cyberbullied by Kenyon students. Am I contributing to the problem? Maybe. But we can’t deny that this is necessary work—truly one of the most pressing issues of our time. I slid into his Facebook DMs, and even sent the guy a friend request, but my efforts were to no avail. John “Conversation Starter” Ryerson never replied. He curved me harder than young women curve creepy old men online who ask for marriage and nudes (in that order). Oh, how the turntables. 

 I’m not gonna lie, John’s rejection stung. I tried to put myself in his shoes (which, no doubt, are white grandpa Nikes—you know the ones). I spent countless hours scrolling through Overheard and analyzing John’s content. What we do know is that he thinks that the point of posting in Overheard at Kenyon is to “non-judgmentally report what we [overhear] at Kenyon.” Is he wrong? Not entirely. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I turned into a film noir detective for an hour and here’s what I found out:

  1. He enjoys posting random, inconsequential snippets of conversations that have little to no comedic value. Whether it be about the lives of young mothers buying Huggies, the lasting social bonds created at Kenyon, or his hot takes on Gambier’s weather, from what I understand, John posts things he overhears… just, like… in general? It’s like if I heard someone at the table next to me in Peirce say, “Hey, buddy ol’ pal, would ya pass me a napkin?” and then I posted about it on a public forum for 3.1k individuals to see just because I could. 
  2. He creates a mutually beneficial experience for students and alumnae alike. Not only have his eyes been opened to the vast world of Gen Z lingo, such as the classic “sad boi,” but we youngins have also been touched by John’s wealth of knowledge and ancient wisdom. With quotes like, “I don’t care about the grade. I just want to learn about the subject,” John reminds us all what the liberal arts experience is truly about.
  3. His methods are unknown. Has he wiretapped the entire campus? Is he constantly hiding in the bushes on campus, dressed in all black? Has anyone ever seen this man? How in the hell is he able to hear so many goddamn things? Is he the infamous Caples ghost? I’ve never seen the two of them in the same room. I can only imagine him coming home after a long day of Overhearing shit, sitting down in his desk chair, turning on his Windows Desktop, chuckling at a few minion memes, and then cracking his knuckles loudly and typing like the wind. With ominous posts such as, “I don’t think it’s going to happen. But you will be the first to know,” we can’t rule out the possibility that John isn’t some sort of hitman for the CIA.
  4. He has his moment(s). Exhibit A: when he responded to the quote: “I don’t like children. They look like they’re expensive,” with, “They are. And it never ends.” In my personal opinion, this shining moment proves that John has the potential to be one of The Greats. Sadly, this piece of comedy gold only received one meager sad react, but there’s hope for him yet. 

Of course, Overheard at Kenyon would be nothing without the sassy replies to John’s posts by students and community members alike, urging him to understand that the true purpose of this page is to post “amusing or scandalous” content, which unfortunately is the exact opposite of what John does. Whether he’s applauded or #roasted, John chooses not to give a single shit and for that, I admire him. Every day this man continues to bless us with his relentless optimism and a rare childlike innocence. Maybe I’m alone in this, but John inspires me. All I can say is: long live the King. 


5 responses

  1. This article is an ageist, condescending attempt to create humor at the expense of a member of the Gambier community. As an alumni, I’ve followed the way this individual has been treated on social media and was surprised… now a college-run paper is posting an article about him, and using an actual photo of his face, I assume without his permission? I am seriously confused. This is punching down at its worst. Why was this published?

    • As a more recent alum who got to know John personally during my time at Kenyon I do find this to be in severe bad form. I guess the thrill has gotten worse over the years, but I never thought that someone would go that low.

  2. Sad to see this is what passes for humor – mocking another person.who has done nothing to hurt you. Were you to actually take the time to have a thoughtful conversation with this person you might discover that something worth celebrating. I know we all live in the land of the cheap shot now but what kind of community are we left living in? Do better.

  3. lol 1) it’s a public facebook group and 2) the article isn’t even mean. john is our overheard king and these comments are ageist, condescending attempts to create humor at the expense of a member of the thrill community. do better.

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