From the Editor


That’s right, I’m bringing back the ‘f’ in What the ?!?!. Deal with it.

Substitute whatever ‘f’ word you would like. What the flip? What the Fayetteville? What the falafel? Go G-rated with your imagination or triple X — the word is not important. It’s the sentiment that counts.

WTF is a cry of confusion and surprise, something one might utter after taking a two-year hiatus from Northwest Arkansas and returning to find the streets of the historic district and Dickson lined with parking meters. An anecdote straight from the life of yours truly, Blair Jackson, new editor of The Free Weekly.

I’ve had my fair share of WTF moments — when Bush won the 2004 election; when Britney Spears orchestrated her first comeback; when a former boss told me that my inability to wear high heels disqualified me from my position; when a piece of the Deepwater Horizon washed up on the beach by my house in Destin.

The biggest WTF of my life was graduating from college into a recession. It took months to find my first post-graduate job as a shop girl in a furniture store in 2009. After two years of living in Northwest Florida, working as a retail manager, bartender and waitress, I announced to my friends that I was moving back home.

“WTF is in Arkansas?” They asked.

“Everything important to me,” was my answer, and to me, the cultural center of Arkansas is Fayetteville. I knew if there was a place where I could begin a career as a professional writer, cultivate a strong voice and be part of a progressive community, Fayetteville was the place.

It was little more than a month ago that I packed up, taking only what I could fit in my hatchback, and hit the road. After submitting dozens of applications and landing no interviews, a familiar WTF situation cropped up: The job market was flooded with applicants, and I was unemployed.

It’s a common WTF situation. In May, The New York Times released an article following a study of college alumni from 2009. Twenty-two percent were unemployed in 2011, and the same percentage were working in jobs that did not require a college degree; leaving little more than half of college graduates actually working in the positions they expected.

Take heed, U of A students. All 23,000 of you. In a few years you may find yourself filling out an application at Red Lobster with only one thought, “WTF?”

Muttered in a gasp of surprise or confusion, texted in a quick three keys, roared at the driver who doesn’t understand the one-way streets of the square — WTF is here to stay. When politicians, lovers and circumstances disappoint us, we turn to our friends and laugh, with a little sadness, and ask, “WTF?”

We can rely on WTF to capture the offenses of the world, great and small; and the greatest part of WTF is not the ‘f’ but the ‘w.’

The “WHAT?” that demands explanation.

As my first editorial decision, I would like to turn WTF over to you, the readers. I want to know when you have a WTF moment, brief or extended — let your WTF be heard! I will keep WTF afloat until my inbox overflows with your complaints, anecdotes and philosophical and political musings.  Email me at or tag a tweet @freekly.

Categories: Commentary