Posted by Panio Gianopoulos on Friday, June 1, 2012
When designing my website, I originally decided against including a comment feature. As an introvert who is habitually interrupted by extroverts (this includes my three children, all of whom drive conversations as if they were bumper cars), I revere the singular nature of writing. No interjections, no questions, no ironic asides—unless they’re mine—no clarifications, no compromises, nothing but a solitary focused voice. Writing is selfishly, proudly, and gloriously not a dialogue.
During a conversation with an old friend, however, he offered an unsettling insight. While a one-way transmission may appeal to the narcissistic and controlling elements of a writer’s inner life, it didn’t allow for any of the vitality that interactions can bring. As my friend reminded me, I have gone on at length about the necessity of the unpredictable and the accidental to the creative process, and yet here I was summarily dismissing the unknown. Despite his using an eye-rolling phrase like “the creative process,” he had a good point. So a few weeks after publishing the website, I ticked the little toggle box that allowed comments, and awaited the inspiration.
At first, I felt a secret relief that I wouldn’t have to field any nasty comments. I’d visited plenty of sites, such as CNN.com, where the commenters seemed to be furious misanthropes (and not the inspired kind of furious misanthropes, like Thomas Bernhard or Michel Houellebecq, who transform disenchantment and ire into startling and oddly delightful art). As weeks passed and more of nothing happened, however, I shifted into disappointment. It reminded me of summers in high school when I would host midnight shows on the public radio station and, as the night progressed, my co-host and I would make increasingly plaintive requests for listeners to call in. Were they still awake? Was anybody out there? Should we not have played the 17-minute version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida?
One day, around the publication of my third post, it happened: a comment arrived in my in-box. I clicked on it with apprehension. I was pleased to read that it was neither spiteful nor dismissive—just the opposite. It was intelligent and affable and I approved it with a naïve grin. During the week, a few more comments like this followed, and I allowed myself the precarious luxury of pride. My audience had spoken.
Then the crazy comments started. They were linked to obvious spam accounts like 1235813FrostyChimp@gmail.com, were mostly unintelligible, and I didn’t pay them any attention. As the weeks progressed, the spam grew more and more plentiful, until one afternoon I prepared to trash it all. I sifted impatiently through hundreds of comments, separating the real from the fake, but when it came time to delete the fake comments, I hesitated. Yes, it was spam, but it was also curiously entertaining. The transparency of the strategies hobbled by the deranged syntax, the comically ineffective gestures of personalization, the clumsy algorithmic flattery… again and again, the comments possessed those precise qualities of unpredictability and unfamiliarity for which my optimistic friend had readied me.
And so, before consigning them to the digital oblivion from which they arose, I saved my ten favorites. I include them below as representatives of the odd, bewildering, occasionally endearing lunacy that an open call to dialogue may inspire.
1. Very Amusement!
“Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how can we communicate?”
2. You Had Me… Until Brussels
“Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!”
3. Friendly Gibberish
“Howdy, simply expended some time perusing this web page. I do believe I will recurrent your web site in the future after looking at by means of at some of your posts. Undoubtedly”
4. Scary Robo-Gibberish
“con funk shun torrent lasix iv push mid south comic con renal dose bactrim prednisone water weight nexium peripheral neuropathy maker of strattera cons chicharones phillipine islands…”
5. Could Be A Lost Interstitial Chapter From American Psycho
“Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.”
6. Great! No Questions Here
“Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects, people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks”
7. The Modesty Approach
“You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!”
8. Thrice? This Algorithm Watches Game of Thrones
“Thanks a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally splendid opportunity to read in detail from here. It really is very brilliant and also packed with a good time for me personally and my office co-workers to visit your website more than thrice in a week to study the newest tips you have got. And indeed, we’re actually amazed considering the terrific ideas you serve. Selected 1 ideas in this posting are definitely the finest we have all ever had.”
9. Witness My Tears of Joy
“I simply had to appreciate you all over again. I am not sure the things I could possibly have done without those methods shared by you directly on this concern. It previously was the challenging situation for me personally, but taking note of a expert manner you managed the issue made me to weep with fulfillment. I’m happy for your advice as well as hope you know what a great job you are always doing teaching others via a site. More than likely you haven’t encountered any of us.”
10. Um, Just Ask Your Cousin
“I was suggested this website by way of my cousin. I am no longer certain whether this submit is written via him as nobody else recognise such unique approximately my difficulty. You’re incredible! Thank you!”