The Internet is a brutal place. It is a digital version of the Hobbesian state of nature, lawless and nasty. A jungle of predators fighting tooth and claw over pageviews and “likes.” Descend into the comment sections of even the most mild, insular blogs and websites and you’ll witness mankind at its worst. Trolling, flame wars, death threats, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and every other base instinct of our species practiced at alarming levels.
Spend a week in the most squalid, desperate refugee camp and you’ll probably come away impressed by the resiliance and compassion of people, by the way even the poorest of us will so often go out of their way to help their fellow man. But then spend five minutes reading the comments posted to the latest Justin Bieber YouTube video and you’ll think start to think maybe Skynet has a point.
The weird exception to this is Spam. I don’t mean the Spam that ends up in your junk mail folder, the ads shilling Viagra and hair growth pills. No, I mean the weird bot-generated spam that tries to worm its way onto blogs.
My blog is not high traffic. Virtually all of my readers come from Facebook and Google searches for “monster testicles” (thanks to this post). And yet every day I end up with two bot-generated Spam comments or so. What’s weird about the Spam comments are that they tend to be very kind. Currently sitting in my Spam filter are these two:
just discovered you on google. Great article, I was just thinking around something similar. Might start writing a blog myself! Thanks a lot
What did you use to design your blog? It’s really awesome can you send me an email and let me know?
They’re all like that. Links to link-farm websites coated in compliments. Obviously, they are not at all genuine. They were in fact generated by computer programs and wander the web like fleas looking for a dog to bite. They are simply meant to herd the simple over to their websites to increase page views to increase… well, I don’t really know. Black market Cialis sales, probably.
Still, after a rough day in the digital trenches, sometimes I like to come here and open up my Spam folder and bask in the complimentary glow. “Thanks, dude,” I think, “it’s really heartening to know that I’ve inspired you to start writing a blog.” Or, “Sure, guy, I’ll send an email telling you how I designed my awesome blog.”
Then I remember that those sweet words, the only nice comments I’ve read on the Internet all day, weren’t written by a person at all, but by a computer. By a machine. And I start to think that maybe Skynet has a point, after all…