Getting to know an evil online genius
David Thorne‘s hilarious e-mail correspondences have been forwarded, printed, and passed on by millions. THE INTERNET IS A PLAYGROUND: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius (Tarcher/ Penguin paperback, April 28) collects numerous correspondences and essays from Thorne’s wildly popular site, 27bslash6, and several that are unavailable elsewhere. From the wildly popular “Missing Missy,” in which Thorne helped/tormented a secretary who asked him to make a missing poster for her cat Missy, to the recent sensation, “It is obviously that your a foggot”, THE INTERNET IS A PLAYGROUND is a wicked read.
But who is behind all the wickedness? We tried to discover in our Q&A with David Thorne….
What motivated you to start posting your e-mail correspondences and other musings online? A need for a distraction from working in the design industry. While many would assume that the design industry allows an outlet for creativity, sitting in an office the size of a wardrobe making poor products look appealing to trick people into buying them is quite the opposite. Constantly finding myself in different cities but identical hotel rooms, while travelling for client meetings, I started writing stupid stories, mainly to annoy people, on social networking sites. Joining knitting forums, under the guise of a seventy eight year old woman with fourteen grandchildren, making friends and exchanging handy tips before declaring “I can hear someone breaking in downstairs” then logging off forever (giving them something more interesting to discuss than fractional stitches and menopause) is far more entertaining than preparing powerpoint presentations. Facebook, Digg, Reddit and the likes were regular haunts. As I was continually banned from these places, the 27b/6 website was created as a site that could not be touched by moderators.
How did your site, www.27bslash6.com, become so hugely popular? Everybody that visits the site gets a free puppy. Originally created a couple of years ago to simply make friends laugh, and occasionally annoy them, the site in those days took only a few hundred hits per week. After posting an article concerning paying for an outstanding chiropractors bill with a bad drawing of a spider, the website effectively went viral overnight thanks to other people’s need for distractions; when you are selling your soul nine to five in an office for less than a teacher’s salary and you receive an email that amuses you, there is the tendency to welcome the distraction and want to share with friends and co-workers. As such, I credit the popularity of the site to people’s propensity to waste time at work. Which is the employers’ fault really for failing to provide an entertaining and richly fulfilling work environment, so I should probably credit them instead. I spend most of my working day watching youtube videos of cats. Have you seen the one where the two cats play paddy-cake? I could watch that a thousand times.
Is it hard work being an “Evil Online Genius,” as we’ve dubbed you? No, it is not hard work. If it was hard work I wouldn’t do it as I am extremely lazy. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered blinking and once went several days without breathing. I do try to answer all emails though and, surprisingly, most are nice. I have met a few good friends through the process. As a general rule I never initiate correspondence, just respond stupidly. It would be easy to simply send out hundreds of emails with the hope of initiating a humorous chain but this would hardly be unique and there are others who do this. Emails from individuals or businesses that are obliged to respond are usually the most entertaining to me. Most importantly, there is no way to know if the correspondence will continue, and even if it does, whether it will be well received by later readers, so you have to enjoy writing and do so to entertain yourself foremost. If others enjoy the result afterwards, then that is a bonus.
It is not all fun and games though, I do get the odd threat and have answered the door to police on more than one occasion. Most recently, after posting a fake internal memo from McDonald’s outlining the implementation of short-changing customers as a procedure, I was arrested, questioned and had my laptop taken for evidence under e-crime legislation.
Would you consider yourself a writer, humorist, smart-ass or a very successful troll? A kind of… mega troll, if you will? I was labeled “an idiot with an occasional vague point” once which I quite liked. The term troll is thrown around a lot but is technically someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response. Which I will admit to, but like to think my efforts are without ill intent and constructed to amuse rather than disrupt. Providing content that encourages argument, discussion and factions based around humour, rather than simply offending, has always been my goal.
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