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Feedback from other bloggers is the lifeblood of many an online outpouring. I know I look forward to these responses, and I try to give back my share of them to other bloggers.

But there is a certain kind of feedback that raises one’s hopes, only to dash them. Here is one example, of the type you may be familiar with:

You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I have read through a single thing like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this subject. Really… thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

It’s been a while since I’ve visited flim-flam spam flummery on this blog. As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I occasionally check through spam comments to see if any genuine remarks have been hoovered up.

Mostly they haven’t.

In amongst the invitations to view porn or buy porn products, to click on suspicious sites, boggle at essay-length missives in Russian and wade through cut-and-paste non-sequiturs in English there are, nevertheless, a few well-written halfway-decent anonymised compliments, as above.

Of course, I don’t believe a word they express, but they are mildly entertaining. Take this second example:

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote a very long comment but
after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.

Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just
wanted to say fantastic blog!

Both the examples quoted almost seem genuine, but the tone of them is spoiled by their generic blandness and lack of specificity. “Fantastic blog”? How, in what way, is it fantastic? The compliment is too generalised, which means it’s not targeted. “I don’t believe I have read through a single thing like that before”? I don’t believe you’re really responding to my post, are you? In fact have you actually read it, let alone ‘a single thing’ like it?

Still, lots of good trigger words in that first complimentary message: interesting, unique, a bit of originality. If only one could be sure that this interesting, unique and original comment hadn’t been shared in almost identical wording with hundreds or thousands of other bloggers.

A nuisance, yes, but not nearly as annoying as the blandishments given out by corporate entities, government departments and a certain breed of politician when things have gone wrong. And they have been going very wrong in recent times.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The [insert organisation here] deeply / truly regrets the inconvenience / distress / upset experienced by [insert individual or group here].

Lessons have been learned.

Lessons learned? Like hell they are—it’s business as before.

Now, these pat phrases are what I’d call gratuitous—they’re freely given but in no way are they worth the air that has been expended issuing them, the paper they’ve been printed on or the online cloud they’ve been sent to. I tell anyone who’s paying attention that for nothing.

But is anyone listening?

Here’s an example of a politician who is not only not listening but doesn’t care who knows he’s not listening, with this gratuitously insulting tweet:

An actual tweet from an actual politician

A plague on him and all those other arrogant excuses for human beings.

The first in an occasional series of rants by Yours Truly

40 thoughts on “Gratuitous

    1. I’d rather not beat the quality of your admirer’s comment, though somebody in the Grammar Police ought to browbeat him (her? I doubt it) for such terminological infelicities.

      They write their sentence as if they consulted the random ordering of those fridge magnets designed to help you write poems or in the style of some long dead writer: “Put in writing like this additionally”? Pah!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Ha! Yes, I get a few of these too. As you say, so bland and non specific, they stand out like a sore thumb. That Twitter exchange is depressing – Mr Fysh descending to school yard level. Love your ranting, Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marcus Fysh—Pooterish by name and Pooterish by nature. Deserving of a good metaphorical slap round the chops by his nanny, I suspect.

      Sorry you’re subjected to similar outpourings, Lynn, you deserve better! Can you not take sweet revenge on such spammers with a suitably gory bit of flash fiction? We’d all love that!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fysh can’t be as awful as Christopher Chope – the Tory MP’s latest wheeze – after voting against the anti upskirting bill – was to object to a bill against FGM in young girls. What kind of animal does that?

        Maybe I should send some nasty flash to Chope, though he’d only use it as an example of the depths liberals will sink to

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have no printable words to say how I feel about MPs like Fysh and Chope, except to say that at the very least I hope they lose their seats at the next election and that they have no lucrative jobs to fall back on as a result of their despicable shenanigans. Any online recrimations addressed to them will merely be water off a duck’s back. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucky you, Johanna, I seem to draw them like wasps to honey! Actually, it’s just a handful of posts (perhaps three or four, and, oddly, one or two jpg images) that they target—which, luckily, gives the game away.

      Extraordinary though that as much as 100-180 spam comments may arrive within a week or few days of me clearing them (though I do know that Akismet periodically dumps the lot).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I like to review my spam periodically – every now and again there are a few that (while clearly spam) leave me wondering about why they ended up on my blog and who they’re really targeted at. For a few months last year, I got lots of spam about hydroponics, which was… very random. But it is always disappointing to find the ones that start out almost sounding like they’re real, only to realise it’s vacant compliments from someone with a xhdfnndii@yahoo email address called dakota auto insurance (or suchlike; definitely a car insurance phase in my spam at the moment tho).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good points, all of them! Don’t you, like me, despair at all this wasted energy? Instead of positive, thoughtful words we’re subjected to a barrage of largely illiterate missives encouraging us to buy stuff we don’t want or need, or to open ourselves up to conduits that drain our wealth and well-being, all to the profit of greedy parasites.

      Hydroponics, hmmm, something we’re all lacking in our poor unfulfilled lives…


      1. I do despair. But then, I feel much the same way about websites that send out daily newsletters to try and drive product sales. I’ve worked in the ad industry, and the bit that really makes me sad is how few people have to click on this rubbish for it to be considered ‘successful’ and worth doing -.-

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Not you, of course! I found that barrenness in my later years of teaching when for management it was all about trends and statistics and league tables and results rather than ideas and common humanity.


  3. I have such a strong spam blocker nothing seems to get through it – but sometimes it is amusing to look at what others are receiving. What a weird phenomenon, this massive generation of verbiage for totally false and insincere purposes. The comparison to political Tweeting is apt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Akismet does a good job on WordPress, doesn’t it—just a shame that certain ‘false and insincere’ politicians don’t also periodically consign to the spam bin, to be automatically deleted after a set space of time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve got to laugh or else you’d cry with the pointlessness of it all, I think. Hard not to revert to ‘Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells’ mode and muse Why don’t they get a proper job? 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hah! I wonder if there would be opening in the market for offering online courses in how to compose the perfect spam, grammatically correct with the perfect inducements (including dark chocolate) and couched in the most literate and intellectually satisfying forms?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know them well, Chris. I can add one type more: ”What a stroke of luck! I was talking about exactly this topic with (can’t remember who) , but now you really enlighted me on this point and bla, bla, bla“. Then I checked the title of the post and it was ”The Mythical Method“ 😂😂, which I guess it to be a common topic of conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now I know why all my comments on that post went straight to spam, Stefy—I’m always discussing the mythical method with whoever will listen but my comments never seem to get posted! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hee hee! I am actually one of those who gets angry when her long comment gets deleted and doesn’t want to type it again, but I do try to write a short version of it, at least. 🙂 Now I’m tempted to check out my own spam…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s often good when those long comments disappear into the ether—it gives me the chance to think of better shorter ways to say the same thing or even question the wisdom of saying something in the first place… 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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