My spam filter has been receiving a lot of hits lately. Whenever I check it, I’ve got a few comments left in it. So far, they’re all bots (as far as I can tell). The depressing thing is that the comments have gotten nicer.
It used to be that spam bots trolling the Internet were easy to catch. The whole thing would be a copy pasta job from works of literature or walls of text from famous sites. Then it switched to line-by-line copies, where a thought would start and never be finished. Automated programs grabbed all of it and just slung it out there to generate search priority for search engines.
Now, though, I’m seeing thoughtful but vague commentary that at least does an awesome job of being polite. The depressing part comes in when I realize that the spam bots are nicer than most Internet people I’ve met. How is it that automated text has become more pleasant to deal with than actual interaction?
My hope is that I have some sort of weird confirmation bias, or that I’m frequenting awful places on the Internet. Yeah, it’s strange to write that out, but it’s true. At the very least, I feel like I ought to do my part to tip the scales of niceness back over to humanity. If I don’t, then I feel like all of those awful robot movies where the robots kill humanity for being jerks will actually come true. Think about it: today spam bots are nice, tomorrow actual bots might be nice. And here we are filtering them and corralling them away from polite society.
I realize I don’t tell people often enough why they’re interesting or awesome to know. There have been perfect strangers I’ve met in strange circumstances that have left a positive impact on me. Overall, the good apples definitely have outnumbered the bad ones. That’s something important to remember. The odds are stacked in favor of meeting decent, interesting people.
So even if you’re having a tough day, there’s always a new opportunity to meet someone that might help ease that burden. Sure, being polite and kind isn’t the cure for cancer or some magical spell that makes problems disappear, but being on the receiving end can help make the burden suck less. If a random Internet robot can do it, so can I.