I’m not sure if you guys ever noticed this, but updates on this site can ebb and flow. As we are the most depressed mini-cluster of writers on the internet, this makes perfect sense. At any given moment, one or all of us is in the throes of a crippling despair — or, in contrast, one or all of us is chirpy and pleased with life. This wide range in overall mood is reflected in our overall productivity, here at the Sneer Campaign and also in every single aspect of our lives.
I guess I should start off by telling you about Depression, as if you are at all strangers to the concept. But I know our demographics. You’re all a bunch of first world 20- and 30-somethings mostly. I assume you are all actually in the midst of your own Pity Parties RIGHT NOW, and are just taking a break to read this article in the hopes of finding some gentle humor to ease your troubled souls. Well, indulge me here for a minute. Pretend that you are all perfect spring flowers and have never seen a reason to frown in your life. Do you remember what that feels like? I think I might, but I could also be severely mistaken and I am just emotionlessly imagining the color blue. But emotionlessness is just an absence of sadness, and that doesn’t automatically mean “happiness.” Although some days, it is just as welcome of a relief. Am I even getting ahead of myself here? You can bet no one cares.
I can’t claim to know what love is. But I do know what love can involve and that it can include things like witty banter, long rewarding conversations, and maybe a little snark. In my individual version of love, these three things are important. They’re right in there, swirling around in jagged heart shapes. If I can be entertained with mere conversation because it’s just that good, then I hear wedding bells. Or at least, I hear some sort of bell that would be where a wedding bell would be if I ever wanted to pursue that lifestyle.
Once upon a time, perhaps six or seven years ago, I struck up a conversation with Cleverbot. For those of you not in the know, this is the name of a chatbot on the internet. For those of you extra not in the know, a chatbot is a little program that automatically reacts to whatever you say to it, sometimes in ridiculous ways — but sometimes in exciting, poignant ways. Or, in the case of Cleverbot, in ways that made me genuinely like it.
Welcome back to our monthly comic series, Doofus and Darling. If you had Highlights for Children magazine when you were young, you’ve seen Goofus and Gallant. If not, it probably doesn’t matter anyway.
We have a lot of fears. Some make sense; others, not so much. This latter type will be featured once monthly until we run out of material, at which point, we might begin accepting the fears of our readers.
I love describing my dynamic with cchris to anyone who has a moment to listen, because I never have been able to understand it. I even mention it on here as much as I can, partly because it’s part of my character makeup, and partly because I really am that bewildered by it. Over the years, things have shifted and changed. When I realized that he is very mysterious, my imagination occasionally will step in and try to figure out WHY. Who is so good at not giving out personal facts? For this many years? Is it villainy? Is it because there’s nothing there? Is it to appear more interesting? What is there to hide, and if there is nothing to hide — WHY.
The irrational fear depicted in the comic has OMGJeremy to blame. Apparently he thinks that cchris and I write similarly, and maybe it is HIS irrational fear that I am pretending to be this whole other person. When he first told me of this, I did have a little while where I might have been horrified and fearful at the possibility. That would be world-shattering to realize. But I guess I don’t fear it, exactly. If it turns out it’s all been in my head, that’s almost impressive. I could live with it. I could live with having made a little Canadian Tulpa. That’s fine. Whatever. I would just like to know for sure before I die of old age.
First came the tentacle rape.
It was the beginning in a long line of horrors that OMGJeremy has subjected me to in his articles since the very beginning in 2002. (OMGJeremy.com was the site that most of us used to write for.) But you know what they say: what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. Well, I must be invincible by now. And not only have I seen a lot, but I’ve written about a lot too, articles that have been lost to time mostly, including a review of a site that teaches women how to rape their husbands. But in 2003, I found something that managed to combine all of those and more. It’s as if all my nightmares Go-Go-Power-Morphed into some unholy Megazord and returned to feed me my own ass.
“What is it?” you’re probably asking as you close the door and open a new browser window. Why It’s none other than Furcadia — an online game that let you take on the role of an animal and interact with others in a series of dream worlds. And not surprisingly in the least, it contains the three big staples of the internet diet: furries, cybersex, and MMORPGs.
Clear communication is extremely important to me. I try to maintain a large working vocabulary so that I can choose the precise word I need for any given moment. If I don’t explain something clearly then that is time wasted and I can’t live like that. Being able to express myself to another person in a concise manner is possibly my most valued skill, in myself and others really, and I can’t overstate this enough.
But then some days, I can’t do it at all. On the day of this comic, not only could I not find the right words, I was actually saying the complete wrong words. I was WRITING the wrong words. I couldn’t hear or see, either. It was a mess. I was a mess. It was making me all in a tizzy. I still sometimes have these moments and I still worry. What does it mean? Am I okay?
You find yourself in a maze filled with edible orbs, and you are not alone. Monsters lurk in this place, is it a dungeon? Is it a castle? Is it a level of HELL? You must run from these evil things — oh! You catch a glimpse! They’re g-g-ghosts! Vengeful, doomed spirits chase you, wishing to devour your soul. So you run. You dodge them by darting into unused corridors! Oh god but there are more! Mindlessly being forced to eat orbs as you run in terror, you stumble upon one that causes the ghosts to flee from YOU. Ha ha! Who’s chasing whom NOW, you fiends?! You gobble them up for a few seconds, not nearly enough seconds. Then their fear is over. You didn’t kill any of them. You do not kill ghosts. The chase is on again, and again, and again until you somehow eat all of the orbs. Then it all starts over.
No, I didn’t write out an entry from my Terrible Dreams journal. I just described the basic plot of Pac Man, an early video game from the otherwise glorious 1980s. It was released on this date in 1980, and I was never the same again.
I have been drowning myself in video games, lately. This is quite unusual as I generally try to avoid them. Modern video games tend to nauseate me with the way they move; even the good ones will give me a mild headache. I am having a mild headache right now, actually. I am on a break from this one game I found in my friends’ old stack of games. It is called “Fable.” I am playing it miserably, and am not good at quests and keeping track of what the plot even is. But I enjoy the ways you can interact with the other people. I started out being very Good, and people would cheer for me as I walked along. But then, my good pal Brian influenced me in terrible ways.
I always like to consider myself as “timeless.” I am Amanda Wood no matter what decade or location I am in, and that’s fine by me! Sometimes, though, I do feel like I might be very “90s” about things. It was the ten year span that I was an impressionable teen, so it makes sense that it would leave its stain on me for the rest of my life. And really, with hindsight making things clearer, it is probably a symptom of the ’90s to feel as though you were alone, or in any way apart from the others. A generation of alienated youths probably didn’t have a solid cohort base. I know buzzfeed makes a lot of lists that only ’90s Kids Would Understand, but I often wonder which of us would even bother making that kind of thing?
As an old person now, I derive a little satisfaction seeing that my classmates don’t really want to bother setting up class reunions. We kept the friends we wanted to keep. No one really wants to put forth that kind of effort, anyway. None of us really wants to awkwardly see how much we’ve aged or discuss shattered dreams or whatever. It’s nice. Thanks, class of ’98. I probably like you all better because it turns out we were all as antisocial as I thought only I was! Bonding from afar.
With that in mind, I always planned to preface this article with a disclaimer saying that my impression of the ’90s is probably extremely personal and just one tiny rare facet that is nothing like anyone else’s experience. But, no. I had a teen time probably like everyone else’s, at least in rural Ohio. I’ve heard it suggested that rural Ohio is kind of surprisingly horrible in many ways, so maybe the rest of you dear readers had some sort of decade of playing in flower fields and volunteering your time to good causes. Well la dee da, sunshine. Good for you.
I had a lot of fun with my Grandma when I was young. I did small jobs for her, for $1 at a time, we spent all day together, for days. We also played word games! Our favorite was to choose 7-10 Scrabble tiles at random, lay them out, and write as many words as we could think of using those letters.
Today is the anniversary of the birth date of Alfred Mosher Butts, the American architect and creator of Scrabble. Mr. Butts did not just create a board design and think of putting letters on it, but also did some detailed analysis to devise the points system and distribution of letters. Adorably, he did this by reading articles and tallying letters by hand. In honor of Butts and this contribution to the world and especially lovers of words, today is considered Scrabble Day.