When people unsubscribe from This is True, they have the opportunity to leave comments. Most don’t, and oddly some think they “have to” (I mean really: “No comment.”?) And of course some use it as an opportunity to protest — like when I tell the truth that they don’t want to hear.
And then there are the weird ones.
For sure, the two most-entered comments are that they have upgraded to Premium and don’t need the free one anymore, followed way-too-closely by that they’re just too busy to read four hundred-word stories, which I think is an awfully sad state of affairs.
I have not altered the following comments in any way — what’s in quotes is exactly what they wrote. I use their first name if I have it, and something from their headers if not.
Now and then I get a one-word whine: “Boring.” Yes, I know they’re boring, which is why I’m trying to provide some illumination to their lives. Ah well.
Mohammed in Malaysia was apparently using True for his education. When he felt he had graduated, he unsubscribed with the comment, “right now, I am professional in english, i don’t need to learn more what I have”. If he thought the purpose of This is True is English lessons, his English may not be as good as he thinks.
Jeepers complained, “Not enough ‘varification’ of ‘facts’…”
It’s true that I don’t travel all over the world each week to interview the people in each story. Rather, as I’ve said for 18 years now, True is simply commentary on the news I find, and the source of each story is clearly identified so that you know where it’s from. If Jeepers cared to “varify” the facts of any story, s/he can go to that source to do so.
Not weird enough for you? How about RT in AOLland: “I just don’t read newsletters that are typed.” Maji is threatened: “I want to stop thinking so much.” Jamie, who works in safety: “does not help in my line of work – very good stories”. Wow: I’d think that understanding what people will do when under the influence of obliviocy would be perfect training for a safety officer!
Chris the Crab (yeah, really!): “I just got really tired of some of your comments. Snark only really works for people who agree with you in the first place, and boy howdy are you a lot more conservative than me.”
I looked up to see what comments I had made that week and replied:
Asking politicians to try common sense. Yeah, pretty darned snarky, isn’t it? Saying the police maybe shouldn’t jump in and “investigate” when nothing went wrong and no one complained — snarky, eh? Saying the government shouldn’t keep data bases of people’s genders in order to enforce a “bathroom law” — I guess that’s pretty snarky. Suggesting that schools might want to teach SKILLS instead of “how to pass a government test” — snarky? Well, that’s the end of the story comments. All four of ’em.
You must define “snarky” the same way you define “conservative” — without consulting a dictionary.
Chris replied, “Yes, this was really a gracious way to deal with someone unsubscribing. Well done.”
Apparently it’s not “gracious” in Chris’s book to reply when someone comments. They’d rather shoot in the dark and not know if anyone actually read what they had to say. Or, at least, one can only reply if they agree with them? Whatever.
Lichen complained: “I liked the original…humor about stupid behavior. Laughs are what we all need more. This is no longer the case with the material which is really social commentary. I can get more than I can handle elsewhere.”
This is True has always been social commentary. Since Issue 1 in 1994. I don’t think Lichen was a subscriber that long ago, so I’m not sure what she is comparing it to, but I’m not trying to be like other publications in any case.
Andries in South Africa: “I do not have reason”.
Well, neither do most of the people in the stories! That’s part of the idea of True — to get people to think more and develop their reasoning abilities!
And then there’s the one that prompted me to make this blog post. It’s from Helen at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (yes, she indeed subscribed from her work address): “Because you titled todays NEWS CLIPS for something you wrote TEN YEARS AGO, which feels like deceptive advertising to me. Hint: ‘News’ is the name for NEW things of interest.”
I can only assume you’re speaking of this section:TEN YEARS AGO IN TRUE: Did This is True's ridicule of a new Microsoft project cause it to be canceled? Maybe (and I certainly hope so!): http://ThisIsTrue.com/d-iloo
Which part of “TEN YEARS AGO” did you take as “todays NEWS CLIPS”?
I pointed out that the subject line never features a story. Ever. It rather points out something else that’s different in the issue that people might otherwise miss.
Helen upped the ante by switching to her U.S. Department of Justice address to reply that I was “insulting” to her — as if her “Hint” was the epitome of southern politeness?
I showed the exchange to a friend. The reply: “With the IRS scandal going on, you’re jousting with someone from the DOJ?! You’ve got some big stones, buddy.”
Eh. Pushing readers a little is part of my job. Is Helen willing to swear in court that bitching at me using government resources — and during working hours — is part of her job? I’d like to see her try it with a straight face.
The Flip Side
Since it only takes one or two cool people to counter an inbox filled with jerks, imagine how lovely it is that most of my mail is much more like what follows, rather than the above.
George’s comments aren’t bizarre, but they’re certainly unusual: “Time constraints. Had to choose between This is true and the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The latter materials are more beneficial. If I had time for both I would continue with both, but that is no longer the case for me. Something you may find interesting: The Bible does not really teach the doctrine of Hellfire. The hell of the bible refers to the common grave of mankind. [Link to JW doctrine deleted.] The idea of hellfire has a non-Christian origin in ancient Babylon. Thanks for all your hard work. I really enjoyed it.”
Roby wrote: “I have terminal ‘C’. Don’t think husband will read columns — even though it would undoubtedly be a good thing for him. Thank you Randy & Co., you have delivered much joy to me over the years.”
Now Roby is someone who had the perspective of knowing she was at the end, and had enough class to not just drop off distribution so her husband wouldn’t have to deal with it after she was gone, but also to send a spectacularly nice note using some of the little time she had left. May she rest in peace.
And I’ll conclude with Kyle in Kansas, for just one example of the “most-common” type of comment: “I feel guilty unsubscribing, but I upgraded to premium about 6 weeks ago. I can’t describe the disappointment I feel when I realize that the email from this is true is just the free edition with articles I’ve already read. For anybody who’s wondering, I’ll say that the upgrade is definitely worth it. I was a free subscriber for about a year. I remember you (Randy) saying it is hard to strip the premium version down to a free version. Now,I thoroughly understand what you meant. The flow between stories is truly remarkable. Compared to the premium edition, the free edition seems like a movies trailer at best.”
No one needs to feel guilty, least of all someone who upgrades like the alliterative Kyle in Kansas. Just as I’ve never had a shortage of stories illustrating the weirdness of the Human Condition, I’ll never tire of the great comments I get from readers, even if I sometimes hurt myself a little rolling my eyes at the obliviots hidden here and there among them.