News and Tribune

October 4, 2012

HARBESON: What the Internet thinks

By DEBBIE HARBESON
Local columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Over the years, people have slapped a wide variety of labels on me. I thought I was used to it, but over the last month, I received two letters that put me into a category so horrendous I’m having trouble sleeping at night. Although I don’t see how this label could be even close to accurate, it’s truly shaken me to my core.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, how bad can it be? She’s probably already been called every name in the book and deserved most of them so what’s one more?”

Well, you won’t say that when you learn what these letters said. We’re talking one scary label, people.

According to one of these letters, I am apparently “one of America’s most notable Republicans.” As if that’s not bad enough, two weeks later, a second letter arrived, saying I am also one of the Republican Party’s “most prominent members.”

How can that be? What did I do to deserve such an accusation? I can’t think of anything that could equal that. Well, except being called a prominent Democrat.

I’ve been working at least 47 percent of my brain trying to figure out how I became a notable and prominent Republican. Yes, it’s true that I’ve done things in my past I’m not proud of, but that was way back in the 1980s when I listened to Rush Limbaugh. You must understand — it was that, or ’80s music. I simply chose the lesser of two evils.

As usual, when something happens to me that I don’t like, the first person I blame is my husband. I desperately wanted to put this all on him. I checked his Internet history and saw a link titled “Conservative Boobs,” and thought we probably got on a list after he did that. However, when I confronted him, he claimed that was just an article describing the latest slate of candidates so that couldn’t have led to the letters.

The truth is though, that even before I talked to him, I knew he didn’t have anything to do with it. I knew the letters couldn’t be his fault because they are addressed to me only. They don’t even say “Mrs.” on them. Plus, he didn’t receive a copy of these letters.

I suppose they could have just made a mistake. Republicans are known to do that. Yes that must be it. I mean really, look at the photo next to this column, does anyone really think that’s what one of America’s most notable Republicans would look like?



What the Internet thinks

I’ll probably never know for sure if those letters give any real indication of what Republicans think but thanks to a new website, I can finally learn what the Internet thinks. WhattheInternetthinks.net is a site that will tell you what the Internet thinks about anything. Type in any word and it uses an algorithm to give you a result of, well, what the Internet thinks.

When you enter a search term, the site calculates and returns a percentage for three categories: negative, positive and indifferent. After calculating it also states a conclusion.

When I first encountered the site, those letters were still weighing heavily on my mind, so the first term I entered was “Republicans.” This term came out as 93.9 percent negative and the site’s conclusion was “The Internet is very negative about Republicans.” After that, I didn’t dare search for “prominent” or “notable” Republicans because I was afraid my laptop might explode.

I did decide to risk it and enter “Democrats” though. The site calculated that term to be 73.9 percent negative with the conclusion saying, “The Internet is negative about Democrats.”

I then typed in “government” which calculated to be 42.1 percent negative, the conclusion being “The Internet is negative about government, but only just.”

Next I decided to see how consistent this site is so I searched for a similar term, “Mafia.” That one came out as 59.5 percent negative, concluding “The Internet is negative about the Mafia.”

OK, so the site appears to be somewhat consistent, at least in how it views organizations that collect revenue through force.

What does the Internet think about “politicians?” After I asked, the site lit up again, saying 94.2 percent negative. Then I decided to search for “lawyer” and it was nearly a dead heat with 49.6 percent positive and 49.6 percent negative and .8 percent indifferent. So the conclusion for lawyers was, “It seems the Internet cannot decide what to make of lawyers.”

Neither can I, Internet, neither can I.

Finally I tried one last search, “voluntaryism.” That term came out as 100 percent positive, with the site concluding, “The Internet is absolutely positive about voluntarism.”

Me too, Internet, me too.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson is very glad to learn that “the Internet is absolutely positive about big butts.” Write her at Debbie@debbieharbeson.com.