Funny People

Bryan wrote poems and stories for fun.

He wasn't too bad either. Some people said he had potential, so he always put his writing up on a website so that he could receive advice on how to improve.

But he was annoyed.

He never got any reviews. Tons of people clicked on his stories, apparently, but nobody ever had the courtesy to review.

He watched the website's hit counter often. The first day he posted his stories, he got plenty of hits, and even a review or two.

A day later, the hit count was barely half the previous day, and the next day, barely a quarter. A week later, he was lucky to get one hit a day. He did not receive a single comment to any of his stories after the first day.

This pattern recurred each time he published something new. He tried his best to make them perfect. He read them, reread them, proofed them, revised them. He read his own work as a reader would, noting parts that seemed cliché or poorly written. He never wrote anything without a second draft, and he generally made a third. He looked for grammar errors ceaselessly, and to his knowledge, caught most of them.

He also updated his profile page, asking and begging anyone who visited to leave a review. It was a well-written, articulate, and earnest plea.

Almost two months later, he still didn't have much to show for his hard work. It made him sad that even though so many people looked at his writing, so few found time to leave a comment. Maybe, he reasoned, he just wasn't a writer at all. Perhaps his work wasn't anything special, interesting, or meaningful.

"Just quit," said the voice in his head.

But he couldn't. He wouldn't. He refused to quit, because he loved writing. He decided, then to take a new angle, to look at examples of other people's writing.

Because he had to figure out what was wrong with his writing, especially in comparison to writers who had many, many reviews, he did not leave reviews.

He read many stories and poems. He was shocked to find, however, that none of these writers did anything, as far as he could see, that he did not. He could not for his life understand why he could not convince anyone critique his work.

Then, after almost another month of searching, just as he was about to give up, he received a surprisingly detailed review from an reader who named NotQuiteDemosthenes. This review outlined everything that the stranger considered immature, cliché, and out of place, and also complimented some of the better aspects of his writing.

He had never before received a review so detailed. He wondered what convinced NotQuiteDemosthenes to leave such a brilliant review, so he looked at the reader's profile. There, he found only one simple, compelling line.

It said, "If you get a review, leave a review. If you click it, review it. Copy and paste."

-

In the next week, he received more reviews than he had in his entire three-month tenure on the site.

Why had he not seen it before? He was doing the same thing that he hated so much. He read, but didn't bother to review any of the work that other writers exactly like him had poured so much of their heart and soul into.

He laughed at himself, at his own blindness. Give a review, and get a review... What a novel idea!

-

From the author:

It cracks me up to read profiles that beg for reviews. I read one today that inspired me to write this little allegorical piece. It said something along the lines of "drop me a review so I can improve."

It was so rude, and so presumptuous, I had to laugh.

Here is the sequence of events that transpired when I read that page:

-I look at the profile of a total stranger.

-Total stranger asks me for a favor.

-Total stranger offers nothing in return.

-Total stranger does not use good manners.

If this had happened off of the Internet, I have a feeling most people would walk away quickly, giving the stranger a look of disdain. Such behavior would be completely unacceptable by any normal social standard. And I say to you, why should life work in a different way here than it does anywhere else in the real world?