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'I Am Lonely, Will Anyone Speak to Me?' Inside 10 Years of the Saddest Internet Thread

November 21, 2014 in Blogs

By Tori Telfer, Salon.com

In 2004, this sad thread started. It's still going even as the Internet has totally changed.

This October, a guest user logged onto moviecodec.com — a technical Q&A forum for media file playback and conversion — to post a cry for help on one of the site’s off-topic forums. “[I']m so lonely,” wrote the user, “feeling sad please anyone talk to me.” It was an almost word-for-word replica of the thread’s title, written 10 years and thousands of posts earlier: “i am lonely will anyone speak to me.” The thread’s creator was also a guest, who logged in as “lonely” in 2004. A decade ago, due to the freakishly searchable title and the fact that the site was already optimized for maximum Google search exposure, the thread went viral. Within days, it was the No. 1 result for “I am lonely” on Google, and hundreds of anonymous lonely hearts were flocking to the forum to commiserate, console and weep.

Today, the “i am lonely” thread is a decade-long anthem to the phenomenon of loneliness in the Internet age. It has its own Wikipedia page. It was written up in the New Yorker and the Guardian. It’s no longer the first result for “I am lonely” on Google, but its longevity makes it a poignant record of a certain type of Catch-22 loneliness: the isolation of people who turn to the Internet to make them feel less alone.

Nine days after “lonely” posted, other anonymous users joined in, saying that Google had sent them. Toward the end of 2004, the site’s webmaster, Bjarne Lundgren, wrote that he was lonely, too. In 2005, the lonely hearts began to talk about forming a club, throwing a New Year’s party, or moving to an island together to drink champagne from coconut shells. In 2006, Lundgren started a separate forum for loneliness called alonelylife.com, because the thread’s popularity made him realize that “apparently there weren’t that many places on the Internet for lonely people.”

Google continued to send the lonely to the thread, and the lonely continued to cry out (“i must be the loneliest girl in the …read more


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