And I wouldn’t be surprised if the page you’re looking for never existed in the first place.
That’s not gaslighting, either – which also isn’t a thing, but a paranoid fantasy you made up to confirm your own frail and problematic sense of reality.
And while I’m being straight with you, the other day your cat told me it wants to eat you. So feel free to bring that up at your next therapy session. Oh, and when you see your therapist, tell them I said HEY.
I was four months into a job at Harvard Medical School when I began to feel a bit strange. I was a biological software engineer at the time, and I was reading all these microbiology textbooks, and suddenly my entire life began to flash before my eyes. What was I doing?
Funny thing is, I liked the job. I liked the work I was doing, and in particular, I liked my colleagues. I liked everything about Harvard, apart from the Business School, I suppose. That place is crawling with twenty-two-year-olds who aspire to run hedge funds. It’s creepy. Harvard Medical School merely has a lot of kids cutting up cadavers. I can work with those people – as long as I don’t have to see the actual cadavers, of course, but that never happened because I worked in the library, and the only thing actually dead in the library are the spirits of some of the older librarians. Though in fairness, if you know anything about libraries in higher education, you’ll know they’ve been contending with quite a lot.
But I was saying, I was working with a bunch of scientists on the fourth floor of the Countway Library of Medicine, when that region in my brain governing creativity began to have a little tantrum. I began to see visions, and I stopped being able to sleep properly. I didn’t understand it then, but I have come to understand that I have a creative mind, and if I don’t exercise it, ~~ it begins to misbehave~~ okay I get a bit difficult.
Now, most people don’t seem to care when I’m difficult; I have a charming and whimsical personality, obviously, and anybody who says otherwise is merely bereft of wit and intellect, constrained by their own pettiness, and for some reason hanging onto pain. But as I say, when I am prevented from being creative, I become a little … michievous.
Example, I would call up IT and pretend I’d accidentally started a fire in my office, and ask them what I should do about it. That sort of thing. Nothing too serious, but all the same, ill-advised and worrisome. People probably thought I was a lunatic, but if that was a fireable offense at Harvard, there’d be nobody left to teach the students. (But as I say, if you really want to know what it’s like working with a bunch of maniacs geniuses, then I suggest reading my book.
Meanwhile, my imagination was in complete revolt. I was receiving a message, loud and clear from my subsconsciousness, and it went a bit like this: Kris,if you don’t start doing creative things, I’m going to sabotate your life in every conceivable way.
So, I created Wrongcards – a truthful-yet-useless ecard website that nobody in their right mind would ever use.
The site’s first iteration took me an entire weekend to build. I launched with sixteen cards, and uploaded everything onto a server on a Tuesday, which happened to be April 1st, 2008. Why April 1st? The answer is: no reason whatsoever. That was just the day I happened to get it all done. I don’t even like April Fools Day. It is a solemn day for me, a day in which marketing executives like to orchestrate ‘pranks’ to make their clients seem human and relatable.
Don’t look at me like that – I’m allowed to hate some things.
Of course, another thing I happen to hate is greeting card companies. You might even have noticed this. Well, let me put it all in perspective. I was working in a library, and surrounded by people who were a lot crazier than me. And by the way, if libraries were invented today, they’d be banned outright. They’d be blasted for piracy, for physical file-sharing, and most librarians would have to flee to non-extradition countries.
I’m not a librarian – I lack the temperament, and I make far too many jokes about arson – but I’d spent my childhood hiding in libraries, and when I worked at Harvard, my office simply happened to be in the library, so my social circle included rather a lot of them. In fact, I even wrote a book about librarians.
But I was saying, I’m not a librarian, though I am sensitive to the challenges they face. My librarian friends were being menaced by a bunch of MBAs, keen to turn the library into some sort of profitable business. So, as an expression of solidarity, I made my colleagues some cards like these.
The irony is, I was never a discontented employee. And some of my closest friends are middle managers (bless their hearts). Perhaps I’m a remarkably tolerant individual, or something. Still, I’ll admit part of me enjoyed terrorizing the middle managers of the library just a little.
But in truth, I didn’t create WRONGCARDS for other people. I made it for myself, as a sort-of art project, for the sake of exercising my imagination and thereby staying (relatively) sane.
After two months of operation, I was understandably unnerved to discover that wrongcards.com had received over 150,000 visitors.
It was a bit of a jolt. What should I do? This website didn’t look good for my career, but it seemed churlish to shut down the site. I mean, what was Harvard going to do - fire me? Well, yes, obviously they’d probably fire me, if they knew about it – there were too many cards advocating violence against middle managers – but I didn’t really want to be fired.
On the other hand, I’d have to leave Harvard one day. Leaving under a dark cloud would clearly be the coolest way of going about that. So instead of shutting down Wrongcards, I decided to keep it going and just not tell anybody at work about it.
So, after a few long hours of extreme prudence and restraint, I finally broke down and told one colleague about the site. I made him swear he wouldn’t tell anybody. The problem is, he worked at the Circulate Desk of the library, and he had little to do all day but chat to people. Yes, I think it took him until Friday to tell every single person on campus. Then things got a bit weird for me.
I remember getting into the elevator one day with this really nice, older lady who worked in Harvard Health Publications, and she said, “Hey, I went to Wrongcards today. So good!.”
In that moment, we both remembered the latest card.
We stared awkwardly at the floor until the elevator doors opened, and I was able to flee. You see how dumb this whole thing is?
A few years passed, and I had not come to the attention of Human Resources. So, I started to sell printed postcards at Amazon. Each box has 20 different cards, and they look so great in person.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a marketing budget — or an actual budget, for that matter — and I think I sold only about 500 boxes or so. About twenty people who bought them took the time to write to me and tell me how much they love them, so that was cool.
After a few years, I became a creative director for an autism research lab in the Center for Biomedical Informatics. How did that happen, you ask?
See, I thought I was sabotaging my career, but actually all I was doing was showcasing my skillset. I was proving I could get things done. I had built all this, you see – all of it. I designed the site, did all the illustrations, wrote all the content. I even coded (in GoLang) the ecard delivery app, and administer the server. In building this strange website, I more or less proved that I can do everything. Which was certainly not my original intention. Life’s a little strange, isn’t it.
Into the Future
One day, I left Harvard (and sadly, not under a dark cloud) and started writing books. I don’t know what I’m going to do with Wrongcards. I’m glad, and surprised, I haven’t lost the entire website in a game of Mah Jong. I don’t even know how to play Mah Jong, which just goes to show how easy it would have been to lose.
Personally, I think the best part of Wrongcards are not the cards themselves, but the descriptions below them. They tell their own (somewhat truthful) stories, though I find reading them puts me in a rather strange mood. If you enjoy the descriptions then I recommend reading some of my newsletters, because they’re a lot more enjoyable and sophisticated.
No, I don’t monetize this website. I’m determined for this site to be, not merely a waste of time, but a glorious waste of time. Besides, there’s probably not much money in Ecards That Are Wrong For Every Occasion, anyway.
I don’t currently have a ‘real’ job. Potential employers can google my name and see all these weird ecards and … well, ironically, the only place that would probably hire me now is Harvard University, because (let’s face it) they’ve done it before, and not only that, they promoted me. Twice. Honestly, if I hadn’t left of my own accord, they would have put me in charge of an entire department by now. That’s the problem with being good at things. You end up being put in charge of everything, and now other people’s general foolishness becomes your problem and responsibility (yes, I’m talking about you, Todd).
Still, truth be told, I probably should write as many books as I can, because they do seem to make a lot of people happy. Of course, if your institution is looking for someone like me, hit me up. I mean, your middle managers aren’t going to terrorize themselves, are they?
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If you are complaining because you have too much time on your hands, please first fill out Questionnaire B. Please be sure to fill in every field in the form: incomplete forms will be rejected. Questionnaire B will be mailed out to you on the 1st Wednesday of the month preceding your initial complaint. Due to logistics limitations, please wait three months for a response to Questionnaire B. If you wish to contest our response to Questionnaire B, you have until the second Wednesday of the month preceding your initial complaint.
If you are complaining about Wrongcards content that contradicts your religious affiliations, please be aware of the following notice pertaining to different faiths.
If you are Christian and upset, please let us know. Knowing what offends you is our surest guarantee that our work will improve.
If you are of the Jewish faith please sign forms L and K and attach proof of circumcision. Then send the documents in an A4-sized manila folder to your current Internet Service Provider. Please don’t send them to us - these are not the sort of things we enjoy looking at.
If you are of the Muslim faith: any resemblance to the Prophet Mohammad in any picture at Wrongcards is purely coincidental. However, if you think we have represented the image of the Prophet, and feel obligated to enforce your beliefs on the world, feel free to investigate Mr. Robert Banks-Mills of 1223 Suffolk Hills Drive, Billings, NM, in the United States. I have heard Mr. Banks-Mills (or ‘Dearest Bobbie-Wobbie’ as my ex-girlfriend Leanne now calls him) call the Great Prophet “a bit fat bearded liar” on more than one occasion, as he chewed on pork-trotters and swilled alcoholic beverages. You may do with this knowledge what you will.
Free speech. Many organizations love free speech because it allows them to be publicly, audaciously ridiculous.
Of course, the same organizations don’t really believe that free speech is something others should have. And if you walk around being honest enough, sooner or later the propaganda wing of these organizations will come gunning for you.
It is a fair measure of success, however, when your find your work getting banned by organizations like these. It’s a sign that your parents raised you right.
When an organization or a religion can crush your freedom of speech, society is in danger. You may think it doesn’t matter - that it doesn’t effect you. But what we don’t know is what the next century will be like.
I don’t want for us to be unable to publish a scientific paper because it disagrees with an overriding dogma claiming that the world was assembled in seven days. Or that it might confirm global warming. I don’t want our web hosts shutting us down when we post discussion about the putting-down of dissent in Tibet on our blogs. You know, a popular political site was shut down for publishing a photograph of flag-draped coffins. The retention of Free Speech is a scrabble up long, never-ending slippery slope. What’s the phrase: constant vigilance?
If you don’t mind, post links to us in forums and on your blogs. Sooner or later someone will try and ban us, it’ll be awesome. My Nanna will be so proud!
And hopefully I’ll make a nice spike of ad revenue while I frantically move the site to the same webhosts Pirate Bay use, or something, but I don’t look at it from the perspective of making gobs of money. God, who needs that?
When really it’s only about the fame and the glory.
At wrongcards we believe information privacy is an important issue. Therefore, we have developed the following policy. This policy may be updated, revised and re-posted from time to time. This policy applies to site visitors who comply with the wrongcards.com Terms of Service.
We are an Anti-SPAM site We do not share information on specific individuals with marketing companies. We are an anti-SPAM site. We will not promote the practice of unsolicited mailings of any kind.
We collect information, but we respect individual privacy We do collect certain individual information to facilitate card sends, card pickups, and the personalization of our site.
E-mail Addresses: We do not use the e-mail address contained in an E-Card for direct marketing purposes nor do we compile e-mail address to build mailing lists to sell to or share with marketers. We do use these addresses: to facilitate card delivery and to assist in card pickups. E-mail addresses are also used help protect a recipients’ privacy right to know the identity of a card sender.
IP addresses and Info shared with Card Recipients Card senders share with card recipients certain information beyond their notes (for example: e-mail addresses, IP addresses…). This is a necessary to facilitate card delivery and to protect the privacy of card recipients. IP addresses of card senders are printed on cards to protect the privacy of card recipients and to protect card recipients from anonymous abuse or harassment. wrongcards is not intended as to be used as an anonymous mail service.
Summary Demographics: We do share demographic “site summary information”. Such summaries are compiled from individual information but do not include specifics on individuals. This information is gathered via cookies, card sends, surveys, newsletter signups, and personalization. These summaries highlight broad demographic trends on our site (for example: browsers used, geographic breakdowns…). This information is used to improve our site and business, it is also used to attract site advertisers and new business opportunities.
Subscriptions: Our site’s subscription registration form requires users to give us their email address. The customer’s contact information is also used to contact the visitor when necessary. Users may opt-out of receiving mailings; see the choice/opt-out section below.
Demographic and profile data is also collected at our site. We use this data to tailor a visitor’s experience at our site – displaying content that might interest visitors, and displaying content according to visitor preferences. This information is shared with advertisers only on an aggregate basis. We do have an opt-in e-mail newsletter/subscription. We only send this newsletter to e-mail addresses that have requested this e-mail delivery. We ask individuals to only sign themselves up for this posting.
Sites to which we Link:
Wrongcards does contain advertising and content links to other sites. We do not police the privacy practices of these linked sites nor are we responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Web sites. Individuals visiting these links should be attentive to the policies and practices of these sites and act with discretion.
Under what conditions is you privacy relinquished? Wrongcards may release individual information to legal, corporate or internet authorities if there is reasonable suspicion that an individual has not complied with our Terms of Service. Examples of such non-compliance includes the use of our card system for harassment, SPAM, profanity, pornographic dissemination or illegal activity.
We do not disclose any information that could be used to identify you personally. For example, we may tell our business partners how many customers in certain demographic groups sent certain ecards. Notwithstanding the above policies, we reserve the right to disclose your personal information to appropriate third-parties if we are required to do so by law or we believe that such action is necessary:
To comply with legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena or court order;
To protect the company’s rights and property;
To investigate reports of users sending material using a false e-mail address or users sending harassing, threatening, or abusive messages;
To protect against misuse or unauthorized use of our website and/ or the wrongcards.com service;
During emergencies, such as when we believe someone’s physical safety is at risk.
Your Internet Protocol (IP) address can be accessed by recipients in the source of the ecard HTML. Under certain circumstances, recipients, their legal representatives, and/ or law enforcement authorities may be able to combine this with information disclosed by ISPs to determine the source of a particular communication. By using this service, you knowingly and voluntarily assume any risks associated with such disclosure
What visitor information is collected upon an wrongcards.com visit? Cookie Markers Why? How is this used? Unique visitor counts, User preference settings
What information is collected during a wrongcards send?
Your name and e-mail address, Recipient names and email addresses, card note, Sender’s IP address, browser type.
Why? How is this used?
Card delivery, Site support, Broad demographic reports, recipient privacy, Card pick up assistance.
How can I review, edit or delete this information?
An opportunity for editing is provided after a “card build” and before a site send.
What information is collected during a wrongcards pickup? IP of Pickup person
Why? How is this used?
Site support, Broad demographic reports, Recipient privacy, Card pick up assistance