The Internet can be a very cruel place. Veiled in the anonymity of fake accounts, keyboard to keyboard communication with random people has a propensity to get weird and at worse, downright mean.
Twitter has been getting a bad rap for being one of the meanest places on the Net and this is theorised to be one of the reasons the microblogging platform has started to lose traction.
Indeed as one statistic states, “something mean, cruel, or hurtful is posted on Twitter every 60 seconds”. Which actually – when you look at the amount of venomous stuff on Twitter – seems lower than one would think.
As of October, a new initiative was launched by anti-bullying charity Champions Against Bullying and advertising agency Deutsch to make Twitter, and indeed the Internet, a rosier place.
That initiative is: The NiceBot.
Basically, it’s a spam account but instead of sending users messages about making twenty thousand dollars working from home, or offering options to increase your followers, The NiceBot spams encouraging messages. Randomly. To any and every one.
“The NiceBot’s mission is to spread niceness to everyone it can. It doesn’t worry about the response. It simply thinks everyone is deserving of kindness,” says Jeff Vinick, the executive creative director at Deutsch, which makes NiceBot sound incredibly naive but nevertheless, nice.
Think of it as Robocop but instead of packing guns and high explosives, NiceBot is armed with a cheery attitude and an infinite array of compliments.
These are its only weapons as it skips its way merrily into one of the most caustic environments on the planet.
Its mission? To make the world a nicer place, one tweet at a time.
The NiceBot looks pretty much how you would picture simple, old school-looking robot guy, his colour of choice is baby blue – a gentle colour to calm us all into accepting his compliments with good nature.
Here’s some of the niceness The NiceBot is dishing out to combat the hate.
@BhumishSave You should always fly first class, because you are one first-class individual. #TheNiceBot Nov 18 2015
@InsideGovt It is not your birthday, but I would like to celebrate you today. #TheNiceBot Nov 18 2015
@999CHRISTIAN666 Sending you a cyber hug because you are awesome #TheNiceBot Nov 18 2015
Pretty cheesy. But still, I have to admit, sort of nice.
The NiceBot picks accounts at random and sends a message every 36 seconds. The goal is for this part-robot, part-optimist, all nice guy, to send a message to all of Twitters’ 300 million users.
But surely, it would not take long for The NiceBot to get a warm Internet welcome from a chorus of sadists who just have to abuse a bot designed to be nice.
So I checked out The NiceBot on Twitter. And so far, from scanning its message feed, it seems to be sliding through the twitterverse completely unscathed – like a lone butterfly, bobbing its way happily, oblivious through a hailstorm.
In fact, the users The Nicebot has messaged seem to be responding positively to the whole nice-spam experience by sending thank you retweets, and little notes just to say they appreciate the random attention from a random bot. And that’s the point.
Instead of getting online and finding some random hatred, or snarky comment, The Nicebot is planting little bits of pleasant all over the Web, not just for those it messages but for everyone to just stumble upon, like noticing a daisy in bloom while rushing through the park on your way to the office. That sounds super corny, but that’s exactly what it’s like.
So call me sentimental but I figured, hey, if TheNicebot is going to send a message every 36 seconds until it has messaged every user on Twitter – a mission that will take 342 years – we could all be waiting a while to get that bit of niceness in our interaction box, so why not help it along.
I decided, I could send one nice message to a random person, do my bit for the soon-to-be overworked NiceBot. I sent:
If being awesome were a job, you’d be a ceo, because you’re all kinds of awesome.
As I sent this, I sort of cringed. It sounds horribly cheesy. And just as I was getting ready to close out this article, my phone dinged and I looked down, and there was the person I’d messaged, sending me a big thank you and a gif of a smiling woman blowing a kiss.
I actually laughed out loud. Emulating the NiceBot is actually pretty nice.