Friday, 9 May 2008

Piffling Epiphany

The human mind is a powerful, but delicate, instrument. Capable of the most sophisticated thought and intricate reasoning, it is, nonetheless, poised on a knife-edge over the abyss of gibbering insanity. One small jolt is all it takes to plunge it into the depths of lunacy, and I fear that just such a descent may have befallen one of my regular visitors.

In cyberspace, as in the physical world, people are creatures of habit. Just as you might become accustomed to meeting the same people on the same bus every working day, so you get used to seeing the same users crop up time and time again in your website logs. You recognise that they visit your site several times each week, and, sometimes, every day. You know what time they are likely to visit, where they are likely to have come from, and so on.

And then, for no obvious reason, one of them starts behaving weirdly. Instead of visiting once, or maybe twice a day, as they have been doing for months, they appear in your logs ever more frequently, sometimes five or six times in a few hours. I could understand it if the blog had been updated between their visits; that would be flattering, but understandable. But this sudden upsurge in interest appears to have taken place while I have been away, leaving the blog to survive unattended for a couple of weeks or so.

Eager anticipation akin to withdrawal symptoms might, perhaps, explain it, although I can't imagine many people being that interested in my ramblings. And then there is the matter of epiphany.

On 2 May 2008, at 09:10:12, this unusually frequent visitor made their first appearance of the day. Nothing too unusual about that, but within 30 seconds they were searching the blog for a very specific word - epiphany. Why?? Did they just wake up one morning and pick a word to search for at random? And why that particular word?

Imagine if one of the aforesaid bus passengers, with whom you were expecting to exchange "good morning" type greetings, as you have done every day for weeks, had suddenly leapt from their seat, screamed "epiphany" down your lug hole and then run for it. Finding this wacky search recorded in my logs just now had much the same effect on me - all the more so because, as far as I am aware, I've never used the word in my life, and, beyond a few suspiciously religious overtones, didn't even know what it meant.

Naturally, I've now looked it up, and, in a pleasingly recursive result, it has become its own epiphany. I still don't know what could drive an apparently normal surfer to such an unexpected search, though, or what on Earth made them think they were likely to find the word on my blog. People, as I have often observed, are weird. Still, the incident has not been repeated, and I have high hopes that they're feeling a little bit better.

Billy Seggars.

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