Wousy Wousy Woo

SchleprockI’m working on an interesting project, well maybe only interesting to me, wherein I gauge pessimism and despair in the Nashville blogsphere.  Full disclosure: I’m an extreme optimist, annoyingly so.  If that isn’t already quite clear, it will be in a moment.

Now, I’ve always known that certain blogs I like to visit are downright depressing.  I knew that at these blogs there seemed to be a preponderance of “things suck” posts – either personally, nationally, or world-wide.  Some seem to border on despair.  But, it was just a feeling.

Being a numbers guy, I thought it would be cool to quantify it.

So, I’ve come up with The Schleprock Index.  Think of it as a quantification of the answer to the question, “How depressing is it to read my blog?” 

For you youngins, Schleprock was a character on the Flintstones spin-off cartoon “Pebbles and Bam-Bam” which aired in the early 1970’s.  He walked around with a cloud constantly over his head, mumbling “wousy-wousy-woo…”.  He brought bad luck to all who came in contact with him.

The formula for the Schleprock Index is simple: in a given time frame, what percentage of posts are negative descriptions of the way things are?  Examples might be a description of how one’s life personally is going through a rough patch, or societal “hell in a handbasket” posts, or lamentations of world affairs.  The scope is not important; it’s the negativity I want to measure.

So, to get the Shleprock index, you divide the number of negative posts by the total number of posts.  This gives you a percentage (which is what the index really is).  My index does NOT count purely political posts, because what I want to measure is a negative outlook on life and the world in general, not on a particular political candidate or party.

The only imperfection to the index, which I am still working on, is that it does not account for tone: “I can’t find a date” and “we’re all going to die in the impending apocalypse!” both count the same.  I need to find a way to statistically weight the results accounting for tone.

The index offers no commentary, simply holds up a mirror, and you can do with it what you will, or ignore it altogether if you enjoy spreading the misery.  Some people do; that’s your business.  I’m not saying that it isn’t important to point out societal problems.  But I also think that man was not created to live in despair.  He will not live in a place devoid of hope.

I’m compiling a list for April.  My own index at Shoot The Moose is low this month, even for my optimistic outlook.  I came in at a Schleprock index of 14.3 .  Granted, it would have been a LOT higher in December when my wife had her cancer and surgery, but I would doubt if I ever would have an index of over 50 (which is the number at which your blog is considered “depressing” according to the Schleprock Index).

(On a side note, it would be extremely unfair for me to include Kat in my published results.  There should probably be a personal tragedy exemption, I would think.)

I’ll post some numbers once I get them compiled.  But, in my research, I found something that was eyebrow raising, to say the least.

Southern Beale has a Schleprock Index of 61.5 in April.

The Homeless Guy only has a Schleprock index of 38.5.

Just sayin’.

The rest of my research should be pretty interesting, to say the least.

17 Responses to “Wousy Wousy Woo”

  1. Southern Beale Says:

    Southern Beale has a Schleprock Index of 61.5 in April.


    Was that before or after my post this morning about the Predators’ amazing victory last night? (Or are you a Detroit Red Wings fan? Now that WOULD be a downer.)

    Well I visited Jim Voorhies’ place this week and got a link to deathclock.com. Talk about a fast train to Debbie Downerville–it calculates how much time you have left to live!

  2. Busy Mom Says:

    Will stay tuned…

  3. nm Says:

    I certainly hope that Pebbles and Bam Bam paid Al Capp for stealing Joe Btfsplk.

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  5. dolphin Says:

    It’s an interesting project, but I wouldn’t try to draw too many conclusions from what you find out.

  6. annieepoetry Says:

    I don’t choose to live hope or despair. I live in both. As an artist-writer-human I don’t know any other way. and I agree. the homelessguy is doing a service, and it gives me hope, more than despair.

  7. jim voorhies Says:

    so is a post about manure positive or negative? I mean, it is a shit post, so to speak.

  8. Katherine Coble Says:

    I guess it would depend on whether or not you like the manure, have a solution for the manure or would vote for the manure’s platform.

  9. Southern Beale Says:

    the homelessguy is doing a service, and it gives me hope, more than despair.

    But that post about him having his laptop stolen was a HUGE downer.

  10. Aunt B. Says:

    I don’t know. The more I think about this, the more I think it’s really problematically weird. It seems like you’re trying to set an objective standard for what is actually a personal preference. Why can’t you just say “Eh, I don’t care for their writing. It seems more negative than suits me. It’s just not my thing.” rather than trying to come up with some way to quantify it with numbers?

    If you don’t like something, fine. That’s your business. But when you start trying to declare your standards the objective standards that everyone should consider, I have to ask, who are you to do that?

    It seems like you’re trying to come up with some unassailable reason for not liking certain folks’ writing but, in order to do that, you have to position yourself as some kind of unbiased observer.

    But you’re not. No one is.

    I’d rather you just dealt with me square than to push some number off on me. I want to interact (or not) with a human, not be judged against some standard I never signed up for.

  11. Southern Beale Says:

    It seems like you’re trying to set an objective standard for what is actually a personal preference.

    Well, it’s certainly extremely subjective. My post “More Like This, Please!” could be considered a positive, since a Democratic Senator did something I really liked (rip White House budget director Jim Nussle a new one). But if you are a Loyal Bushie, you won’t like Sen. Mikulski questioning Bush’s $108 billion request for war funding while eliminating domestic law enforcement grants. You’ll think that’s a big negative.

    It’s all relative to what goes on between the ears of Slartibartfast, which is a place I really don’t want to go.

  12. Slartibartfast Says:

    B – you are right; I don’t think there’s any way to be fair, so I’ll drop the project.

    If I could have written a passive system, the kind where you enter your website name and it gives you a score (like the “Curse” meter), that would have been one thing, but this one would have been very subjective.

    However, it was supposed to all be in fun – I had no idea it would get under people’s skin like it did. OK, maybe Beale since it was a direct call-out. Even then, it wasn’t supposed to be an attack, just a gentle nudging to say, “is this the image you are trying to portray?”

    I’m sorry, sb. It wasn’t right to single you out like that; I should have waited till I was done. But, I do want to add while I have an audience with you and you’re not in bomb-throwing mode that by reading your blog, I have no idea who you are FOR. We damned sure know who you are against, though 😉 But, maybe that’s the way you want it, and it’s not fair of me to be so public in my criticism. Again, I’m sorry.

    B – I swear I didn’t have you in mind. I was amazed at how many people thought I was talking about them. Like I told bridgett, I don’t know if that’s a sign of good writing or bad writing. Probably both.

    BTW, did ANYBODY besides bridgett and nm read my follow-up today? I thought it was a pretty good summation of where I was going with the whole thing. I would still use that post if I were instructing young writers. BUT, y’all are grown ups, and don’t need some dude telling you how to write.

    Again, sorry for all the hubbub; I swear my intention was more good natured than what ensued.

  13. Sarcastro Says:

    Unsolicited Input:
    Where you’ve gone wrong is your characterization of Schleprock. He wasn’t “negative”, per se. He was chronically unlucky to the point of being cursed. His full name, in point of fact, was Badluck Schleprock. By the wiki, “an icon and stereotype for unlucky or hapless individuals”.

    That’s a different breed of cat than some one who is “negative”.

    You could legitimately do an index of posts that reflect the number of “Woe is Me” posts.

    For example, if a month’s worth of Kat Coble’s blog have life threatening illnesses, financial troubles and dead pets in six out of ten posts. That’s a Schleprock Index of 60%.

    Posts that are negative or critical of others shouldn’t necessarily count towards that index unless that negativity illustrates how chronically unlucky and unhappy the writer chooses to portray him/herself.

  14. annieepoetry Says:

    the post about the loss of the homelessguy’s laptop was sad but at least he didn’t lose his head. and thats the thing with negative and positive writing. There are lots of negative and positive things that often times are linked together, in complicated and awe-inspiring ways. We can’t ignore one or the other.

    I think it is important to evaluate the impact of our message on our readers. Readers do need a pause long enough to come up for air. As writers we should be critical thinkers but that doesn’t mean we can’t pop a few jokes. The world is so crazy fugged up, we might as well laugh at ourselves and everyone else. By not clearly explaining the problems we are facing, we become elitist, and are withholding important information to the public who may not know. How can we impact our world and improve it unless we know the entire picture(at least as much as we can)? If the information is complicated we need someone to explain to us in meaningful and simple language.

    and about the blogs, if people’s lives are hard, and suck, it is helpful for them to share it with others. I think just knowing other people are listening allows the person to gain perspective on their lives.

    blah blah life is a poorly made tv movie blah blah

  15. Roger Abramson Says:

    I think it was a crappy idea only because I didn’t think of it myself.

  16. Moses Blogging! | Southern Beale Says:

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