I have Fred and Shim to thank for introducing to me the art of thread hijacking. Without their tutelage I believe that the following transactions would have either ended in a flame out or a filter to the trash can. Instead, what resulted was something just shy of amazing.
In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definition, a thread hijacking is a deliberate off topic comment in a conversation. This is seen most on Facebook comments immediately after the President enacts some executive privilege that may or may not be illegally altering certain amendments to the Bill of Rights. Oh boy, here we go.
Wait wait, **snap **snap** , over here, focus, fo-cus...
A less toxic example of comment hijacking occurred on this very blog's comment section of the blog post The BCM Brand. Let's take a look.
Confusing, right? How about rude? Allow me to introduce you to Fred and Shim.
Thread hijacking needn't be radically off topic. It needs to be only be slightly so. In refining your approach, you may just get an opportunity to turn what would otherwise result in a hostile reaction to one in which your captive audience accepts the injected disinformation and respects you for doing it.
Here's how it all went down. Be forewarned, this might take a while. So for those of you who are still here -- Shim left us long ago -- I wouldn't be offended if you took a break right now to brew a pot of coffee or visit the toilet or something. Yes, you can even do number two. Take your time. Please, don't strain. Honestly, I won't be hurt by your extended absence. Yes, I want you to be good and comfortable when taking this wholesome goodness in.
Part One: Finding Your Audience
What I've learned from the experience I'm about to share with you is that one aught to consider opening their horizons on selecting an audience to thread hijack.
The obvious choices are Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Yeah, okay, if you want to dabble in the minor leagues, be my guest. Go ahead and try it, but I'd venture to guess that an off topic comment on gun control, global warming, abortion, etc... on your democratic | republican frenemy's recent photo of their pet isn't going to go very far.
Instead, what I'm talking about is looking for new avenues to explore. Why not venture into a heady Newtonian physics forum and lob a comment about how unrealistic the Barbie doll's dimensions are? Ok, so maybe that's a tad trite. Or how about visiting a cooking website and posting a recipe on minced baby seal meat? See where that takes you. Even better: perhaps there's a legitimate thread in your spam folder that's waiting to be explored? Who knows, there may be a gem or two in there that involves a real conversation that doesn't involve the Nigerian check cashing scam or 78% discounts on Viagra.
I was lucky. I didn't even have to get my hands filthy by digging through spam. It came directly to my inbox.
Part Two: The Hijack
Earlier this week, I received a legitimate email from a group of acting students who were in a class project together. Like you, I was confused why I received the email and nearly deleted it. But before doing so, I glanced at the body and saw that the author mentioned that he hoped he got Brady's email fixed this time.
I was busy and chose to ignore it. The thread went quiet for two days and I forgot about it.
Then these appeared in my mailbox:
I have to admit, my reaction to this inflood of unwanted mail was not favorable. I was tempted to reply curtly to have my email address removed from their list. But I rationalized that they were college kids. I was once like them, stuck in a group project that I didn't necessarily want to be in. I decided to give them a break and replied gently:
Contented for the moment, I went back to my work.
A few hours passed before checking for notification of new mail. Suddenly, my inbox was flooding faster than an unattended basement with a broken washing machine hose:
Since my first note fell on apathetic ears, it was now time to act.
Hello? Are you still here? Pay attention! This is where the whole dealy about thread hijacking comes into play. My response:
Hooah. That's a beaut. A Masterpiece, I tell you.
I'll never forget the titillating feeling I had when I clicked "send" on that message. I wondered, would they ignore me again? Or would they accept my hack as advice? I was besides myself with anticipation. I must have clicked my refresh button a hundred times over the next five minutes. Nothing.