The perplexing success of Tired.com.

Opinion, gossip, and more from around the Web.
July 13 2004 5:58 PM

So Tired

Where Web surfers go when they haven't slept a wink.

(Continued from Page 1)

when you're a 16 year old girl who from the looks of things, doesnt have a single problem, people think you're strange and maybe even high. I am tired of counselors. tired of hearing about political and economical problems the world has. tired of being expected to put family before friends. SO tired of other females no matter what the age feeling as though every other woman is competition. Tired of my best friends mother jealous of her 16 year old daughter. This, my friend, is only the very tip of the iceberg.

And, of course, the guy who's had a few too many:      

I'm sick and tired of all this homophobia shit.

When are we all just going to be people? WHEN?

Also I could get more sleep at night.

I'm drunk.

Bye.

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E-mails from .mil addresses abound, as America's ever more wired—and tired—troops go online to cope with cabin fever.

Tired of being in the navy and on a fucking ship in the middle of the god damn ocean with 400 of my not so closest friends who dont bathe as regular as normal folk should. Tired of my ugly little toe. Tired of wonderring why my bellybutton smells like cheese. Tired of masturbating into a pack of bologna. Tired of wondering what my man chowder tastes like and if I did taste it, would anyone think differently of me? Tired of you.

No one bothers to write in anonymously. Unlike Group Hug and other anonymous confession sites, which allow users to spill all without revealing their identities, messages to tired@tired.com are sent from the visitor's own e-mail client. Gripes about husbands, wives, children, and commanding officers come signed with the sender's real name and address. Mike doesn't reply to these messages, and he doesn't publish them, but how do they know he won't? One theory he's encountered in his user-experience work: People trust simply designed sites. Tired.com's plain-text, unadorned format seems soothing and trustworthy, particularly when compared to the garish, on-the-make look of most sites. A few visitors mistake it for a professional sleep-deprivation study and dutifully list their symptoms, perhaps in hopes of joining a clinical trial.

I have a different theory: The people who write in just haven't thought about the possible consequences. The few dozen e-mails Mike shared with me don't read like the artfully revealing posts of hip, ironic webheads who socialize online. They seem like missives from people with overbooked offline lives who happened to be plopped in front of a computer. On the Web, bloggers, the tell-all diarists of LiveJournal, and Paris Hilton and her ilk are constantly jostling for attention. By contrast, the stories people send Mike are as mundane and unembellished as his site's home page. Correspondents rarely confess to the sort of skanky, self-destructive behavior found on Group Hug ("I slept with someone I work with. He's married. I'm friends with his wife."). And why should they? There's no guilty thrill of public catharsis. Tired.com isn't another outlet for exhibitionists. It's an unexpected invitation to quietly complain about the same old same old to a stranger who might actually listen.

Paul Boutin is a writer living in San Francisco.

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