Metro

The story behind a Mass. woman’s online comment that is sweeping across the Web

Screenshot via New York Times

Christine McMorrow was in the middle of using her iPhone’s voice-to-text feature to comment on a New York Times story this week, icing her knee and boiling some eggs, when she was suddenly interrupted by a call on her
landline from a friend who was arriving to her Boston area home earlier than expected.

As she paused from ranting on the newspaper’s website to take the call on the house phone, little did she know that her iPhone never stopped recording her voice. The contents of her private conversation were accidentally transcribed directly into the story’s comment box, and then inadvertently posted to the Times’ website.

What could have been written off as a simple goof by a devoted commenter with an opinion to share instead cemented the 70-year-old’s legacy as the author of what New York magazine declared was the “single best comment of the year.” As a screenshot of the comment that was shared on Twitter went viral, others said the Internet faux pas was enough to get them to renew their subscription to the Times.

Advertisement

“It’s so embarrassing, oh, come on,” McMorrow, a resident of the Greater Boston area, told the Globe by phone Friday. “My autodictation function went wild on me. I don’t know what happened. It was very weird.”

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

McMorrow said her post was responding to a story titled “As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up” when the autospeak function on her smartphone apparently went rogue.

The comment began like this: “Zero optimism that the Democrats can ever regain . . .”

And then it veered off. Way off.

“Hello hi oh you’re there are you outside oh well let me come to the door I’m icing my knee and I’m hard boiling some eggs I’ll turn them off and then will do our meeting yet out that that will be fine.”

Advertisement

The conversation shifted, and McMorrow started talking about her boyfriend “Norman,” who apparently wasn’t home at the time, but if he returned home he could spend time in the “cave” — yes, it was a “man cave” — so that McMorrow and her guest could get on with their meeting without interruption. (His name is really Normand, but her phone must have dropped the “d.”)

“I was down in the Cape [she actually said cave] myself this morning by getting so let me get up because I’m right now sort of trapped in my chair,” the comment continued. “And then I’ll put the ice pack back on when you get here OK thanks bye-bye.”

According to The New York Times — which highlighted the comment for its hilarity in a separate blog post, sending the Internet into a tizzy — McMorrow is a frequent flier when it comes to commenting on Times stories. Since she started commenting on the site, she has racked up around 10,000 mini-opinions, so many that the newspaper called her one of its “most faithful and prolific commenters.”

McMorrow, a retired writer who was born in Roslindale, told the Globe she considers commenting online a bit of a hobby, one she picked up around 2012.

“I really like the comments because there’s a community of hardcore posters,” she said. “It has gotten far more interesting under this administration.”

Advertisement

She blamed the blunder this week on a recent iPhone iOS upgrade. Meanwhile, The Times explained that a feature on its website designates certain commenters, McMorrow included, as “verified,” assigning those with a high track record of high-quality comments a green checkmark — and “the privilege of commenting on articles and blog posts without moderation.”

‘I am just glad I wasn’t swearing when it was recording me.’

McMorrow said she learned about the online mistake three hours after the post went up, when family members and friends started texting her about it. Normand laughed about it with her later.

“Man almighty,” she said. “A mistake on an iPhone certainly made a lot of noise. . . . I am just glad I wasn’t swearing when it was recording me.”

As for those hard-boiled eggs?

“They came out fine,” she said. “Obviously my comment was way on its way to the New York Times’ website before they finished.”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.