New York Times readers leave thousands of comments on our site each day. Usually these comments don’t go viral.
But on rare occasions, they get shared widely, charming a wider portion of the internet beyond the digital walls of The Times.
On Thursday, two of our readers, Kathy Watson and her husband, Stu, of Hood River, Ore., joined that unofficial hall of fame.
Stu, a retired newspaper editor and writer, left a comment on Mike Isaac’s story about how Mark Zuckerberg plans to change Facebook and other social platforms so that people have more private conversations with smaller groups:
Kathy, also a former journalist and a semiretired chef, had a different perspective:
A Times comment moderator spotted the exchange and highlighted both responses as “Times Picks,” making them more visible to other readers of the comments.
Then one of our technology columnists, Kevin Roose, tweeted the exchange, adding his own commentary: “Good lord, imagine getting owned this hard in the NYT comments section by your OWN SPOUSE.”
More than 10,000 people on Twitter liked or retweeted his tweet, and many others weighed in — either siding with Kathy or Stu, admitting that they could relate, or hypothesizing about the state of the couple’s marriage. “Oh my god these are friends of mine, and this is so on brand!” replied Melissa Tokstad.
We spoke to Stu and Kathy by phone (at the same time) on Friday, to find out how they felt about their sudden Twitter fame and if they were even aware of it.
They didn’t know they had been “causing a sensation” until we showed them the tweets, but they each good-naturedly described the situation as “funny.” (And they confirmed that Ms. Tokstad is indeed a friend.)
Had Stu been aware of Kathy’s reply to his comment? Yes. “She loves to tell me about all the things she does to smack me down.”
Is this the first time Kathy has replied to one of Stu’s comments? Yes. (Their shared New York Times account is under her email address, so she received a notification when his comment was posted.) “I saw his comment and thought, well that’s something,” she said and laughed (she used a different word than “something”).
Does Kathy ever feel like Stu owes her a debt for keeping him up-to-date on Facebook happenings, as some implied on Twitter? No. They agreed that the flow of information goes both ways. “The truth is I’m an introvert, and he’s an extrovert,” Kathy said. “There’s a lot of give and take of information, and what’s important to us is staying connected.”
Want more hall-of-fame comments? Check out the stories behind these favorites:
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