In an unexpected departure from the scheduled release of its trove of a quarter-million diplomatic cables, today’s WikiLeaks discharge zeroes in on the past three years of personal and quasi-professional correspondence of one “Claire,” a 30-year-old office assistant living in New York City. Much of the information, released exclusively to Intel, is mundane — a significant portion of the Gmail documents from her Inbox, for example, come from the website Daily Candy and its subsidiaries (despite the fact that records also show Claire sent the company an “Unsubscribe” e-mail on January 13, 2008 and again on May 5, 2009). But over the course of reviewing the some 5,000 documents from a variety of digital platforms (including but not limited to instant-message conversations, Gchat transcripts and Facebook messages) Intel’s data team, who received the raw files a month ago for perusal, found that a portrait of distinct character emerges — a person of general decency and good humor who not infrequently succumbs to the bouts of pettiness, bitchiness, insecurity and Schadenfreude common to middle-class residents of New York City in the year 2010.
A summary of our findings and selections from the documents are after the jump.
A surprisingly large amount of correspondence in Claire’s Inbox is devoted to the scheduling and rescheduling of drinks and lunch dates, many of which do not actually transpire. One such date with “Peter,” a vague work acquaintance whose carefully worded e-mails and tendency toward the usage of lowercase letters indicate he would like to get a job at Claire’s company and/or sleep with Claire, was scheduled and rescheduled multiple times over the course of a year. The initial plans were made after Claire, in a burst of goodwill, and somewhat hung-over, made a casual suggestion in an e-mail from her work account (9/8/09: “We should really get drinks!”) that was seized upon by Peter, who suggested a variety of dates and venues. Claire agreed, only to cancel the day before (9/24/09) the meeting was to take place, citing “the flu.” (Alternative files, however, point to a different explanation: According to an invite from Paperless Post, Claire had been invited to a party at which she believed a man she was interested in would be present; IMs from a different portion of the leaked documents show Claire instant-messaging a friend about the event and the man in question: “I think he might be kind of gay,” she wrote on 9/15/09. “He talks about his mother and Lady Gaga a lot.” No explanation was given for her willingness to launch into a doomed, short-lived romance.) Later e-mails show Claire proposed an alternate date to Peter, which Peter rejected due to “a meeting” but proposed a dinner the following week, an e-mail that Claire did not answer for ten days. Plans were made and rearranged a total of 24 times before fizzling out in late November of 2010 after Claire’s suggestion they “get together after the holidays.”
Weddings and related events figure prominently on Claire’s calendar, to the point where it seems she may have become inured to the magic of such occasions. One event this past June, Claire relayed in an e-mail, was “a total Laura Ashley nightmare … the best part was when the best man projectile vomited on the bride at the after-party hahahaha.” More recently she forwarded an e-mail of another friend in a mermaid-style gown she was considering for her nuptials to a third friend, K, with the message, “How do we tell her this is ugs?” (After some back and forth, they decided not to.) Simultaneously, Claire and K were conducting a Gchat about the myriad events they were expected to attend as members of the wedding party, which included an engagement party in Brooklyn, a bachelorette party in Oregon, a spa day, bar crawl, and dinner in Manhattan, and a bridal shower in Connecticut. “It’s like, how many events do you need to have to celebrate your love!???!?!” Claire wrote. “Uuuggggh.” She then e-mailed K a screen-grab of an ad for “Curves,” the fitness center for women, that had scrolled across her screen during the course of the conversation, writing in the subject line, “FUCK YOU GOOGLE.”
Although the files from this latest tranche aren’t part of the set of diplomatic cables, the Claire papers show the subject and her friends devote a similar scrutiny to the machinations of men as the U.S. and South Korea do to the occasional missive from Kim Jong-Il’s generals. Witness this example of a recent IM conversation between Claire and her friend “S”:
S: Okay, so Work Crush just e-mailed me back after I asked him if he was going to Todd’s going-away party. “Yeah! Only for a little while though. U?”
S: What does that MEAN?
ClaireBear: Well, I think the exclamation point and the forced casualness of the “u”
ClaireBear:as opposed to “you” indicate he is enthusiastic about seeing you but trying to play it cool
Despite their obvious obsession with members of the opposite sex, Claire and her friends at times exhibit disdain towards them that borders on cruelty. In one e-mail discussion, Claire and three female friends bemoaned the fact that two of their number had had sex with a man who was “not even cute,” according to one participant in the e-mail chain, and “maybe has a touch of dwarfism” according to another. And yet: “He had CONDOMS PLURAL on his person,” reported the one of the two who had succumbed to his advances. “Slut.” “This is why I hate New York,” another complained. “We live in a city where a man like XXXXX is sleeping with at least three smart, attractive women (because let’s not forget he theoretically also has a GIRLFRIEND).”
In another, three-way e-mail conversation with two other friends, Claire called “John”—a man who did not call her friend S when he said he was going to for like the third time—a “narcissist” and a “jerk” and suggested he “has Asperger’s or something.” The third friend added, “I WANT HIM TO FALL INTO A POOL OF ACID AND BECOME HARVEY DENT TWOFACE.” Intel does not believe that the person actually desired this outcome for John, but that the tough talk is exaggerated because the women are fronting.
Reached for comment, John denied he was a narcissist, a jerk or a sufferer of Asperger’s, and noted that he distanced himself from S because she was “kind of intense.”
Office gripes figure strongly in the correspondence between Claire and her social circle. In March of 2010, after her boss (whose name has been redacted) sent Claire several e-mails she believed to be passive-aggressive, she told her friend said boss could “gobble a dick,” an apparent reference to the Snoop Dogg part of the Dr. Dre song, “Xxplosive.” Indeed, in April 2010, the phrase “gobble a dick” appeared some 35 times in Claire’s correspondence. Also around that time, Claire began receiving e-mails thanking her for expressing an interest in the International Culinary Institute, several area yoga schools, and Herbalife, as well as an application to work as an entertainer on a cruise ship, and once e-mailed herself, with the subject line, “Garbage women — find out how much $$$ they make.” The situation was apparently remedied after Claire received a 3 percent raise in early May 2010, though she continues to receive e-mails from all of the aforementioned companies every single day.
Claire signed up for the online budgeting program Mint.com to help keep track of her finances after reading about it in The New York Times Magazine. Recent missives from the service to Claire include those with subject lines: “Low Balance on ‘TD Bank - VALUE CHECKING’”; “Fee charged to “TD Bank - VALUE CHECKING” and with some frequency, “Exceeded budget for Bars &Restaurants!”
The cache contains all of Claire’s personal photos, including all of the ones in which her arms look fat and in which she appears to have a double chin, as well as the following for which there was no explanation.
Links to YouTube Videos
Claire and her friends send and receive many links to YouTube videos and stuff on the Internet. In fact, it appears to be their primary activity. The most recent received by Claire was this:
Claire’s response: “Lol.”