A Final Thought: A ChatGPT Spring


By Mitch Allen

I did it. I finally did what lazy writers have been doing for months now. I asked ChatGPT to write my column for me. I’m ashamed and embarrassed (my mother raised me better), but also fascinated.

I asked the OpenAI system to write a 600-word essay about spring in Northeast Ohio. Two seconds later, here is the opening paragraph of the first draft:

In Northeast Ohio, spring emerges as a transformative symphony of nature’s renewal, painting the landscape with vibrant hues and melodies of rejuvenation. This region, nestled between the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains, experiences a distinct seasonal shift as winter’s icy grip yields to the gentle embrace of spring.

Good, but too fancy-schmancy, and absent heart. There was, however, one paragraph that showed legit empathy:

As temperatures fluctuate and weather patterns remain unpredictable, residents must navigate the delicate balance between anticipation and uncertainty. April showers, though essential for nourishing the burgeoning flora, can sometimes linger longer than desired, testing the patience of even the most ardent spring enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it is this resilience in the face of adversity that defines the character of Northeast Ohioans, forging bonds as enduring as the seasons themselves.

Yep, that’s us. It’s like he/she/it/they lives here. Then I told he/she/it/they to inject some humor:

And let us not forget the unpredictable weather, that mischievous trickster who delights in keeping us on our toes. One day, we’re basking in the warm embrace of spring sunshine, the next, we’re dodging snowflakes the size of cotton balls, wondering if Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions were lost in translation.

It was the only paragraph even remotely funny. So I wrote back, “Uh, that wasn’t funny at all. Try again.”

And let’s not forget the legendary “Pollen Apocalypse” that descends upon the region like a sneeze-inducing plague, turning cars, sidewalks, and unsuspecting passersby into unwilling participants in a yellow-tinted comedy of errors. It’s like living in a real-life cartoon, where every sneeze sets off a chain reaction of slapstick comedy worthy of the Three Stooges.

I wanted to explain that simply mentioning the Three Stooges does not make something funny, but I moved on:

“Much better! But can you write it in first-person?”

But fear not, because in Northeast Ohio, we’ve mastered the art of finding humor in the absurdity of it all. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve witnessed the great “Snow vs. Sunshine Showdown,” where one moment I’m dusting off my sandals and dreaming of beach vacations, and the next, I’m scrambling to find my winter coat faster than you can say “What happened to spring?”

Then I admonished, “You rely too much on clichés. Can you try one more time without any clichés?”

But amidst the chaos, there’s a sense of resilience that runs deep in the veins of Northeast Ohioans. We may grumble about the weather, but we do so with a knowing smile, recognizing that it’s all part of the rich tapestry of life in this corner of the world. And when the sun finally emerges from behind the clouds, casting its warm embrace upon the land, we revel in the beauty of the moment, knowing that it’s fleeting and precious.

A little formal, yes, but a nice sentiment. Finally, I instructed, “Good, but can you switch from first-person to third-person, referring to a man named Yorick?”

In the heart of Northeast Ohio, as the sun rises over the rolling hills and valleys, a man named Yorick steps outside into a world caught between seasons. The air is crisp with the lingering chill of winter, yet hints of warmth dance upon the breeze, teasing him of the days to come.

Alas, poor Yorick.


Categories: Smart Living