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Animated GIFs mock MBTA foibles in blog 'The MBTA Ruined My Life'

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  February 4, 2013 04:24 PM

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One selection from the popular blog. Not all its posts are so adorable or family friendly.

As the creator of the increasingly popular blog “The MBTA Ruined My Life,” Ali Wisch is becoming something of a local celebrity. As frustrated commuters turn to Twitter and Tumblr to vent their frustrations and commiserate with others, the animated GIFs Wisch pairs with humorous (and often profane) captions are being shared and re-shared online by riders seeking the release of laughter.

A graduate of Vermont’s Champlain College, Wisch, 27, moved to Boston three years ago when she tired of her post-college life living in northern New Jersey and commuting to an internship at a Brooklyn-based magazine. It was last August, when she moved to Brighton, sold her car, and began a daily commute on the Green Line that the MBTA began to ruin her life.

Ali Wisch.jpg
Jeremy C. Fox for
Ali Wisch.
Q. So you were using public transit daily before you came to Boston?

A. Yes. Even though it was long, it wasn’t that bad. There was never anyone on the train. Even during rush hour, you could always get a seat.

Q. But when you first moved here, you still had a car and didn’t use the T much?

A. I lived in Cambridge and took the Red Line maybe once a month, so I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about.

Q. And after you moved to Brighton, were you having a lot of really negative experiences?

A. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been in any more extenuating circumstances than anyone else. I’ve been on trains that were broken down, and I’ve had the doors not open, and I’ve been late to where I was supposed to get to, like a million times.

Q. So what inspired you to create the blog?

A. I was a writing major [in college], and I’ve done blogging. I really like expressing myself. … There was no particular straw that broke the camel’s back. I was just having a bad morning. People were bumping into me, and I didn’t have anywhere to sit.

Q. What kind of response have you gotten?

A. I was really surprised. I wasn’t a Tumblr user before that. I didn’t know what GIF stood for. But there’s this whole Tumblr community that’s really supportive. … I only showed it to two people at first: my best friend and my boyfriend. And I didn’t tell them at first that I made it. … When I told them, they were like, ‘Wow, you made this?’

Then other people started following, and I wouldn’t say it went viral or anything, but it got a response. And then BostInno did a story on it.

Q. So traffic has been good?

A. Well, I set up Google Analytics, but I was still a newbie and everything, so I didn’t know what traffic was good traffic. But I had that page up on my screen, and a guy in the office walked by and stopped, and he said, ‘Whoa, what is that? You’re really getting a lot of traffic.’

The funny thing is, that wasn’t even a particularly busy time. Typically it has between 200 and 300 people on it at any one time.

And then the other day I was on the Green Line when it broke down. … I was upset until I got to the office and saw that I had about 600 visitors. So now I’m excited when something bad happens on the T.

[Recently] my roommate called and said, ‘Some cement fell from the ceiling on the Orange Line. It’s going to be a good night for your blog.’

Q. Is it hard to keep coming up with new ideas?

A. I definitely have to stretch my imagination a bit. Not everything that I make a GIF for is something that’s actually happened to me. I also look at transit systems in other cities for inspiration, and I don’t just look at the negative things. …

I just want to be able to entertain people and be able to laugh at the [bad] things that happen in everyday life. … I don’t want it to be too political, but … the way the public transit system is now is not sustainable and it shouldn’t be the norm. There’s a reason why so many people like this blog and it’s called ‘The MBTA Ruined My Life.’

This interview has been edited and condensed. To visit Wisch’s blog — which has images and captions some may find objectionable — click here.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
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