Why Its Good to Be a Net Cynic

Since logging onto the internet way back in 1997 I have become increasingly suspicious and cynical of anyone offering me a great deal.

Do you remember the email that was circulated telling us that Bill Gates was tracking its progress and would give a free trip to Disneyland for everyone who forwarded it on?… I don’t know how many times I received that email, from people sending it ‘just in case’. As if…

There are the obvious scams that go straight to ‘spam’ – the Nigerian type where you inherit a gazillion dollars from a person you never met – if you will just send $10000.00 and your bank details… Obviously it works because people have fallen for it and been scammed.

Then there are the less obvious scams and they can be harder to detect. Recently an ad for DIY solar power came up on facebook so I clicked to see what it was about. I was interested…

The ad page looked a familiar – a very long page with lots of testimonials and a book to buy to show you how to make your own solar panels. I then googled ‘Solar Panels Scam’ and discovered what others were saying about this product – and it wasn’t pretty. It was clear that the information wasn’t worth the $40.00 even with the money back ‘guarantee’, but the clincher to tell me it was a scam was the pop-up that flew out at me when I tried to leave the page. ‘Are you sure you want to miss out on a great deal!!!??’ it said (or words similar). Now I was convinced…

Any time you come across a very long page full of testimonials, youtube clips and multicoloured font be careful… very careful…

And google the name of the product alongside the word scam. Chances are you will discover some interesting facts. I was recently surfing and came across another promise of great wealth working from home and doing very little. I picked it as a scam straight up but out of curiosity followed the trail. I discovered the names of the people behind it, googled them and saw that they were actually pyramid selling herbalife. Not illegal at all, but not likely to make anyone (but them) rich in a hurry…

The other sites I reckon it would be easy to get sucked into are the ‘penny auctions’ where you don’t actually purchase a product but you purchase the right to cast a certain number of bids. Again this ad popped up on Facebook and with my aging 4 yr old Sony laptop grunting at me I clicked to see how I could get a new macbook air for $9.99… Did I mention it sounded too good to be true?…

I didn’t see the fine print at first and was casually surfing my way thru the ‘sign up’ screens when I got to the one that wanted some $$. It must have been my cynic reflex kicking in because I googled the site and then discovered a whole bunch of people crying foul because they had paid for ‘bids’ rather than a product. Its legal and the fine print does explain it, but its a reminder how few of us can be bothered reading that stuff.

Whew… I reckon I am pretty net savvy and almost got my butt kicked here.

Then there are the stories we preachers tell – often presented as fact – but once ‘snoped‘ we discover that we have been perpetuating an urban myth… Some are so good they deserve perpetuating, but I never like to present as fact something that is clearly a myth.

Of course there are online casinos where you can easily throw some money away, or if you want to explore a totally different money losing option then google HYIP (High Yield Investment Portfolios) and see how a Ponzi scam works. If you get in early you can make some big money, at the expense of those who get in late just before the pyramid implodes.

I reckon its still as simple as that old saying ‘if it looks too good to be true then it probably is’.

I’m sure there are some great legit deals out there and there are some ways of making $$ quicker than others, but the risk is almost always proportional to the return. If it promises 45% / month then don’t expect to see your money in 6 months time…

Of course to draw this back to my own playing field – churches – its amazing how the internet can make a little ‘mom and pop’ backyard church look like a great grand slicko megachurch simply with some great design. I reckon the real challenge of a church in the internet age is to actually live up to their online presence, so that when people join you they experience what they thought they were going to experience.

Anyway rant over…

As you were.

4 thoughts on “Why Its Good to Be a Net Cynic

  1. Hey Hamo,

    The solar panel one isn’t a scam. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, my friend and his brother started it and have done a few of them one their own houses. I haven’t seen the testimonials or looked at what others have said about it but it’s all legit. Sure, some the “secrets” are a bit corny and I hate the pop up. I asked what the go was with the pop up and he agreed that they suck, but puts them in cos it apparently converts people who would exit into sales more than you’d expect.

  2. BTW, i’m not trying to sell the panels…! I’ve not seen the product they sell but can vouch for the guy – he is super generous and down to earth, and is passionate about ways to live more sustainably.

  3. Churches live up to the on line presence? Nah… live up to what God requires of them….preaching the Gospel with good sound expositional Truths from the inerrant and infallible word of God!

    That’s their purpose…..so God can minister to His people and from their, God’s people can go out and do good works for their neighbours with the fruits of the spirit!

    That’s the real challenge!

  4. I had a phone call from some shonky dude offering lots of holidays ‘all around Aus’ when I was on holiday last year.

    I had some time to kill, so I engaged him, but wouldn’t give email address or CC details.

    I made him call back at a certain time, and guess what – HE DID!! Howe keen is that?!?

    Anyway, I phoned some of the places they were offering me deals to, and these joints had never heard of these sharks, and reckoned it was as dodgy as hell.

    I phoned the Vic Dept of Consumer Affairs (or something like that), which was new for me.

    It’s true… you really do learn something every day!

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