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TOXIC THOUGHT SYNDROME

"Here's a clever example of a company selling that information. It all started with a little idea in my head. I noticed in the phone book that there were lots of entries for things like "Dr. Johnson's Kids Line". It occurred to me that the text that they print out as the name on the listing has to be potentially different than the billing information. You wouldn't send an invoice to Dr. Johnson's Kids Line, would you?"


01/06/2002

I have found the secret to making money on the Internet. I'm serious. There is a trick to it, and I am one of the select few who know the magical secret.

I'll take a moment while you ponder the wonders I am about to impart unto you...

The secret to making money on the Internet is to send me garbage emails. Oh, I realise that it doesn't make any sense that you would make money by sending me emails, but it has to. The people who do send me email seem to all have large amounts of money on hand (I made a billion dollars last month and YOU CAN TOO!) and their claims are that it is by sending emails to me that they have made this money, so it only makes sense.

That's not to say I'm not a little bothered by this. I recognise that people need to make their money, and some people have a need to make more of it than others, but it is frustrating that I have to read their emails in order to help that along.

You see, I don't have vaginal warts or a need for viagra. I don't really want to make thousands of dollars a month so that I can tell my boss off. And I'm really not interested in online shopping deals.

Spam is what happens when marketing fools become unemployed marketing fools. It's one thing to have these cretins working for our multinational companies where their silly ideas start to make sense, but it's another thing altogether to let them go off alone and start their own business.

Everyone thinks that marketing people are energetic. This is not the case. The company I work for has had a total of seven marketing people, and they were all lazy tits. Now, if you're a lazy tit, the best possible situation would be for you to get paid to do nothing at all.

Enter e-Business. Enter the new paradigm of dynamic marketing potential. Enter a scenario where sleazy marketing shlops can sit at home in their bathrobes, claim to be e-Business Professionals, and get paid to shill garbage to the masses who didn't even ask for it in the first place. It's a match made in e-Heaven

So how does it work? Well, you think up something as close to criminal as you can morally get that will get foolish people to send you money. You then find a means of communicating your scam to as many people as possible. Given that there is a sucker born every minute, some small percentage of the people you spout off too will actually see the value in what you're talking about and give you their money.

So how do you get that information? Well, the good news is that lots of people saw the need to do this, and have started to collect databases of names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and anything else they can use to exploit you. Those databases are for sale, because everything good and proud and American can be bought, including justice and women.

Here's a clever example of a company selling that information. It all started with a little idea in my head. I noticed in the phone book that there were lots of entries for things like "Dr. Johnson's Kids Line". It occurred to me that the text that they print out as the name on the listing has to be potentially different than the billing information. You wouldn't send an invoice to Dr. Johnson's Kids Line, would you?

The next time I had to move and get a new number, I asked the telephone company if I could put anything I wanted in that space, or did it have to be my actual name. They explained that, so long as I had provided the correct billing information, they would put anything I wanted in as the name on the phone listing. At the time, this was appealing because there was a certain former friend that I was trying desperately to send a clear message to, and this was even better than an unlisted number. It was listed, didn't cost me a monthly charge, and was totally impossible to figure out that it was me. I glanced down, saw the cover of a book, and told them to list my name under this obscure English science fiction author.

A few years go by. I enjoy the fringe benefit of not having to deal with telemarketers anymore. People always get choked about being on some list, but nine times out of ten that list is actually the local phone directory. They call up and ask to speak to the aforementioned author. I explain that he doesn't live here any more and hang up. No harm, no foul.

Then a few weeks ago I received marketing information from a Dutch bank that is expanding it's business into my home town. The letter was addressed to the author, but they knew my home address as well. Funny, really, because my home address isn't listed in the phone book.

My local telephone company sold my information to the Dutch bank. Fortunately for them we haven't passed any laws about privacy and information here in Canada, so the sleazes have carte blanche to do as they please with things. At the same time, I have to say that it's just not cool. Maybe they have every legal right to do it, but I always thought that the notion of ethics would prevent such stupid things from happening. Silly me. It would appear the invisible hand is picking the invisible butt right now.

And now it's happening that free software packages are tracking our online movements in an effort to sell complex demographic information about the things that interest us. I'm sure they say that it's all in our best interests, but it's creepy. We don't let government have that much information on us, so why in the hell would we like marketing shitheels to have it? At least the government only rounds people up into death camps. The more detailed demographic information about me that winds up in the hands of the shitheels, the more bloody email I wind up deleting.

So please, all you marketing bastards go back to your jobs with multinationals and leave the Internet to those of us who see it as a free island of media in the maelstrom of controlled thought, as a place where ordinary folk can do extraordinary things, and as a means to insult people like you. Or better yet, why don't you take things one step further and find real, meaningful, spiritually fulfilling work to do instead? Get off the couch, shake the chicken scraps out of your undersized t-shirt and make a freaking difference in the world.







ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Martin is one of those people who can start a sentence with "The problem with democracy is that jerks like you get to vote" and end it with your wanting to be his friend. He hosts a website and has been published by Mob Hit Productions, Images Inscript, House of Pain, Scapegrace, and here at 3am.








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