The Great Con

by: Art Rosch1

Frustration mounts, in a life spent besieged by lies, exaggerations and slick tricks…..

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How could I be so stupid? It’s a question I ask myself with regularity.

Today, the question had its origin in making a rookie mistake while shopping online for car insurance. I was filling out a questionnaire. I knew I was setting myself up for trouble. I hesitated, but eventually I put aside my intuition and answered the questions. What kind of car do you have? What make and model? What year? How many miles do you drive in a month? What’s your name? Date of birth? Etcetera, etcetera.

We’re with AAA in my household and we’re not getting mugged. The rates are reasonable. I guess I crumbled under the accumulating pressure of all those commercials, you know? The ones that tell you how much money you can save in less than fifteen seconds?

How could I be so stupid? I hadn’t even completed filling out the long-winded form when my new smartphone played its cheerful marimba melody. It was a caller from my own area code, so I answered.

There was an insurance salesperson on the other end of the line. I had just pressed “SUBMIT” on the online form, and no more than half a second had passed. After that the calls calls began. In five minutes I had five calls. The computer server that acts as uber-flypaper for naive insurance shoppers like me had relayed the fact that I was price-comparing automobile insurance.

Now, listen here….we live in a world of slick cons, tricky subterfuges, hidden fees and marketing mendacity. The Internet has enabled an army of predatory sales-drones to gather in one mighty fortress. Their armies sally forth to lay siege to our fragile world of shrinking incomes. Their weapons of lies, exaggerations and slick tricks are armed and ready. They rain down their trickery and subterfuge upon us like a hail of arrows. The only shield we have is common sense, vigilance and experience.

I just had an experience. Henceforth, I will treat all online information forms like Ebola bacilli. They’re not here to make us wiser, wealthier or healthier. They’re here to strip us to our last dime.

I’ve noticed lately that the button on my new smartphone, the “REJECT CALL” button, is harder to activate than the green button that accepts the incoming projectile. I swipe in five directions. I tap it once. Twice. Three times. I tap-and-swipe and the ring-tone continues its maddening marimba until finally, I locate, purely by accident, the only finger sequence that rejects an incoming missile sales-call.

Excuse me for just a second, my smartphone is burbling the marimba again at me. I’ve had the thing a week. I’ve figured out a fraction of its capabilities. I turned off the Data icon. I don’t need a phone to hook me up to the Internet. I don’t need my email on my phone. I’ve got it right here on a high-speed, Broadband-equipped desktop computer. My email is ninety-nine percent junk, anyway.

I got this phone to save money. I’ve been getting robbed blind by AT&T. I use my phone two or three times a week. I don’t text. So I purchased a Tracfone. It’s a prepaid deal at a fixed price. Phone minutes, text minutes and data minutes, all at a fixed price. I am not APP-crazy. I installed one APP, a gizmo that reports and analyzes my minutes, text and data. Guess what? My data was getting used up faster than its brothers and sisters. So I must research a fundamental question: What is data?

It’s internet stuff. It’s email, videos, chat, it’s….it’s Google! Omygod, Google is in control of my smartphone! Google is an empire. It’s like the oncoming Janissaries of the Ottoman juggernaut but it’s today! and it’s in control of everything. It beams Data through my App, whether or not I want it!

I don’t trust my phone. What kind of world are we living in? Everywhere I go, people are umbilically attached to these plastic rectangles. They’re either looking down at it adoringly, or they have it pressed to their ear as if it’s a lover bestowing a kiss.

I don’t trust my phone. And neither should you.

  1. Header Art is the work of the incomparable French artist OakOak. []
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1 Comment

  • I love your descriptions!

    “Their weapons of lies, exaggerations and slick tricks are armed and ready. They rain down their trickery and subterfuge upon us like a hail of arrows.” Fabulous!

    I totally agree with your decision, though. Neither do I use it for surfing, unless I’m not at home and need to find something I think can’t wait. Even then, I treat it with the same ideals as going into a grocery store; get in, and get back out. No dawdling. (I also keep the built-in camera on my laptop covered.)

    Are we a bit paranoid? Perhaps, but the state of things has made us that way.

    Thanks for this entertaining read!
    — John

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