The Yellow Brick Road to Digital Wasteland and Thievery
By Vincent C. Towerpast
THE GLOBAL VILLAGE – Imagine driving your sporty exotic car with a souped-up engine, a GT code listed on its chassis to make it more impressive to your friends and all of the flashy accessories you were “advised” to get from every trendy pimp-your-ride magazine and motor-madness guru.
You have spent a ton of money on the vehicle of your dreams in the hopes of gaining prestige; boosting your economic status to fit in with the bourgeoisie class and/or just simply, you have spent your hard-earned dollars to cruise down the town strip to attract Baywatch beach babes.
Key in the ignition. Press on the clutch. And suddenly … Holy mechanical failures batman. You’ve bought a lemon.
So begins the search for a “good” mechanic. White Pages. Yellow Pages. Black Pages (The secret society members who live in ivory towers and have magic fingers that resemble Edward Scissorhands). You try to find someone to get your dream machine on the road and hear about a guy who knows another guy who heard about another guy named Ralph.
Meet the technical wizard
Thirty-something, scruffy beard and he mumbles a few words in English, many words in doublespeak and he has an endless vocabulary of techno-speak. He claims to be Neo.
Before he pops open the hood of your car, he spots that the colour of your car is wrong. A creamy off-white to raspberry red is needed. Expensive. But Neo-Ralph says your beast of a machine must be updated to be suitable for the yellow brick road. The troubleshooting action plan must be placed into immediate effect with a GDPR code before the wicked witch of the west hacks into your engine parts and steals your red-raspberry shoes. And now you worry that the time and money you have spent so far has been in vain.
You still stand hesitant and not convinced so Neo-Ralph starts to explain to you the history of car making. He makes a convincing speech about the invention of the wheel and how new calculations and logarithms are upon the horizon. He then pulls out a magic pen and dazzles you with formulas and codes that only a few privileged people could understand.
So in the goodness and kindness of his heart, he adds you on to his newsletter list. Free at first. But with a small fee, you can get all of the juicy info on the latest car parts available on Amazon.
Stupid and ashamed, you feel like a complete idiot and moron in front of Neo-Ralph. You watch in awe as he pours down his magic formula in your gas tank. It smells like petrol but he assures you there are elements that are above and beyond the simple periodic table.
Neo-Ralph then hands you over a whopping bill. Three times more than expected plus tax.
You, the techno-peasant, get in your car and head for “home.” You smile and realize you have always had a heart, a brain and courage. You drive your car for a couple of blocks before the engine conks out and find yourself alone and abandoned. And Neo-Ralph’s telephone number has this strange message:
“We’re sorry. The number you have dialed is no longer available.”
Of course, we hope any mechanic who operated in such an unscrupulous way would soon find himself or her herself out of business. Word gets around. Especially in a small town.
That is why snake oil salesmen find businesses where they are able to scale their affairs endlessly and easily without control checks. Here are some match-stick professions to be wary of: actors, advertising and marketing agencies, bloggers, European bureaucrats, business entrepreneurs, computer technicians, dentists, doctors, journalists, Hollywood producers, lawyers, models, personal life coaches, preachers, private language schools, professors, real estate agencies, social media managers, travel agents, YouTubers and last but not least — politicians.
Suggestion: Get a dog named Toto who knows how to pull back the curtain on scammers. And/or, learn to do it yourself.
Feel free to comment and send me your personal horror and tragic stories.