The one thing I've learned in my years as an Answer Guy is that a lot of people are anxious to appear less conniving, less sneaky, less dishonest than they actually are. Were they actually good at it, they might be able to pass themselves off as normal people, but the sociopathy is always there, hidden well, or sometimes hidden not so well.

Let us not confuse these people with the merely stupid, the ones who ask questions that can't be answered without a whole lot more data. A 16-year-old will ask "I'm getting a car next week. How much will my insurance be?" I used to try to make them comprehend the issues involved in obtaining an insurance quote: "We'll need your name and address, a description of the motor vehicle, and a copy of your driving record." And invariably they respond as though Cthulhu had asked for a bone-marrow transplant. Call an insurance agent? They wouldn't dare; the agent will ask questions that they're too dumb to know, and worse, the agent will call them back. For people who have been imprinted with the advice "Don't ever give out your phone number," this is the most unheard-of thing they ever heard of.

Related to those: people who give out fake email addresses and/or phone numbers when a site requests them, and then they come up empty when the site begins to demand two-facfor identification. "What do I do?" they wail. I can't even be bothered by these people anymore, and "Stay the hell off Facebook," the most rational response, turns their anger — not at themselves, for doing something stupid, but at me, for suggesting that they did something stupid — up to eleven. Sometimes twelve.

"I know!" they finally decide. "I'll just make a new account." So they make a new account, Facebook blocks it within the hour, and the cycle repeats. In vain will you explain to them that the Zuckerborg Collective doesn't permit that sort of thing, and if they don't lapse into repeating themselves a dozen times over, they fall back on "But it's not fair!" Um, you messed up and now you're paying the penalty? That's the very definition of "fair."

Social media are also cluttered up with people who really should not be dating. You can spot them when they request some sort of application "to see who looks at my girlfriend's profile." Lots of apps claim this capability, but they don't actually work, and most of them seem to exist primarily as a malware-distribution mechanism. Occasionally they escalate the stakes: they ask for a method of hacking her account, or a connection to someone who can. The fact that she doesn't have a way to see who looks at her profile doesn't enter into the discussion at all.

Despairingly, I turn to the financials, and what do I find? "I have a debit card. How do I find the CVV online?" You hardly need to go on line for that; all you have to do is turn the card over. (If ir's American Express, you don't even need to do that: it's right there on the front.) We conclude, therefore, that you don't actually have a debit card; you have someone's card number, probably stolen, and you want to spend all that someone's money. They'll be back in a couple of days with a new twist on the same old story.

No, we can't tell you exactly how much money you saved by buying a Tesla instead of — oh, that's right, you didn't tell us what your second choice was. And any question that begins "I've been hearing that..." is predicated on the notion that two half-truths equal one actual truth. The dumbening of the species accelerates every year.

The Vent

  1 April 2019

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