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Internet hucksters of the information age

Many people, including myself, have spoken about the death of sales as we once knew it. The ABC method (Always Be Closing) no longer has the same effect that it once had because people are smarter than that. People, in general, don’t like to be manipulated and the years and years of being burnt have taken their toll. We as a society are too smart to listen to just any sales person and inherently trust what they are saying. We also realize that many times that what’s in the best interest of the salesperson is not in the best interest of the customer. In other words, salespeople sell things that earn commission rather than trust but those days are drawing to a close rapidly.

That is, of course, unless you are talking about the Internet space. While most folks no longer walk into a car dealership without doing research online, they will go to just about any Web site without doing their research and take every word on that site as the gospel truth. They will also get all glassy eyed about any new gadget or service without thinking twice. Why is that?
It’s because of ignorance. Now, please don’t take offense. Ignorance is only bad if you choose to remain ignorant despite having been told the pitfalls of whatever it is you are getting into. Being ignorant is where everyone starts on any subject before they have been taught anything. Ignorance is not bad unless it is allowed to remain. Now, being stupid is another thing altogether and no matter how hard you may try you can’t undo stupid (just ask my wife of 15 years on this one, she’ll testify).
So what is this Internet ignorance? How can such a thing exist in such a technologically advanced society? That’s an easy one. It’s because the commercial Internet is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things (15-20 years depending on who you talk to) and the pace of change is so rapid that it makes even the experts’ heads spin at times. As a result, we are all susceptible to being sold things again just like the days when you went to the car dealer and considered it a good experience if no one died and you didn’t feel dirty when you left the lot.
The Internet is full of new age hucksters and shysters. Many of them are some of the best-known business people in the world. Like who, you ask? Well, based on this week, Steve Jobs may be the epitome of the new age snake oil salesman. Apple spent a lot of effort announcing its iPad (one of the most maligned new toy names in years) and people are standing around with their mouths open in awe. Because it looks cool and neat and shiny (much like a new car), people are clamoring to buy this new toy. But is it really worth the effort?
I have seen more negative press around this most anticipated product than I have seen around most, and it is those in the know that are calling BS on Apple. Why is that? What do you mean? Is Apple trying to pull a fast one? Well, quite possibly, yes. You see, there are many that are wondering what exactly this thing is. Many are saying it’s just an oversized iPod Touch. Revolutionary? Hardly. So why the ruckus about the product? Ignorance. People are ignorant about what it can really do, but because it is being sold so hard, they are buying. Boy, it must seem like the good old days for car sales people and insurance peddlers, huh?
So, what’s the point? The point is that while in many ways we are smarter and more educated than ever, we are also more ignorant than ever. While many herald this as the Information Age, I think the subtitle should be “The Age of Caveat Emptor.” Be careful out there. Someone really wants to sell you something that may not be in your best interest. Imagine that.

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