World Wide A##holes
Sadly, the world has always been cram packed to bursting with a##holes. Thanks to the internet, there's now a novel sub-breed of human malignancy--the cyber-a##hole. You've got your flamers, your spammers, your hackers, your hucksters, your identity thieves, and much more.
GET POOR QUICK SCHEMES
One day, my man BG received a peculiar letter with no return address. It hailed from Spain and contained marvelous news. Seems BG had won a "lottery" which offered a prize of exactly $624,532.49. All he had to do was supply a few teensy tidbits of info on his next of kin and what bank to deposit his prize to. His benefactors requested a mere 20 percent cut, which would be duly deducted from his winnings after his account was credited.
Aside from being full of obvious typographical and grammatical gaffes, the letter also served as a shining example of international mail fraud. We took it to the post office post haste, and it was forwarded to the postmaster for further perusal.
Not surprisingly, this same scam is also flourishing in cyberspace. When I was promoting BG's art, one organization apparently sold their artist's mailing lists to various spammers. Several of these fraudulent organizations, always from overseas, periodically sent along offers of a kind almost identical to the snail mail example above. They were always full of egregious typos, and, amazingly enough, always seemed to offer the same unbelieveable opportunity for the recipient. Seems that an incredibly wealthy man had died without a will and his estate was being distributed to complete strangers on the internet. The only requirement, of course, was that the lucky winner supply a few insignificant details, like name of next of kin, bank to send the jackpot to....
CONSPIRACY CYBER-THEORIES AND ARMAGEDDON
BG's mother has some very...unconventional religious ideas. I love her dearly, but she is rather obsessed with the fire and brimstone stuff. She sends us letters brimming with chapter and verse Bible passages, plus some downright fascinating little pamphlets. The latest one warned of an evil worldwide conspiracy. Apparently, it all revolved around the phenomena of "smart cards" and other postmodern conveniences which, they believed, would eventually lead to a totally cashless society. The final step would be to implant every human being with a device under their right hand which would track their every move. This was apparently all foretold in Revelations (where else?)---something about the Mark of the Beast being on everyone's right hand, damnation and hellfire, repent now, etc. etc.
Unlike her other crackpot theories, this one seemed almost believeable. If we promiscuously offer up our social security number to the world via our computer screen, our personal info will soon be as readily available to cyberpimps as a whore's favors. Guard your social security number, we are warned, as jealously as a virgin guards her chastity--particularly on the insatiable, omnivorous web. Once an identity thief has had their way with your number, raping the very core of your being, your life will soon devolve into a neverending Twilight Zone episode with no commercial breaks.
THE TWO PLAGUES OF WEBDOM: VIRUSES AND HACKERS
I have an obsessive attachment to my computer-- BG is forced to compete with Herman, my Powermac, for my devotions. Though not quite as sentient as HAL from 2001, to me Herman is essentially a living thing. Computers can now supply us with sexual gratification, pen pals, plane tickets, and much more info that we ever really needed to know about pinworms and boils and other gross stuff. And like us, computers are vulnerable to nasty viruses that can disrupt their "genetic code" to the very core. And hackers, of course, use their awesome expertise like digital Dr. Moreaus, maniacally pursuing "evil" instead of good.
FLAME ON, A##HOLES!
For a horrifying (I promise!) example of the malignant effects of flaming, consult my last post. It's easier than ever before for angry, sick, disgruntled and malicious individuals with An Agenda to vent with impunity. At the very least, they can definitely ruin your day.
STILL, IT'S ALL GOOD--ALMOST
Though I'm glad to be living in a place and time in history where we can play with all these cool new toys, I have no doubt that the a##holes of the world will forever be with us--both on and offline.