One of the important side effects of the communications revolution is the proliferation of grifters, con men and hustlers. Things that were impossible thirty years ago, like e-mail scams, remain a constant problem. The internet has made it easy for even the crudest hustlers to reach a broad audience. As a result, the number of hustlers has increased and the types of hustles have also increased. The twitter troll, for example, is an entirely new type of hustle, made possible by the internet.
One reason for this is that the internet has turned into a big stage where anyone can try out their act on the public. In the old days, a carny bimbo would have been confined to a traveling carnival, Hollywood, New York or community theater. Maybe she would have ended up in pornography. It was not an easy way to make a living. Today, she can have a twitter account where she flashes photo-shopped pics of herself. Thirsty losers send her money through PayPal or super chats on her YouTube channel.
The low barrier to entry means every female with a desire for the carny life can get on stage from the privacy of her studio apartment. It’s not just females working the new rackets. In a prior age, Mike Cernovich would have been traveling from town to town selling his monkey mind juice to gullible townies at state fairs. Alex Jones would have been mailing people his mimeographed newsletter, where he explained how space aliens control the Federal Reserve Bank.
Most likely, it is the communications revolution that has caused the news media to commit suicide. In the old days, when the audience was fixed, the focus was on maintaining the facade of objectivity. No one was under any illusions about growing the audience, so they focused on keeping the audience. The internet promised a global market and unlimited market share. A relentless drive for eyeballs gave rise to the clickbait journalists turning the media into fake news.
The thing is though, the basics of the confidence game have not changed all that much with the new technology. The confidence man gets his name because he is adept at winning the confidence of the mark. The mark then lowers his defenses and foolishly trusts the con man, rather than his own natural skepticism. The mark is manipulated into thinking the con man is a friend or at least someone who can be trusted. The con man then uses that trust to exploit the mark.
The way in which the con men does this is by flattery. The mark trusts the con man, because the con man finds small ways to confirm the beliefs of the mark. The adept grifter will be a good listener and pick up the little things that the mark thinks are important, like religious beliefs or opinions about personal matters. Seemingly out of the blue, the con man will express those same opinions, which flatters the mark. After all, everyone likes being told that their private opinions are smart.
That’s something you see with the internet grifters. They often have worn a lot of masks as they seek out on-line audiences. Mike Cernovich is the obvious example. He was a sexual deviant, then he was into the man-o-sphere stuff. He was alt-right and then it was alt-light and Trump . After Trump won, he morphed into new media, claiming to have White House connections. Now he is a guy hustling supplements. He works a lot of hustles, because he is always looking for a new crowd to flatter.
Another aspect of the con that remains constant is how the con man uses his alleged status as a victim to work the mark. Con men will use their mark’s natural empathy to win their confidence. Today that often means claiming the big bad tech companies are censoring them. Alternatively, they will claim evil trolls are haunting their internet activity, causing them harm. The term troll has been changed from meaning someone seeking attention to something almost supernatural.
This is a favorite of the Left. They know their audience wants to believe they are in an end of days struggle with dark forces. Like the old circuit preachers, who would pretend to be wrestling with Old Scratch, the left-wing grifter claims to be in a holy war with right-wing trolls. The game is to portray themselves as a victim, as people naturally sympathize with victims. This scam allows the left-wing grifter to shift the focus from her con to the alleged evil doer.
That’s something else you see with the new con men of the internet. Like the old school con men, they really do see themselves as victims. That’s why they get so man angry when they are caught or even accused. Think back to Bill Clinton in his deposition with Ken Starr. When he was pinned down, he got mad, not because he was caught, but because he truly felt he was being persecuted. What allows the grifter to operate is the persecution complex. They think they are the righteous.
In the before times, society made an effort to police the con men. City police departments had “bunco squads” that worked confidence swindles. The point was to both tamp down these rackets, but also maintain public confidence. Society is based in social trust and the confidence man erodes social trust. We no longer have bunco squads and the grifters are running wild on new media. One result of that is the sharp decline in social trust. Carnies and con men rule the day.
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