Times are desperate for young people in today’s economy with the ever-widening wealth gap. Many of these people are underemployed in jobs they don’t enjoy and are looking for better options. And it’s in these times that those who are out looking to make quick cash are either scheming others or being schemed themselves. And it’s not just money. For almost anything that people may desire, you can also bet that there are several individuals out there thinking of ways to make cash out it.
The first thing to note is that these money-making schemes are not all necessarily ‘scams’. Some of them may actually offer something of value, but may not worth the price. For example, many multi-level marketing and its variations may lead to great wealth for the few, but it’s an unsustainable business model aimed at naive people who are lured by the promises of great wealth. The point is that the line between scams and legitimate businesses has been blurred so much that we are barely to tell the difference between the two anymore.
Wherever you go, you’ll see these money-making schemes everywhere—especially online. I myself have had, on two separate occasions, well-dressed individuals come to see me to try to charm me into their pyramid schemes. I had also bought several products online that I later regretted as they provided far less value than what I paid for. The way these individuals operate is simple: They first identify your problem or inspire a desire, then they offer a solution to be sold for a price that matches your enthusiasm. As our modern society is rife with discontentment, there are endless amount of products out in the market that offer solutions to each and every problem that prevents a person from living a ‘perfect’ life.
While it’s often difficult to predict how genuinely useful a product will be, you can make better purchasing decisions by being aware of the following methods that are used to lure you into making purchases.
Target pain points and insecurities
Pain points are areas of your life that you feel most insecure about that are vulnerable to exploitation. These are usually some of our most basic desires that originate from our fears and pains. For example, money for those who are financially struggling, love and sex for the lonely, and happiness for those who live an unfulfilling life. They will usually go about asking you questions along the lines of “Do you want to continue working at your low-paid job?” “Do you want to continue being single?” It’s shameful that they would target people’s weaknesses in such manner, but these schemers just shrug and convince themselves that they’re merely “helping”
Show how awesome their lives are in comparison to everyone else
We live in a status obsessed society. We constantly compare ourselves to others automatically and the money-making schemers are fully aware of our petty nature. It doesn’t matter whether these people earned their money selling legitimate products of value or not. The point is that they are using it as a leverage to convince you that you too can achieve what they have if you just do what they tell you to do and buy their products.
As an example, without naming the person or his website, there is one popular blogger who loves to flamboyantly promote himself and likes to call others with real jobs losers. His readers, both enticed by the idea of living the high-life like the blogger and not wanting to be the ‘loser’, would become completely sold. The blogger is able to sell massive amounts of books and other products this way.
Stir up people’s emotions
No matter how intelligent some individuals think they are, we are all driven by our emotions. It’s especially important in money-making schemes to override an individual’s ability to think rationally by having them feel excited and ‘fired-up’. You will have noticed that the previous two methods also work by targeting people’s emotions.
One of the most common methods is to ‘motivate’ you by using rousing words to temporarily inflate your ego and to use that window of time to convince you to make an impulsive purchase.
Some may even go further and hook you with their system of belief. To this end, they will take their time to groom your mind by offering unrequited services until you are deeply invested in them. Once you are considered one of them, they will be able to easily milk you for all your worth.
Other than being aware of these methods, there are preventive measures you could take to have yourself from buyer’s remorse:
- Ask questions and do your own research before buying the product.
- Give yourself time to think before all your purchases.
- Always think long-term.
- Think rationally as to whether the product will bring value to your life or not.
- Don’t let emotions override you.
- Be practical; don’t buy for status.
- If you notice that the seller is not being honest about his intentions, disengage immediately.
- If the products you are continuing to buy aren’t helping you, you should focus on changing yourself first.
The last point is critical. We must be aware that it’s our society’s function to continually feed us with insecurity and discontentment. If everyone suddenly became satisfied with their lives and was content with just having their basic needs met, the entire consumerist system would come crashing down. The System needs us to focus on our flaws and lacks to persist. Ask yourself: How much stuff do you actually need to be happy?
It is the Primalist philosophy that a man does not need much to be content in his life; he merely needs to honour his primal nature. Unfortunately, our society makes it difficult to be disengaged from all the negative influences that breed discontentment from within.
Instead of endlessly seeking things to fill the void of your discontentment, try to be content first. Don’t embark on a self-improvement spree to free yourself from discontentment, but work on being content with what you have. Once you are content with your current situation, then it will be easier for you to start working on building your life. That way, you will be living your life on the basis of growth and exploration instead of fear and insecurity.