Traditional con men do their work one person at a time. It’s a laborious process, earning trust and the benefit of the doubt before ultimately ripping someone off.
Toward the end of my dad’s life, shameless/shameful phone salespeople did just this and stole his trust, his time and his money.
Like most things, industrialists want to do it faster and bigger.
Scammy direct mail used to be obvious even at a distance. The labels, the stamps, the typography–it all signaled that this wasn’t personal.
And the occasional phone salesperson, calling from a boiler room–we could tell.
Now, as data acquisition continues to scale and become ever more granular, the hustle is getting more personal.
It’s in an uncanny valley–almost real, but not quite. And of course, the distance keeps getting shorter.
So the mail merge, the phone spam, the faux intimacy of a stranger. They continue to blur the lines between personal and personalized.
The end result is going to be a shrinking of our previously-widening circle of trust.
The benefit of the doubt is priceless. I have no patience for people who want to take it away from us.