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Are You OK, Dr. Phil?

The 80’s was the decade of slogans. From Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” to “Grody to the Max” (thanks Moon Unit Zappa) to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug crusade, we 80’s kids had a word grouping for everything under the sun. Even the United States Post Office jumped on the band wagon. After a rash of work from home newspaper ads had half the country sending in $59.95, you know, for the training booklet for that envelope stuffing side hustle that’s gonna let you retire early, the powers that be were starting to panic at just how easy it seemed for fraudsters to get hard working Americans to fork over money. Things hit a fever pitch when the golden child of get rich quickness, Publisher’s Clearing House, developed a doppelganger. Seems someone posing as the magazine sales juggernaut was sending out fake letters to winners. They’d win, that is, if they sent a check in for the taxes on that 2.4 million prize. Have we lost all the millennials now? Hang in their kids. I’ll loop you back in shortly. People were falling for false ads faster than you could say “like totally” and using the USPS to gift the crooks with their life savings. What to do? Enter the post office’s version of a catch phrase. “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

In the 80’s, if we saw it printed in the back of a magazine, it had to be true. Of course the girl in the ad really used that device and increased her bust size overnight. It’s fact. Clearly those pants that attach to my vacuum cleaner will suck 15 lbs off of me overnight. If it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t let them say it, right? My point here, before I dive into the world of the internet, is to say that, as a people we’re naïve and there is always someone who knows that lying in wait. There were snake oil peddlers in the old west and real estate charlatans in the 50’s. We had stock market swindlers in the 70’s & the Nigerian prince email scams of the 90’s. But, that was all before social media. It is different now. These days, there’s literally no one left to trust.


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