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Culture on Demand: Scams and Worse Online
Is Net fatigue setting in?

April 15, 2000
Web posted at 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, 7 p.m. EDT

I don't believe anything anymore.

I'm convinced that Net fatigue is about to set in. The newness has worn off, it's not so shiny anymore and if direct marketing e-mail keeps growing at the rate it is currently, I'm going to reach a point where I'm afraid to turn on my laptop for fear of drowning in special offers for modems and flowers.

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Market Q&A
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The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

From Our Correspondent
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There is a lot of really dumb stuff out there. First and foremost on my dumb list are the Nokia and Ericsson WAP e-mails currently circulating. The letters, purportedly from the telecom giants' respective marketing directors ensconced in the coldest wilds of Scandinavia, offer free WAP phones to readers if they are the first to reply to all their friends and cc: the original sender at the company, with their fake Ericsson or Nokia address.

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Yeah. Sure. Maybe it is possible to sell ice to Eskimos.

I hope those marketing directors don't actually exist, because the volume of mail they must have received by now from people asking for their phone would be titanic. The volume of accidental reply-alls asking for the phone has been! So hello amigos, no free phones folks, haven't we learned this by now?

More on e-mail... if I get one more Blue Mountain greeting card, even if sent by a friend with good intentions, I promise to refuse to feel guilty if I don't log on to retrieve it. Not even the unemployed have time to wait for such things to download.

Same with forwarded jokes and notices about Asian online yard sales. Direct marketers, take me off your list! Actually, don't bother, I have that new Block Sender function -- which is like my new best friend and bodyguard, filtering out all the riff raff.

And then there are the world's worst, least appealing sites... tops the list. This ranking of people with the world's worst hair cuts is enough to make anyone cringe. Mullets, by the way, are those haircuts that you often see in rural areas or trailer parks, short on top and long in the back. Fortunately Asia is a dignified place so many of you only see these types of haircuts when you are vacationing in American places like Las Vegas. But in the U.S. it appears that men, women, children and pets of all ages enjoy looking like they got hit by a weedeater. Never mind that Gucci used the look last season -- it was just a stunt.

In another sign that the web has something for everybody, there is the new Sushi Fortune Telling site. Pick five pieces of sushi from the revolving tray and click once to get your fortune in love, money, career, family and wishes.

It says I'm naive and fall in love easily. Stay away from the ebi.

There's, which offers new ways to distract yourself with access to the first stalker site that I know of, I don't know who thought it might be a good idea to glamorize such an issue, but if you're going to stalk someone, at least make sure she's cute! Julie, unfortunately, is not. Fortunately the intrepid surfer is informed that Julie is not in any danger and that it's all fiction.

That's good, but the whole concept is a bit unsettling. And I don't think freaks read the disclaimers.

I guess my bottom line here is that entertainment-wise, and even sometimes information-wise, I don't believe much I see on the Net anymore. We're growing tired and cynical. Nothing is free. Everything is over-hyped. All that real world stuff, from africams to stalkers, just doesn't do it anymore. Maybe brand IS everything.

That's a bummer. I bet when we discover God/Buddha/Allah on the Internet we'll probably decide it's a hoax, but still forward the information to our 10 closest friends in the hope of eternal peace and a free cellular connection.

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