Thursday, July 03, 2014

Scams & cuddles – all the lonely people, where do they come from?

Interesting piece by the ABC’s Felicity Sheppard Scams: Trickling into the mobile phones, email accounts and personal lives of Australians.

We have all experienced them. They really are a persistent bunch. It’s pretty easy to spot and ignore most. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for those caught, for example, by variants of the Nigerian letter scam. The offers made are generally obvious breaches of the law, although the charity scam is a new variant.

The really dangerous ones are those that take place within an apparently safe environment. The romance scams are an example. One can safely ignore those unsolicited remarkable offers that come from a variety of Russian ladies. Are there equivalent offers for women from good looking Russian men, or is this scam a particular male thing?

The big danger lies in the operation of con artists within the dating sites. Lonely women appear to be specially vulnerable, although there have been enough male cases to suggest that all lonely people are vulnerable.

Dating sites have really exploded in recent years. Is it just technology capturing an existing need, or have western societies actually become lonelier places? This is from the Beatles.

My personal view is that the world has become a lonelier and more fragmented place despite the linkages offered by the new technology. People need physical interaction.

Some years after the death of her husband, an Aunt said to me that the thing she most missed was the loss of cuddles. Her husband, she said, had been a very good cuddler!

I think that this need for cuddles, to hold, is central to the romance scams. Even where a person has considerable interaction with others, the need remains. People will go to considerable lengths to meet that need.

Security is a related need. This is often expressed in economic terms, but emotional linkages are more important. The local histories and memoirs that I am presently reading highlight this. In the big emotional events, the death of a child or partner, people are always there. They are there,  too, for the small daily events, a cup of tea and a chat. The people who are alone, who die alone, are recognised or commented on by exception.

I think that this is less true today. People’s needs for emotional security and for cuddles makes them vulnerable to the emotional scammers able to play on that need. The result is heartbreak on one side, considerable profit on the other.   


Anonymous said...

Very much identify with your aunt, Jim. I hope she found some partial replacement for something which is taken largely for granted - until it is lost forever.

One of my employees told me yesterday that she's had a final resolution on the matter of her recently deceased father's $18,000 infatuation with a South African based scammer.

i.e. his estate has now been told he's lost the lot.


Jim Belshaw said...

She had lots of friends and family, kvd, but it wasn't the same. As you know.

Evan said...

I think we are more fragmented now. And technology exacerbates this and helps us cope with it.

We can watch different channels on our computers and communicate by text.

I've heard that loneliness is estimated to be as bad for us as smoking. I think it was a study I read on a news aggregator. I find it easy to believe.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about loneliness, to me it is often a frame of mind and a matter of choice. If we are prepared to go out of our shells and open to contacts with people through charity, clubs, associations, stretch our arms to hug a friend, a child or somebody sad we do not feel lonely.
Scams of dating sites happen, life happens in many ways.


Rummuser said...

I couldn't agree more. Even over here where we are supposedly more family oriented, urban living and two income households being the norm, the older generation on the one end of the spectrum and the young at the other, are denied time by the middle and loneliness creeps in. Some tackle this through spirituality and there are vibrant senior citizen communities coming up to provide some solace and for the young, some remarkable attachments with spiritual leaders is taking the place of family bonding!

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi all. Sorry for the delay in responding.

Evan, technology does both help and hinder! I agree that loneliness can be bad for your health. It's not pleasant.

AC, good to see you and Ramana in agreement! There are things that people can/do do. However, some find this difficult; it's more difficult in a fragmented society; and people also want that special closeness that comes with relationships.