Internuts: they’re out there

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I love the internet.

Yes, I know love is one of those incredibly overused words like munted (someone’s been complaining about it on the Trade Me message board so it must be true), seriously (Grey’s Anatomy, you have a lot to answer for), literally, hate and the other one that has been so overused our editor has banned it so I’m not allowed to tell you what it is.

StraightJacketBut I digress. I love the internet for many reasons, but the main one is that so many people feel compelled to fly their freak flags and embrace their, ahem, quirks when online. (In case you didn’t get it, that was me trying to find a nicer way of saying the internet’s full of nutters).

I used to be a little taken aback by the number of homegrown Kiwi net-nutters there were but now I simply marvel at all they have to offer.

Especially on the Trade Me message board.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the board is full of special Kiwis, but there are quite a few. I mostly ignore their threads and posts (they are usually easy to spot by the titles they use, with lots of exclamation marks) because the message boards are a great little community and there are some really interesting discussions taking place there every day.

It’s sort of like talkback radio, without sound. And, like talkback radio, there are always going to be a few slightly less middle-of-the-road discussions.

My favourite one this week on the Trade Me message board was a post asking how to get a book banned from a school library. Because I guess it’s been decades since we had a good, old-fashioned book burning, and did I mention it was a Joy Cowley book? Yes, Joy Cowley. They’ll be wanting to ban Dr Seuss next.

I’m also always amazed by the number of people who don’t know the name of our prime minister.

I’ve been keeping a running tally of threads with his name in the title and so far 23 have his name as Key, 19 as Keys.

Is New Zealand the only country in the world where nearly half the population doesn’t know the name of its leader?

As I’m sure you all know, there are scammers everywhere out there trying to steal your cash.

And I’m sure you all know by now about the various fake bank/Trade Me/eBay emails that do the rounds telling you to reconfirm your login details or you account will be suspended.

phoneoldAnd I’m sure you are all intelligent enough not to fall for it.

I’m also sure you are all aware of the “this is Microsoft, you have a computer virus so please give us remote access to your computer” phonecall and won’t fall for that one either.

However, I got a new one last week and since then have had a further two calls along the same lines.

In all three cases, the caller told me how lucky I was that they were phoning on behalf of my bank, that I’d been overcharged for fees during the past few years and was due a refund of nearly $3000. I just had to supply my credit card number so they could organise the refund.

The first call, I said I didn’t have a credit card but since he was calling on behalf of my bank could he organise one for me. Or better still, could I use his? He hung up.

The second call, the very next day, I told him he’d called a psychic pet chat line and asked for his credit card number. He hung up, too.

The third call, I just said a whole bunch of rude things to the bloke that I can’t repeat here, this being a family newspaper and all. But it was therapeutic.


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