Selling Your Conscience For A Buck

Lesson number: 

A common path involving stress and leading to depression can occur by having to live with one's own conscience. The dictionary describes the noun conscience as:

Conformity to one's own sense of right conduct

A feeling of shame when you do something immoral

Motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person's thoughts and actions

Can it be any wonder then, that if an individual chooses to engage in money making schemes that injure or infringe on others, that they will probably suffer from some maladies of conscience?

This lesson was inspired by the rampant, despicable wave of spam that has virtually taken over the process of e-mail. According to trade publications, spam now accounts for 90% of all e-mails. The estimated number of e-mails sent daily in 2007 is 80 billion, with spam accounting for 72 billion of those each and every day. This trend is obviously motivated by several key factors. The first factor relates to FREE access. Not only can spammers obtain free e-mail addresses from yahoo, g-mail or hundreds of other e-mail providers; it's also FREE to send one or five million spam messages every single day, to individuals like you and me. Unfortunately whenever anything is absolutely free, there will always be people standing in line to abuse this freedom.

A second factor that propagates spam is a lack of conscience of e-mail providers. I have created over 1000 filters with my e-mail account, in an effort to curb the spam in my files. Recently I noticed common names like [email protected] or [email protected] infiltrating my e-mail box with nasty spam. I took the time to compile and send to Yahoo a very long list of common names containing spam and ending with Every name imaginable with this extension was spamming me. I asked for a response as to how this can happen and they did not even have the courtesy to respond. They just accept this practice and allow this spam to spread like a disease.

A third factor that enables spam to exist relates to pay per click advertising. Spammers choose links to words that Google, Yahoo and MSN pay to have people click on. Advertisers are being duped by spammers whose efforts are definitely motivated by making a quick buck with very little effort. This is one of the greatest scams on the internet. With all the technology that exists today, I believe that Google and Yahoo are not vigilant enough regarding their ad businesses. To better serve both advertisers and the general public who rely on the internet, they need to insure that compensation checks are never issued to spammers and scammers under any circumstances.

However the scams of pay per click has no limits and is goes far beyond spammers. Recently I read an article in Business 2.0 (A Time Warner Publication) that touted the title "The Man Who Owns The Internet." If you want a clear example of individuals who get rich by providing little service to society, you need to click and read this article. Keep in mind that I am all for capitalism and believe that everyone has a right to earn as much as they can legitimately. However you can only stretch the word legitimate so far, before it snaps and breaks like a rubber band and hurts everyone around them.

In summary, the questions for this lesson are "should we treat each other as though we are in a free-for-all fight for existence?" "Should making a buck trump our conscience and disregard our sense of right from wrong?" And finally "are there any limits to foregoing certain types of behavior in pursuit of chasing a buck?"

I'm not sure how spammers and scammers sleep at night as they propagate the web with infested e-mails that make others disgusted and unhappy. Perhaps the money they make helps them to justify their actions. Or perhaps their actions lead to their own insecurities and depressions that scammed money cannot cure. One thing is for sure. Without the help of companies like Yahoo, Google and MSN, there's not much that can be done about the spam and scam problems that can overshadow all the good on the Internet. These companies need to show some moral character and their executives need to show the leadership it will take to solve these problems. They need to let their conscience be their guide rather than profits. They must police their own policies better or perhaps suffer the consequences of watching their own business models deteriorate before their very eyes. We really can't count on the government to help us. We all need to individually let our conscience be our guide in order to make the right decisions regarding making a buck at the peril of others. Money should never trump good judgment, if you strive for peace of mind and true happiness in life.