Correcting the opinions of strangers

I have written before about the Nextdoor website that connects people in your neighborhood and enables them to share information, ask for advice, etc. It provides quite an interesting insight into your neighborhood.

But today, I got this message from a resident.

Free · Free fortune reading based on kabbalah and unique techniques

I took advantage of a free fortune reading advertised on Nextdoor and based on the Kabbalah. Just wanted to say to anyone who may be interested in this service (free or otherwise) that the reading was very spot on, and offered a bit of insight for me to further consider. I did not pay for this service (Kabbalah reading) but will be setting an appointment for a fuller reading in the future. This was quite a unique take on the system of numerology.

I of course do not believe in fortune telling. I have written before about the well-known techniques of people who claim to tell fortunes, as well as their ability to con gullible people into believing them. So my initial reaction was to reply to that person saying so. But I desisted.

The reasons for my hesitation was that for one thing, since I have moved to California and this came from the Nextdoor group in Cleveland, I was technically no longer this person’s ‘neighbor’ in the geographic sense. I also had a sneaking suspicion (I am getting more cynical in my old age) based on the way it was written that this message may not be a genuine recommendation but the work of a ‘social media influencer’, the label given to those who exploit the faux-intimacy of social media to advertise products and services without the recipients being aware that they are being advertised to.

Even if the person was not an influencer, I was aware of the issue highlighted by the comic xkcd, that if one tries to correct everything that is wrong on the internet, one can end up down a rabbit hole.

If the person had been a personal friend of mine, I would have replied to her privately. But since she was not, I let it go.

But I do have slight feelings of guilt that yet another fool and their money will soon be parted.

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