15 Mar 2015

Fear about email links?

Over the last two years I’ve been tracking the behaviour of some of my closer contacts on a particular issue.

On occasions I would have sent them material that I thought would have been of interest to them. Some of my e-correspondence (emails, forum posts, text (sms), and chat messages e.g. WhatsApp) have contained BITLY links. These are hyperlinks that shorten long web addresses. They are called short-links. There were a number of reasons for sending bitly links.

  1. The links are only about 10 characters instead of say 30 or 40.
  2. Short-links use up less space if sending text messages and make it easier to redistribute.
  3. I could track how many times those links were hit by those I had sent them to or if they sent them on to others. (Don’t be stupid: I wouldn’t know who exactly clicked the short-link but because I created it, I would know that that particular link I sent was clicked, and how many times – even if redistributed. So I’m not invading anybody’s privacy.)

fearOn a handful off occasions my contacts have responded, “Is that a virus link?” Or ‘I was scared to click it so I didn’t’. I mean these are people who know me; people of above average cognitive status.. So why the devil would I want to send them a link to some virus or some other nefarious activity? And that right there is the disconnect between cognition and emotion. They know it’s me but their emotions are saying ‘This could be some sort of spam or fake email from him, I dare not click this else the world may blow up and I with it’. Well yes – emotions don’t actually say anything – they’re silent things that have no real language in a form of words.

The results of my study give me an estimate that of publicly and privately distributed shortlinks, the hit rate is very small compared to my expectation. So if I would have expected 10 hits over 1 week, I’d only get about 2.

Of course there are a zillion other reasons why people don’t hit these links as frequently as I might have expected.  And naysayers would argue:

  1. They actually don’t like you or your junk.
  2. They’re not interested as much as you might think about what you send them.
  3. To be fair people are busy – aren’t they? Not everybody has time like you to spend hours on the internet.
  4. There’s a flaw in your link tracking system.
  5. Just because people tolerate you doesn’t mean they have to like you or your stuff!!
  6. [.. yadda.. yadda …yadda]

And naysayers of course have absolutely no knowledge of my contacts, their interests, my interests or the degree of match in those interests – but they feel a need to defend simply because they’re similarly afflicted. And no – I’m not saying that people ought not to be cautious about e-correspondence and what links they click! And I’m not saying that everybody is obliged to click every link I send them. Jeeze!!

The internet is the greatest revolution in history – this is the best time in the history of mankind to be alive – to be in touch with our kind out there. But guess what? People are so busy and scared that they are crippled from taking part in this grand spectacle in our humanity. It adds to my world view that the average human being is a timid anxiety-ridden block of flesh gifted with the higher functions of a neocortex - but ruled by a primitive evolutionary remnant buried deep in their subcortex, which rules over them evermore.