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By Mike Banks Valentine
Monday, November 15, 2004; 1:20pm EST

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Making Money Online and the Willing Suspense of Disbelief

Why do people who want to make money online, fall for scams and crazy schemes they wouldn't even think of entertaining in the "real" bricks and mortar world? I've seen a few reasons offered in response to this question. A lot of people put it down to greed and I daresay there is a fair bit of that about. It is also suggested that many of the people who are searching for a way to make money online are desperate and it is sheer desperation that makes them vulnerable. Some people blame the effectiveness of online advertising, and a well-written sales letter can go an awfully long way to persuading a reader to act against his better judgment. It is sometimes suggested that people see the Internet as a different kind of reality and that makes them prone to doing things they would not otherwise consider. My personal feeling is that a combination of all those reasons is often what makes normally sensible people abandon reason and fall for an Internet scam or some kind of doubtful online money making scheme.

I have never forgotten studying English Literature at university and learning about the concept of the "willing suspense of disbelief". That's the thing that enables us to enjoy watching a drama or reading a novel; we know it is just a made-up story and the characters aren't real but, in order to get full enjoyment out of the experience, we willingly suspend our disbelief and allow the characters and their dramas to be real to us. This ability to suspend aspects of the way we think is played upon by copywriters who target people looking for ways to make money online. If we were not willing to believe (at least for 90 minutes or so) that the hero in the latest action movie is a real person, we would not enjoy the movie to any great extent. A good storyline, great scenery and impressive special effects do not make a gripping movie. All of these things would be wasted if we did not believe in the characters.

It is only when we care about or identify with the characters that the movie successfully moves, interests or excites us. If you think about some of the greatest movies of all time, you will know what I mean. Take Gone With The Wind: this is only a compelling movie if we believe (for the duration of the movie) that Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are real people. Without that belief and consequent interest in the fate of the characters, the storyline alone would not inspire generations of people to watch the movie over and over again. When you watch Jaws, you have to believe the characters are real and are in danger of being consumed by the (also real) shark; if you don't employ this belief, you won't enjoy the film because there would be no excitement in it for you. Whether you are viewing a love story, a "person in peril" situation or a fight for justice in a courtroom drama, the same thing applies: you must be willing to believe in the characters for the story to have meaning.

The human brain is a strange and complex mechanism which allows us to "turn off" aspects of thinking which are, in effect, integral parts of our personality. This suspense of disbelief is what enables children to enjoy games of imagination: if you ask a three-year old whether her teddy bear can really talk the reply will most probably be "of course not" but the knowledge that she is pretending, does not remove the child's enjoyment of games where teddy "talks" to her. When you are looking for ways to make money online, don't allow your disbelief to be suspended willingly; hang on to your suspicions and cynicism, and remember the Internet is part of our world and not a parallel virtual reality or a movie set.

Elaine Currie helps people to make money online working at home at her Free Work At Home Directory and is the author of Ezine Article Writing - 10 Steps To Success. Download a copy now and learn how to write articles for your website

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