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How gullible could people be?

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

That's the question I asked myself after watching a few documentaries lately on Netflix (Wild Wild Country, Bad Vegan, Keep Sweet: Prey and Obey, and others) which focused on victims who had been manipulated for money, or others who had fallen for following false teachers and consequently, joining very questionable groups.

I couldn't comprehend what compelled successful, educated individuals to allow someone to manipulate them to the point where they stopped thinking for themselves, and blindly followed what someone else was asking them to do- without any second thought.

Once I had time to reflect upon this thought though, I realized, that ultimately, people who fell victim to those scams were searching for something to fill a void in their lives. On their quest to find a sense of purpose, or truth, they would then stumble across charismatic, intelligent individuals who would convince them that they have the answer to their problems.

The process is very gradual, and eventually, they managed to convince people to part with their money, their families, and even their values- it was a truly scary phenomenon. Upon watching more of those docuseries, I was confronted with the truth that any one of us can fall victim to these schemes, and rather than judge people who did, one ought to look at how they can protect themselves from falling for similar lies.

After much reflection and thought, I realized that there are several steps that we need to take to ensure that we do not suffer a similar fate:

Have a strong sense of your values:

Clearly define your non-negotiables in life- what is it that you value the most?- and ensure that whatever opportunities you are presented with, you look at them through the lens of your non-negotiable values.

If it is too good to be true- chances are- it is:

Nothing in life comes for free. If someone comes promising you a magical answer to all your problems, step away from the situation and try to analyze those statements rationally. Try to remain objective, do your research, and ask around.

Create your own happiness:

Do not wait for others to offer you "the route to happiness", create your own road to happiness. Make time for activities that make you happy- focus on goals that lead to your fulfilment. If you feel your life is mundane and purpose-less, what can you do to add joy to your life? Can you volunteer, travel, start a new personal project, or perhaps learn something new? Take charge of your own life, instead of waiting for others to do it for you.

Beware of requests for financial support:

Most scams, ultimately, revolve around money- unfortunately. Once requests for financial support or help start coming in from an individual or organization that you just joined, consider this a red flag, and take a step back and reassess the legitimacy of the request.

There are plenty more ways that we can work on protecting ourselves from social and financial scams. The most important thing is to remain aware during our interactions with others, to analyze situations rationally, and to believe our gut feeling once it tells us something is not right.



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