“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
― Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
I recently read this from Seth Godin, a marketing expert, which explains why people chase the cheap or free legal services mirage. If you want to cut to the chase, then read the paragraph highlighted in red below, but if you really want to understand this phenomenon, read the whole thing (you’ll be glad you did):
The shortcut crowd
[M]arkets have segments. There are people who enjoy buying expensive wine. There are people who will save up their money to have a big wedding. There are people who pay to have a personal trainer…
And within segments, there are careful consumers, traditional consumers, consumers who seek out the cutting edge. There are bargain hunters, luxury snobs and people who measure the way Consumer Reports does.
Often overlooked, though, is the fact that in many markets, particularly involving personal finance, small business and relationships, there are people who are obsessed with the shortcut.
They want something that’s too good to be true.
They respond to big promises that offer magical, nearly instant results.
They want a squeeze page, a tripwire offer, a hard sell.
They respond to these messages because they’re a signal that a shortcut is on offer.
My grandmother, who never exercised a day in her life, bought an exercise machine from a late night TV commercial. When it sat gathering dust, she explained that she thought it would do the exercise for her, and was disappointed that it didn’t magically make her fit for $99.
Or consider the victims of ‘plastic surgeons to the stars’ who pay for radical surgery only to discover that it doesn’t change their social life.
Or the hardworking people who fork over money for a get rich internet ICO, based on technology that they (and the promoter) don’t understand.
There are complicated reasons for wanting this sort of engagement. It might be that the promise and the pressure of these pitches create endorphins that are pleasing. And it might be that deep down, this market segment knows that things that are too good to be true can’t possibly work, and that’s fine with them, because they don’t actually want to change–they simply want to be able to tell themselves that they tried. That the organization they paid their money to failed, of course it wasn’t their failure.
Once you see that this short-cut market segment exists, you can choose to serve them or to ignore them. And you can be among them or refuse to buy in. But you do have to choose.
Take your medicine. Face reality. Yes, good professional services are rarely free or cheap (and when they are, most of us aren’t don’t qualify for them). Sure, you can try to believe or delude yourself into believing that you can and will somehow get good legal representation free, or even cheap, but deep down you know you’re only fooling—and ultimately hurting—yourself.
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