Publish at November 08 2022 Updated November 10 2022

Earning money easily on the Internet, like a dream

How the Internet feeds the myth of easy money

The title of this article is one of the most popular queries on search engines, in all languages. It is also the promise made by many sites in need of popularity. So let's ask ourselves two questions: how? And why (not me)?

Level 1: how to make money on the Internet without getting tired

Try this experiment: type the title of the article into your search engine and watch the list of results. You'll probably see a number of articles that promise you 10, 25, 41 (for what not 40 or 42? We wonder) or even 60 extraordinary ideas to get rich in a few clicks.

Now open a few of these articles (this one, or this one, which are not among the worst), watch a video or two... You'll find that most of our lecturers fall back on a few key ideas:

  • Bet and win
  • Practice print on demand (which means "print on demand," but it's much fancier in English)
  • Create a YouTube channel
  • Spend money to get discounts on products you'll buy later (wait.... that's called "making money", right?)
  • Click, click and click again
  • Test products and take surveys
  • Sell your used clothes
  • Sell your books
  • Sell your online courses (but yes...)
  • Bref, sell!

After reading or listening carefully to these tips, one conclusion is in order: bullshit.

These articles and videos are fake content, illusions made to bring in visitors. Indeed, these "tips and good ideas" mainly direct you to 4 types of activities:

  • Gambling, in which the probability of winning the bet is infinitesimal, online as in real life. "Bet and win" belongs to this category, on which we will not dwell.

  • The results of an audience that you still need to know how to acquire: monetizing your YouTube or Tik Tok channel implies having created one, presenting regular content, interesting an audience large enough to reach a number of views authorizing the addition of advertising. And it will take many, many views to get any kind of financial reward.

  • The accumulation of repetitive, low-paying activities. For example, you can take surveys, read thousands of emails, click tens of thousands of times on links. And earn pennies.
    This digital work has been well analyzed by sociologist Antonio Casilli, who sees it as a new form of exploitation that has nothing to envy to the sleaziest garment shops.

  • The production of marketable content. Become a graphic designer, course designer, writer... Nothing could be easier, could it! And then sell your wonderful products on the Internet. At Thot, we all work on the Internet in one way or another. None of us is rich. Yet we know our stuff. And we are no less "lucky" than others.

Level 2: How to make money on the Internet by making highly profitable investments

Most of us don't fall for these kinds of bald promises. Never mind: there are others, with a much more serious, even austere, appearance, who address reasonable people, who know the value of money and ask for guarantees before investing: that's us!

We are entering the realm of scams here. Based on the principle that you don't get something for nothing, unscrupulous people will encourage you to invest your savings in very juicy investments, usually made on products with obscure names or for which one wonders well what they can be used for.

By following the advice of these self-proclaimed financial advisors, you're not likely to make money. Instead, you'll lose some, and sometimes a lot. One case after another is coming out: such a youtuber is accused of stealing 3 to 4 million euros from naive investors. Booba, the French rapper with the diamond disc, is going to war with Instagram's "influvoliators," the personalities who encourage their fans to squander their savings.

At the heart of these scams are often cryptocurrencies, which are proliferating and many of which are simply worthless. Scammers are multiplying the strategies for phishing their future prey and the traps it is easy to fall into, as detailed in this well-documented article from Capital magazine.

We see it: the Internet is a reservoir of illusions. On the web more than anywhere else, saying is doing. Speech circulates without hindrance, sustaining unreasonable but so well shared hopes.

Why (not me)?

Where do we get the fascination with easy money? Why do we want to believe all those promises? Probably for two major reasons.

  • The first is the sometimes haunting desire to get out of the logic of exchange. As this Swiss psychiatrist reminds us, work is based on exchange: in exchange for skills put at the service of a project or an organization, I receive a salary, a remuneration. I produce, I get paid for it. This is the basis of the contract that reads not only the employer and the employee, but also any producer/seller and any consumer.

    This is the same as saying that in order to receive, one must give. Some people have so little confidence in themselves, are so poorly recognized by their fellow human beings, that they feel they have nothing to give... Or, conversely, that they will never receive enough to compensate for the effort that their giving has cost them.

  • The second reason is that we are surrounded by examples of real or perceived injustice: why did so-and-so win the lottery and I didn't? Why does such and such a footballer get tens of millions for playing the same sport as me? Why do some bosses sometimes earn 50 or 100 times more than their employees, without obviously working 50 or 100 times more?

Faced with such discrepancies, some will revolt against the system and act to reduce inequalities, frame remuneration, fight against dirty money. Others will rather dream that a good fairy will finally look after their fate... Those will then perhaps rely on the internet to force fate.

Believing in the too-good-to-be-true promises that abound on the internet is to dream of being someone else, of evolving in a less harsh world and having the possibility of realizing some of your dreams. It is to give a big place to money for that. It's probably not the only way to evolve, and probably not the least risky of all the options available to us.

Illustration: Siphotography, Deposit photo


AI: click farms replace sweatshops. Diane Bérard, Les Affaires, 2019

Cryptocurrency scam: the Paris prosecutor's office opens an investigation against a youtuber. Josephine Boone, Les Echos, 2022.

Rapper Booba on crusade against financial product influencers. Josephine Boone, Les Echos, 2022.

Crypto-currencies: the various scams affecting savers. Thomas Chenel, Capital, 2022.

The myth of easy money. Olivier Spinnler, Slightly serious, seriously light, 2021.

Wage gaps in large groups are becoming a CSR risk monitored by shareholders. Arnaud Dumas, Novethic, 2021.

See more articles by this author




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