Subject: AOL Lies:  New Member Guide
Date: 30 Dec 1994 18:20:28 -0800

I recently got another one of those ten-free-hour accounts.  A few days
after signing on, my mailbox received the "America Online Member Guide"--
about 30 pages of largely-spaced crap.  But get this:  on a white cover
with a multi-colored border, a mouse cord moves through pictures of four
people, under the caption "Experience the fastest growing online service
through the eyes of our members."  The guide features four pages of Member
Profiles of AOL members--Dave, Kathy, Mike, and Michelle. 
They made them up.
At the bottom of the inside front cover, in letters about as tall as a
dime is wide, they hedge that "The people described in Section One are
fictional," reflecting "composite profiles taken from letters and messages
from America Online members."   
Despite the fact that these people are all non-existent, that didn't stop
them from printing a photograph of each "member", and a name next to it,
on the very first page. 4 5 6 7
It takes up about a third of the page.  (Note:  three of them are white,
and none of the women hold jobs.)
Turning to page four--"DAVE"--we find this entirely imaginary person has
two paragraphs describing himself.  "Dave started using America Online
because of his interest in sports--but he quickly discovered other
exciting features." 

	(I'll indent my comments, and put them in between.)

"My friend Jim was always on top of the scores, so I got curious about
where he was getting his information. 

        (Jim is fictitious too.)  

Now, I use America Online to stay on top of the scoreboard too.  

        My friend Phil uses a newspaper to stay on top of the scores.  
        The fool!

I've also had some time to set some of those Braves fans straight in a few
online debates! 

        The online debates...never happened!

I've really had fun with the Grandstand Fantasy Baseball League!

        Fills in those long, lonely hours.  Since I can't get dates.

The service was particularly helpful after I bought my Gateway 2000 computer.
        Before that, I didn't have a computer.  I continued paying my $9.95
        membership fee, though, because I saw this brochure that said I 
        *needed* AOL!

I can get right to Gateway through the Industry Connection.        
        Actually, that is pretty impressive.  Telnetting past the Gateway 
        firewalls must be...what?  He meant send an e-mail message to 
        Gateway?  But what's so great about that?

When I have questions, they're back to me right away.
        Yeah, AOL's mail is always bouncing like that.

	[End of profile]

        I still can't get over this.  Not only did they make it all up, 
	but they have a PHOTOGRAPH of "Dave",  sitting next to some 
        weight-training equipment.   

        [ALSO fictitious]
Kathy, a busy mom, became an America Online member because she thought the
encyclopedia would be useful to her ten-year-old son, Peter, and
thirteen-year-old daughter, Laura.  Now, she uses the service as much as
the kids do. 
        Peter and Laura ALSO do not exist.  If we're playing fast and 
	loose with the truth, why stop there?
           Peter, a Virgo, worships the devil, and Laura, a blood-sucking 
           zombie, consumes small animals that she captures in the front 

I thought America Online would have great information for my kids, but it
has alot for me, too--like a way to stay informed without sacrificing time
with my family. 
        Just their lunch money.  
	AOL != "staying informed".

And I've actually found myself responding to the news sources.  I even
wrote a Letter to the Editor of TIME Magazine Online. 

        I sent E-MAIL!  Do you hear me?  E-MAIL!!!!!  AOL is great! 

The other night, my husband Bob was out of town for work....

        Oooh...this is gonna be good.

and I found myself up a little later than usual talking with some other 
parents in People Connection.
        Many of them were also lonely, and not getting the attention from 
        their wives that they craved.  Six of us arranged a clandestine 
        meeting at a rustic mountain retreat...

We had a great discussion about raising socially conscious kids.
        "Don't let them say 'nipple'."
        "When your child witnesses a TOS violation, he or she should be
        encouraged to use the keyword GuidePager and ask a Guide to enter
        the room where the violation is occurring...A witness to a 'TOS 
        event' rarely forgets the experience."

I've really encouraged the kids to get the most from the services
available to them.  Laura got some help with her Algebra one night from
one of the live online tutors. 
        She failed Algebra, however.  The shut-in teaching her 
        had a rare skull indentation....

But they know the rule--Disney Adventures Online *after* the homework is 
        Whether they want it or not.
Mike is never too far away from a computer--particularly since most of his
clients now communicate through e-mail. 
        Some of them have even written to the editor of TIME!!!

America Online has become an indispensable business tool--managing his
stock portfolio, buying and selling stocks online, and getting expert
advice on business trends. 
        Remember the thread-starter from last summer:  I would never trust a 
        broker so computer-illiterate as to have an AOL account?  Well, I 
	would *NEVER* trust a broker who used AOL to *manage* his stock 
        portfolio.  "Yeah, you know those PUT options?  Well, apparently 
	over the labor-day weekend..."
	Here's how "Mike" 's profile starts.

Speed is everything in my consulting business.

Clients want answers now.  I've found the Internet e-mail gateway 


I can send mail to any online e-mail system they're using at no extra cost 
        E-MAIL!  This guy can do E-MAIL!

or send documents to their fax machines.  

        It's called "having a modem".   WinFax came free when I bought my 

It's made corresponding immediate and easy.

        I just wish I could attach a spreadsheet.

I use the Personal Finance department to manage my investments.  
	Scary thought.  "One of AOL's online stock consultants suggested 
	I invest heavily in inflation-sensitive commodities.  He suggested 
	particularly that silver futures would be "K@@L".  Thanking Mr. 
	Costomiris for his timely advice, I've now restructured all the bond 
	holdings of my organization--with this highly leveraged portfolio, 
	I should make a fortune for my employer, Orange County.

It's easy to check my portfolio, do some fundamental research, and then
use TradePlus Gateway to buy and sell stocks. 
        My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says...
        Yeah?  Well *my* broker is StockTra6941...
	"Mike" 's picture shows a silver-haired guy, in a white shirt and tie,
	with a computer on his desk--feet on the desk, with a view out the 
	window of a tall building.  (I think they deliberately made "Mike" 
	look like Louis Rukheyser.  But with a goofier smile--less of that 
	intimidating intelligence.) 
	I think I'd make stock investments based on information I got from 
	AOL.  If I were using other people's money.  Especially if I didn't 
	like them.
It's all in one place and all at my direction, which beats holding the
phone for a broker. 

        I'd much rather hold for an hourglass.

And if I see some unusual activity, I can take a look at the news to see 
if there's something behind it.  No waiting for tomorrow's newspapers.

	Yeah, AOL's coverage of commodities-related news has always been 
	one of their strong points. 
	Now we get to the only minority--"Michelle".  The female law student 
	at Georgetown.

 Michelle first discovered America Online when her dad encouraged her to
use the College Board service to help pick a school.  Now, as sophomore at
Georgetown, she still uses the service. 
        Had it not been for AOL, she might have ended up at a crappy 
	school.  Like Trenton State.
Every so often I take a little break from studying and go online for some 
        You can't *say* urine on AOL.

I'm a pretty avid cyclist, and I've made some great friends through
BikeNet, the Bicycling Information Network.  One of them told me about
this great trip that follows the route of the Santa Fe trail. 
        In Arizona, it forks off into the thimble kingdom, and in August, 
        Queen Bolina leads the moondust parade...  (What the hell, if we're 
	making these up...)
Mom and Dad said it's a go, right before I start my summer job.

        I love my parents.  And they love me.  And we all love AOL.  
	Except Dad, whose Turitt's syndrome makes him unpopular with the 
	Guides.  As well as with his parish.  And the neighbor's cat.  You
	see, he thinks he's a chicken...ah, but enough about me.

One of the great uses I've found for America Online is keeping in touch
with my folks.  Dad's a pretty regular user; Mom too,

        I can see it coming...

so I just drop them a note once a week.
        AOL has E-MAIL, everybody!!!!!  Run, don't walk.....AOL HAS 

Sometimes we take a few minutes on Wednesday night to chat--that's when 
Dad's computer forum meets.  
        You have no dad.  You're fictitious.  We could say anything!  You
        were spawned from turnips!  Harvested on Neptune!  Cultured from 
	mold in a petri dish!  Cloned from frozen brain cells.  They saved 
	Hitler's brain!
Do you think it's tacky to ask for money by modem?
        BWA HA HA!  You made me spit popcorn all over the keyboard!!!!!
        Now I have to clean it up!  "Money by modem".  Chortle chortle
        chortle---that's rich.  Ah, money by modem.  Hee hee hee.  God, I
        love AOL.  Where do I sign?
At least it's one less long distance phone call.
        E-MAIL!!!!  AOL has----oh wait, we did that already.  Never mind.
Pictures of fake people, and four pages of BS they *made up* !!! And the
caption on the cover says: "Experience the fastest growing online service
through the eyes of our members", reprinting the four fake pictures. 
Now that's what I call "virtual" reality.