I recently received an offer on Upwork to write a 5-star review for a local business. For a whopping $10, I was offered the opportunity to write a 45-word review but obligated to give the company five stars in order to be paid. In the proposal, the owner wrote that he wanted to bring in more business for his new company. I sat on the request for a day or so to mull it over, feeling a bit on the fence about it. This morning I replied that I could not write a 5-star review for a company I’ve not done business with, that it just didn’t seem right. Then I got to thinking, well, it would’ve been a paid gig… and it would’ve added a successful gig to my Upwork homepage. Yet somehow I couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of writing a review that may or may not be true.
Sometimes I have to choose principles over pocket money for a writing gig.
Where do we draw the line? Is anyone else drawing that line? The online world has opened us up to numerous opportunities, some good, some bad, some in between the two. Maybe it’s the way I was raised; honesty and strength of character were deemed more important than making a quick buck. Now it seems to be more about making that quick buck. With a burgeoning human population, I’m sure much of it is driven by individual economics and the need to earn livable wages however one can.
With only so many jobs open at any given time, working as an independent contractor or as a freelancer has opened up countless opportunities. One of those opportunities is to provide false information; it comes in the form of online business reviews, professional references (yes, you can pay someone to lie to your potential employer about your work history but it’s fraudulent and you can get into a boatload of legal troubles for it), even on a resume (also fraudulent).
Liar-for-hire Tim Green, founder of Paladin Deception Services, will lie for you, for a price ($54 a month). He says he won’t break the law but he obviously has no problem being deceitful or fraudulent for his clients. He even has technology so he can provide a phone number that will show with any area code in the U.S.
Deceitful behavior is a sign of poor character, even if it’s profitable. Making money from it doesn’t make it okay just because you rationalize that you’re not “breaking the law”. It’s a serious breach of ethics, both personal and professional. It reminds me of a concept that I studied in a Greek (Socrates) philosophy class known as ‘fun morality’. Basically, the premise is that if it’s fun, it must be okay. For writers, this unethical approach will eventually get you into hot water.
In the end, it comes down to whether I can live with a professional deceit like a 5-star review for a company I don’t know and who is willing to mislead their potential customers.