Soothsayers just want your money
Chinese people have always believed in fate, said Yan Yunming, but we also believe we can change it. We try to optimize our fortunes by consulting the zodiac and choosing houses or wedding dates with lucky numbers. And now we’re consulting online fortune-tellers. These supposed sages are all over the Chinese internet, and they will even read your fate via WhatsApp or WeChat. Some friends recently encouraged me to try a digital fortune-teller for career advice after I complained of feeling stressed in a new job. I forked over 50 yuan ($7.50) and was told to type in my name, gender, birthday, place of birth, city of residence, and field of work. The “self-proclaimed soothsayer” warned me that, because I was born in the Year of the Dog, I’d have bad luck until 2022. But, he said, there was hope. I was due for an unexpected windfall—and he could tell me all about it if I just paid some extra money. It was obvious this was “a scam.” Online fortune-tellers are preying on the gullibility and superstition of the Chinese. They “fleece people in the name of predicting the future.” China has modernized so rapidly that it’s understandable to feel disoriented. But in seeking comforting answers from strangers, we’re making ourselves easy marks.