America Online, the web portal notorious for frequent busy signals and disconnects, not to mention avalanches of pop-up advertisements and spam, is trying to win back former customers. They promise to deliver two months free, waiving their normal charge of nearly 24 dollars per month, and promise no commitment. 

Delivering on this promise will be a tall order, as many of the millions made crazy by AOL were in fact committed. This promise, and the software they claim can deliver it come in a shiny new collectable tin! Psychiatrist Samuel F. Thompson advises his patients not to take the bait.

“We all have a tendency to be drawn to shiny things,” said Doctor Thompson, “and we all have a deeply ingrained need to forgive, so when people who have hurt us ask for another chance, we usually give it to them. Based on what I have observed, however, America online is one offender we should not forgive and forget with.”

He told us of patients he had treated, such as Mark Baines of Trenton Michigan, who would sit in the corner for hours on end reciting, “Welcome! You’ve got mail! Goodbye.” Goodbye was often followed by shouts of, “No! Don’t cut me off! I haven’t got my mail yet!” “Not another damn pop-up, Just let me in!” and a lot of trembling. 

Doctor Thompson went on to say that many people burned by AOL have become militantly technophobic, and moved to primitive cabins in secluded wooded areas such as in Montana, Washington State, and the Appalachian Mountains. Others seem to have a masochistic need to keep being abused by AOL. “Theirs is an addiction much more harmful than simple addictions to surfing the net, talking in chat rooms, or playing Everquest,” he said. “There is something profoundly wrong with AOL. It affects people.”