Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

Trust Me I'm Lying

RATING: 8/10…READ: July 27, 2012

A look behind the scenes of how the modern day media system works. The first half gives the tactics of media manipulators, while the second half explains the consequences of how damaging these tactics have been. Despite being a media manipulator himself, I feel he still stays on the “ethical” side of these dark arts. It’s a book sure to piss off many. I knew modern media was corrupt, but not to the extent laid out in this book. Highly Recommended.

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We’re a country governed by public opinion, and public opinion is largely governed by the press, so isn’t it critical to understand what governs the press? What rules over the media, rules over the country.

Publishers and advertisers can’t differentiate between the types of impressions an ad does on a site. A perusing reader is no better than an accidental reader. An article that provides worthwhile advice is no more valuable than one instantly forgotten. So long as the page loads and the ads are seen, both sides are fulfilling their purpose. A click is a click.

Media was once about protecting a name; on the web it is about building one.

Blogs are built and run with an exit in mind. This is really why they need scoops and acquire marquee bloggers—to build up their names for investors and to show a trend of rapidly increasing traffic.

The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger.

Regardless of the topic, the more an article makes someone feel good or bad, the more likely it is to make the Most E-mailed list. No marketer is ever going to push something with the stink of reasonableness, complexity, or mixed emotions.

A core principle of our new viral culture: “Humiliation should not be suppressed. It should be monetized.”

“In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.” –Chris Hedges

Social Media isn’t a set of tools to allow humans to communicate with humans. It is a set of embedding mechanisms to allow technologies to use humans to communicate with each other, in an orgy of self-organizing…The Matrix had it wrong. You’re not the battery power in a global, human-enslaving AI, you are slightly more valuable. You are part of the circuitry. –Venkatesh Rao

“We newspaper people thrive best on the calamities of others.” –Benjamin Day

“Why, I wonder, should the popularity of a news story matter to me? Does it mean it’s a good story or just a seductive one? Isn’t my purpose on this earth, at least professionally, precisely to read the most unpopular stories? Shouldn’t I ignore this list? Shouldn’t I roam through the news unconcerned and maybe even uninformed of how many other people read this same news and voted for it?” –Susan Orlean

Pageview journalism treats people by what they appear to want—from data that is unrepresentative to say the least—and gives them this and only this until they have forgotten that there could be anything else. It takes the audience at their worst and makes them worse. And then, when criticized, publishers throw up their hands as if to say, “We wish people liked better stuff too,” as if they had nothing to do with it.

If a blogger isn’t willing or doesn’t have the time to get off their ass to visit the stores they write about, that’s their problem. It makes it that much easier to create my own version of reality. I will come to them with the story. I’ll meet them on their terms, but their story will be filled with my terms. They won’t take the time or show the interest to check with anyone else.

The interested and informed citizen can congratulate himself on his lofty state of interest and information and neglect to see that he has abstained from decision and action. In short, he takes his secondary contact with the world of political reality, his reading and listening and thinking, as vicarious performance….He is concerned. He is informed. And he has all sorts of ideas as to what should be done. But, after he has gotten through dinner and after he has listened to his favored radio programs and after he has read his second newspaper of the day, it is really time for bed. –Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton

According to Nielson, active social networkers are 26 percent more likely to give their opinion on politics and current events off-line, even though they are exactly the people whose opinions should matter the least.

Old Rule:

If the outlet is legitimate, the stories it breaks are

If the story is legitimate, the facts inside it are

It can be assumed that if the subject of the story is legitimate, then what people are saying about it probably is too.

Science essentially pits the scientists against each other, each looking to disprove the work of tohers. This process strips out falsehoods, mistakes, and errors. Journalism has no such culture. Reporters look to one up each other on the same subjects, often adding new scoops to existing stories. Meanwhile, people like Jeff Jarvis explicitly advise online newspapers and aspiring blogs not to waste they time trying “to replicate the work of other reporters.” In the age of the link, he says, “this is clearly inefficient and unnecessary.” Don’t waste “now precious resources matching competitors stories” or checking and verifying them like a scientist would. Instead, pick up where they left off and see where the story takes you. Don’t be a perfectionist, he’s saying, join the link economy and delegate trust.

Journalism can never truly be iterative, because as soon as it is read it becomes fact—in this case, poor and often inaccurate fact.

Online publishers need to fill space. Companies need coverage of their products. Together blogs, marketers, and publicists cannot help but conspire to meet one anothers’ needs and dress up the artificial and unreal as important. Why? Because that’s how they get paid.

“Snark is not the response of “the masses” to the inane doublespeak of politicians. It’s a defense mechanism for writers who, having nothing to say, are absolutely terrified of being criticized or derided. Snarky writing reflects a primal fear—the fear of being laughed at. Snarky writers don’t want to be mocked, so they strike first by mocking everyone in sight.

There is nothing that you could say would hurt the cast of the Jersey Shore. They need you to talk about them, to insult them, and to make fun of them is to do that. They have no reputation to ruin, only notoriety to gain. So the people who thrive under snark are exactly those who we wish would go away, and the people we value most as cultural contributors lurk in the back of the room, hoping not to get noticed and hurt. Everything in-between may as well not exist. Snark encourages the fakeness and stupidity it is supposedly trying to rail against.

When the news is decided not by what is important but by what readers are clicking; when the cycle is so fast that the news cannot be anything else but consistently and regularly incomplete; when dubious scandals pressure politicians to resign and scuttle election bids or knock millions from the market caps of publicly traded companies; when the news frequently covers itself in stories about “how the story unfolded”—unreality is the only word for it.


All That Happens

All That’s Known by the Media

All That is Newsworthy

All That is Published as News

All That Spreads