Trust Me…I am Lying?
July 30, 2012
Whenever I hear the words, « trust me » I start doubting. Why did he or she need to say it? Is not trust implicit in human interaction?
Yet in reality, as we sadly are all aware, deception is often the name of the game. Ryan Holiday tells us about his game of deception in his just published book entitled “Trust Me I am Lying-Confession of a Media Manipulator.” In his book, he exposes corruption in the Blogosphere and media.
”I am tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it. I’m pulling back the curtain because I don’t want anyone else to get blindsided.”
Blind siding he did! In his own words:
“You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually someone like me.”
I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs-as much as any one person can.
“Usually, it is a simple hustle. Someone pays me, I manufacture a story for them, and we trade it up the chain - from a tiny blog to Gawker to a website of a local news network to the Huffington Post to the major newspapers to cable news and back again, until the unreal becomes real. Sometimes I start by planting a story. Sometimes I put out a press release or ask a friend to break a story on their blog. Sometimes I ‘leak’ a document. Sometimes I fabricate a document and leak that. Really, it can be anything, from vandalizing a Wikipedia page to producing an expensive viral video. However the play starts, the end is the same: The economics of the Internet are exploited to change public perception - and sell product.”
His book launch was a great success. He has appeared on television radio shows and had press in publication such as Forbes and the Huffington Post.
Why the success?
The success could be explained by the word “confession.” When you hear the word “confession” you expect a certain degree of honesty and maybe to discover some secret truth ignored until now. Uncovering a secret has its appeal. Amazon carries more than 23,000 books with the word “confession” in the title. Let me list a few: St. Augustine, (The Confessions); Tolstoy (A Confession); Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Confessions) and David Oglivy (Confession of an Advertizing Man.)
It could also be that we are gratified to hear someone say something we already knew. The fact that there are PR executives with no moral sense is not new. What is reassuring is to know that the vast majority of public relations professionals are not unethical or the industry would not be where it is today. According to U.S. Labor Statistics that are in the U.S. more than 60,000 public relations professionals, 7,000 public relations agencies and more than $9 billion in fee income annually.
A confession somehow includes regret for past actions and promises change and hope for the future. This book could become an Ethical Guideline of what not to do and why. Sometimes knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.
It is interested to note that Eight of the Ten Commandments begin with “Thou Shall Not.”