My daughter gave me a book for my birthday. She knows I like thrillers and so she tries to gets me stuff related to that genre. This time she got me a book called Trust Me I’m Lying by a guy named Ryan Holiday, although I expect that is not his real name, because if his real name was known I would further suspect there would be a lot of people out for his scalp.
Although I have been blogging for a number of years, most of my stuff tends to be strictly opinion about entertainment, sports or marketing which is pretty much all I really give a shit about. The only news I pay attention to revolves around those topics. I haven’t realty watched the evening news in years. I think CNN is the devil on your TV screens and I certainly don’t follow and Internet based news blogs or sites or services.
When you get to a certain age and you have been involved with communications for long enough, you start to understand that the world’s level of bullshit is like the stock market…it may have its ups and downs but overall it is steadily rising. The Internet has made this worse, simply because it has put so much information out there, a goodly percentage of which is bullshit, or at the very least, inaccurate to degrees from mildly to wildly.
I always wondered why there was so much bullshit in the world. Was it laziness on the part of journalists…after all they do make crap money for the work they do. Or is it simply that’s it’s not physically impossible to report news accurately, because there is not time to double check facts, as the demands for new content are so gargantuan.
My suspicion is that it is a bit of both and this has been recently confirmed by Mr Holiday’s amazing expose. The book is subtitled, Confessions of A Media Manipulator.
Mr Holiday, who is obviously a very smart cookie and a public relations maven, methodically, in great detail and with a lot of pretty shocking examples, explains how the news media works in the Internet Age. He also goes into great detail about how he studied the mechanics of this system, learned to manipulate it and began doing just that on behalf of his clients.
This book is at once frightening, extremely revealing and completely and utterly cynical, which my daughter, bless her shaggy purple-haired head, knew I would find irresistible.
The corruption of information detailed in this book touches all areas of life, not just so called hard news about economics, politics, war and terrorism. But what it also does is point out to anyone smart enough to see it that no matter where you go on the web, you run a fairly substantial risk of being misinformed, deluded or outright lied to, simply because guys like Mr Holiday (and there are a lots of them out there), who know how to play the system, have fed some piece of bullshit in one end and through their expertise at manipulation, managed to turn it into news that is consumed by you and me. This, in turn, affects our behaviour in one way or another, and does the same for millions of others who are taking this all in via pretty much every news vehicle out there.
I think this is an amazing book, not just because it confirms pretty every cynical thought I have had about the internet, but because it gives you a bit of the knowledge you need to be really careful about what you read, and what you see and hear on news programs, and may be tempted to pass along via social and business media.
In today’s world, there really is no such thing as a straight line to the truth. Because even the truth could just be a rumour created by a slickster like Mr. Holiday, expanded by a bunch of ill informed, overworked, underpaid bloggers and expounded on by mindless talking heads like Wolf Blitzer.
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