Read Trust Me, I’m Lying By Ryan Holiday if you want to understand fake news and how the media can manipulate you.
When was the last time you heard the term, “fake news”? first popularized in 2016, this term quickly rose to become an internet meme rooted in reality, media delivers anything that will get them attention – regardless of the truth. Ryan Holiday wrote this book as a sort of penance, revealing the tricks blogs and posters use to get viewers and also revealing the stunts he pulled to his rise to fame.
Trust Me, I’m Lying Summary
In an infamous, but highly effective stunt, Ryan Holiday wrote an article on how he convinced large industry blog GalleyCat to print news about his upcoming book. Ryan had announced he landed a “major deal” on his book, and GalleyCat further published that his advance was half a million dollars.
At the time, nothing happened, but Ryan used this to advance himself and to further showcase how blogs will print anything as long as it gets people reading.
Holiday’s book is part confession, part insight into the blogging industry and the concept of “half-truths” where blogs may not necessarily lie, but they misconstrue or propagate the truth to higher proportions that it obscures the original message.
This goes beyond the traditional “clickbait” titles, where article posts are made for the sole purpose to grab attention, even if the article isn’t as interesting or newsworthy as it’s made out to be. The holiday takes a deep dive and shines the light on darker industry practices.
Blogs Are All About Business
Blogging may have begun as a hobby, but there are few bloggers out there that are still doing so. Blogs make money, and to make money, it must be treated as a business. Although most small blogs aim to have a dedicated following of loyal readers and provide them with useful information, larger industry blogs operate like a giant corporation, doing anything short of outright illegal to make money.
The primary way to monetize a blog is through advertising. Although other ways, such as sponsorships and affiliate marketing have their faults, they rarely depend on the volume of viewership. These monetization methods are usually looking for specific customers, so blogs can monetize this even at low viewership rates. The issue comes from google, native, and banner ads, which are usually through “AdSense”. This means that anytime anyone takes a look at your blog, or clicks a link, the blog makes money.
To make great money with AdSense, the blog needs thousands of daily viewers. This may turn into a decent passive income, earning somewhere in the six figures annually. Furthermore, these visitors can be captured with contact information subscriptions to keep them coming back, and eventually selling the blog.
Content Posted Is Just To Drive Viewership
Now that the previous section has defined the ways blogs make money and how it’s run like a business, one can easily see why high viewership rates are necessary and a constant inflow of attention-grabbing news and posts must be made. The words Holiday use are “as long as it turns heads, it’ll be posted, even if it’s complete crap”.
Blogs need a large amount of content to get thousands of views, and that is not organic for a few people to post. A few posts per day won’t cut it, there need to be tens of thousands of posts in the blog with links to achieve a massive amount of daily visitors. It is extremely difficult to write hundreds of blogs a week without a workforce equivalent to a large bank, so blogs will post anything as long as it grabs attention.
A common practice is to introduce the article with a clickbait headline and then fill the article with nonsense, or even useless content just to make sure viewers will click on it. this is then loaded with links to other articles using the same headline method, and repeated. The viewer may waste half an hour in this way, not getting any value, but blogs get their views.
The Blog: 21st Century Witch Hunts
The colosseum and amphitheaters were some of the most popular entertainment venues of the roman empire. Of these fights, the most sought-after bloody fights were the ones that were to the death. Viewers got a carnal enjoyment from this and could escape their worries and fears of daily life, even in poverty. Second to this were witch-hunts, where institutions and people would find and condemn victims, calling them witches, and executing them.
Blogs are a way to deal with problems that give viewers a sense of righteousness and reinforce their self-acceptance. There is a reason why many people love to see inflammatory articles about celebrities and politicians, for example, because they feel their quiet life without any attention is much better and that they are much smarter.
Blogs do keep the spotlight on these influential figures, as it creates a lot of drama. This is a huge problem, as it turns influencers, who are otherwise just human beings, into an outlet for anger and ridicule.
A big example is the paparazzi. They are widely notorious for sneaking into houses and private places to get photos of celebrities away from the spotlight. They risk their safety to get these photos because blogs will pay thousands of dollars for exclusive photos of underdressed celebrities, (false) accusations, and other related disasters. They do this because combined with an attention-grabbing title, a flood of readers will come to victim blame.
The Good, The Bad, And Should You Read This?
Trust me, I’m lying is coarse. It’s real. It’s in your face. The language is plain, the message is direct and the delivery is simple. All this to say, this is a very controversial book and should be treated as such. It is a very eye-opening book, with dark secrets and confessions inside.
It is important to remember when reading through this that the world isn’t all doom and gloom and that the majority of published articles are still of good quality. This opens a light to where the industry struggles with publishing validity.
The key takeaway from this book is that it needs to be approached the same way you would a crime documentary. It is extremely enlightening and eye-opening, but in the words of Uncle Ben “with great power comes great responsibility”. Although it is not advised to use these practices, readers will do as they will.
The main message of this book is to have a fruitful blog, and peace of mind, you should grow it with organic and useful content. Learn what not to do today by picking up your copy of Trust me, I’m lying.