Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (2024)

Magdalene Lim

284 reviews14 followers

September 12, 2012

Witty headline/title, check. Great angle, check. Now, if only this were a 800 word blog post instead of a book. That would be perfect.

It was a pretty good book but I didn't enjoy it and actually had to pull myself through the book at times. The premise is exciting and I was really psyched about reading about how one manipulates the media. That, you can get from reading the book, I agree. For me, the book boils down to 2 things that need not have been talked about in an entire book:

1) The internet, that forms the culture of our current generation, can ruin a person's life with false accusations made. To quote Janis Ian from Mean Girls, "Cause she's a life ruiner. She ruins people's lives." And all this happens in a matter of hours of days. It's rumours on steroids.

2) The reasons for why content is assembled and presented that way is because of traffic and clicks, targets that bloggers desperately need to hit. And you would really start doubting any content you read online after you're done with this book, when you find out how poorly vetted articles are.

This book is definitely a paradigm-shifter. I won't look at websites, that do nothing but aim to fritter your time away, the same way again. (So that's why Mashable always presents its photos in a slideshow - to get more clicks!)

Now excuse me, as I head off click on that Mashable link to "Watch Robot Tentacles Gently Pick Up a Flower."

Nick Scott

Author1 book13 followers

August 8, 2012

This book "ruined" the internet for me. I can't read any sort of news online without thinking about how it's either the product of corporate spoon-feeding or a targeted attack to ruin someone or something. Actually a lot of what's in this book I already knew or suspected, but I didn't realize how bad it was or the very serious consequences.

The book is by Ryan Holiday, a so-called "media-manipulator." He gives an insider's perspective on the world of media manipulation. He lays his points out clearly, he's done his research (in fact it's scary how some old-timey quotes about newspapers still apply to today's media), and for the most part he's not emotional. As the book goes on he does make his feelings about some people clear and comes across as angry/sad at the end.

Read this book and find out how news blogs are ruining everything, how the current media system seems almost designed to be manipulated, how almost everything online is one big marketing pitch, how journalism is for all intents and purposes dead, and so much more!

A must read for anyone who is interested in marketing/PR, journalism, or consumes any sort of new media on a daily basis.

☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

2,486 reviews19.1k followers

April 23, 2019

Q:
IF YOU WERE BEING KIND, YOU WOULD SAY MY JOB IS IN marketing and public relations, or online strategy and advertising. But that’s a polite veneer to hide the harsh truth. I am, to put it bluntly, a media manipulator—I’m paid to deceive. My job is to lie to the media so they can lie to you. I cheat, bribe, and connive for bestselling authors and billion-dollar brands and abuse my understanding of the Internet to do it. (c)

A book that illustrates precisely why I totally disregard social media. And media generally, as a dysfunctional non-informative noise.

This book is NOT about just blogs, although blogs are a part of the target ecosphere:
Q:
By “blog,” I’m referring collectively to all online publishing. That’s everything from Twitter accounts to major newspaper websites to web videos to group blogs with hundreds of writers. I don’t care whether the owners consider themselves blogs or not. The reality is that they are all subject to the same incentives, and they fight for attention with similar tactics. (c) Yep, totally agree.

Q:
I’m not so foolish as to expect bloggers to know what they are talking about. ...
You may not want me to expose the people behind your favorite websites as the imbeciles, charlatans, and pompous frauds they are.(c)

Q:
Across the billboards was now a two-foot-long sticker that implied that the movie’s creator—my friend, Tucker Max—deserved to have his dick caught in a trap with sharp metal hooks. Or something like that. ...
The vandalized billboards and the coverage that my photos received were just a small part of the deliberately provocative campaign I did for the movie I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. My friend Tucker had asked me to create some controversy around the movie, which was based on his bestselling book, and I did—somewhat effortlessly, it turns out. It is one of many campaigns I have done in my career, and by no means an unusual one. But

it illustrates a part of the media system that is hidden from your view: how the news is created and driven by marketers, and that no one does anything to stop it. (c)

Q:
In under two weeks, and with no budget, thousands of college students protested the movie on their campuses nationwide, angry citizens vandalized our billboards in multiple neighborhoods, FoxNews.com ran a front-page story about the backlash, Page Six of the New York Post made their first of many mentions of Tucker, and the Chicago Transit Authority banned and stripped the movie’s advertisem*nts from their buses. To cap it all off, two different editorials railing against the film ran in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune the week it was released. The outrage about Tucker was great enough that a few years later, it was written into the popular television show Portlandia on IFC.

I guess it is safe to admit now that the entire firestorm was, essentially, fake.

I designed the advertisem*nts, which I bought and placed around the country, and then promptly called and left anonymous complaints about them (and leaked copies of my complaints to blogs for support). I alerted college LGBT and women’s rights groups to screenings in their area and baited them to protest our offensive movie at the theater, knowing that the nightly news would cover it. I started a boycott group on Facebook. I orchestrated fake tweets and posted fake comments to articles online. I even won a contest for being the first one to send in a picture of a defaced ad in Chicago (thanks for the free T-shirt, Chicago RedEye. Oh, also, that photo was from New York). I manufactured preposterous stories about Tucker’s behavior on and off the movie set and reported them to gossip websites, which gleefully repeated them. I paid for anti-woman ads on feminist websites and anti-religion ads on Christian websites, knowing each would write about it.

Sometimes I just Photoshopped ads onto screenshots of websites and got coverage for controversial ads that never actually ran. The loop became final when, for the first time in history, I put out a press release to answer my own manufactured criticism: TUCKER MAX RESPONDS TO CTA DECISION: “BLOW ME,” the headline read.

Hello, sh*tstorm of press.

Hello, number one on the New York Times bestseller list. (c)

Q:
So as the manufactured storm I created played itself out in the press, real people started believing it, and it became true. (c)

Q:

I create and shape the news for them.

... 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. (c)

Q:
I’d seen enough in the edit wars of Wikipedia and the politics of power users in social media to know that something questionable was going on behind the scenes...I realized that the whole thing was a giant con... (c)

Q:
Stocks took major hits, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, on news from the same unreliable sources I’d often trick with fake stories. (c)

Q:

Most people don’t understand how today’s information cycle really works. Many have no idea of how much their general worldview is influenced by the way news is generated online. What begins online ends offline. (c)

Q:
In a media monitoring study done by Cision and George Washington University, 89 percent of journalists reported using blogs for their research for stories. Roughly half reported using Twitter to find and research stories, and more than two thirds use other social networks, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, in the same way. The more immediate the nature of their publishing mediums (blogs, then newspapers, then magazines), the more heavily a journalist will depend on sketchy online sources, like social media, for research.
Recklessness, laziness, however you want to categorize it, the attitude is openly tolerated and acknowledged. The majority of journalists surveyed admitted to knowing that their online sources were less reliable than traditional ones. Not a single journalist said they believed that the information gathered from social media was “a lot more reliable” than traditional media! Why? Because it suffers from a “lack of fact-checking, verification or reporting standards.” (c)

Q:
The media is hopelessly interdependent. Not only is the web susceptible to spreading false information, but it can also be the source of it. (c)

Q:
have a direct incentive to write bigger, to write simpler, to write more controversially or, conversely, more favorably, to write without having to do any work, to write more often than is warranted. Their paycheck depends on it. It’s no wonder they are vicious, irresponsible, inaccurate, and dishonest. (c)

Q:
Once during a lawsuit I needed to get some information into the public discussion of it, so I dashed off a fake internal memo, printed it out, scanned it, and sent the file to a bunch of blogs as if I were an employee leaking a “memo we’d just gotten from our boss.” The same bloggers who were uninterested in the facts when I informed them directly gladly put up EXCLUSIVE! and LEAKED! posts about it. They could tell my side of the story because I told it to them in words they wanted to hear. More people saw it than ever would have had I issued an “official statement.” (c)

Q:
Bloggers are under incredible pressure to produce, leaving little time for research or verification, let alone for speaking to sources. In some cases, the story they are chasing is so crazy that they don’t want to risk doing research, because the whole facade would collapse. (c)

Q:
comes close to describing a medium in which dominant personalities like tech blogger Robert Scoble can nostalgically repost things on his Google+ account like the “original pitch” for publicity that the iPad start-up Flipboard had sent him.3 It’s a great time to be a media manipulator when your marks actually love receiving PR pitches.

NOT EVEN NEEDING TO BE THE SOURCE

Bloggers are under incredible pressure to produce, leaving little time for research or verification, let alone for speaking to sources. In some cases, the story they are chasing is so crazy that they don’t want to risk doing research, because the whole facade would collapse.
From my experience, bloggers operate by some general rules of thumb: If a source can’t be contacted by e-mail, they probably can’t be a source. I’ve talked to bloggers on the phone only a few times, ever—but thousands of times over e-mail. If background information isn’t publicly or easily available, it probably can’t be included. Writers are at the mercy of official sources, such as press releases, spokesmen, government officials, and media kits. And these are for the instances they even bother to check anything.
Most important, they’re at the mercy of Wikipedia, because that’s where they do their research. Too bad people like me manipulate that too. Nothing illustrates this better than the story of a man who, as a joke, changed the name of comedian and actor Russell Brand’s mother on Wikipedia from Barbara to Juliet. When Brand took his mother as his date to the Academy Awards shortly after, the Los Angeles Times ran the online headline over their picture: “Russell Brand and His Mother Juliet Brand …”
I remember sitting on the couch at Tucker Max’s house one January a few years ago when something occurred to me about his then on-and-off-again bestseller. “Hey Tucker, did you notice your book made the New York Times list in 2006, 2007, and 2008?” (Meaning the book had appeared on the list at least once in all three years, not continuously.) So I typed it up, sourced it, and added it to Wikipedia, delineating each year.* Not long after I posted it, a journalist cribbed my “research” and did us the big favor of having poor reading comprehension. He wrote: “Tucker Max’s book has spent over 3 years on the New York Times Bestseller List.” Then we took this and doubled up our citation on Wikipedia to use this new, more generous interpretation. (c)

Q:
Most important, they’re at the mercy of Wikipedia, because that’s where they do their research. Too bad people like me manipulate that too. Nothing illustrates this better than the story of a man who, as a joke, changed the name of comedian and actor Russell Brand’s mother on Wikipedia from Barbara to Juliet. When Brand took his mother as his date to the Academy Awards shortly after, the Los Angeles Times ran the online headline over their picture: “Russell Brand and His Mother Juliet Brand …” (c)

Q:
Things must be negative but not too negative. Hopelessness, despair—these drive us to do nothing. Pity, empathy—those drive us to do something, like get up from our computers to act. But anger, fear, excitement, or laughter—these drive us to spread. They drive us to do something that makes us feel as if we are doing something, when in reality we are only contributing to what is probably a superficial and utterly meaningless conversation. Online games and apps operate on the same principles and exploit the same impulses: be consuming without frustrating, manipulative without revealing the strings. (c)

Q:
For those who know what levers provoke people to share, media manipulation becomes simply a matter of packaging and presentation. All it takes is the right frame, the right angle, and millions of readers will willingly send your idea or image or ad to their friends, family, and coworkers on your behalf. (c)

Q:
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites. (c)

Q:
... a core principle of our new viral culture: “Humiliation should not be suppressed. It should be monetized.” (c)

Q:
I intentionally exploit their ambivalence about deceiving people. If I am giving them an official comment on behalf of a client, I leave room for them to speculate by not fully addressing the issue. If I am creating the story as a fake tipster, I ask a lot of rhetorical questions: Could [some preposterous misreading of the situation] be what’s going on? Do you think that [juicy scandal] is what they’re hiding? And then I watch as the writers pose those very same questions to their readers in a click-friendly headline. The answer to my questions is obviously, “No, of course not,” but I play the skeptic about my own clients—even going so far as to say nasty things—so the bloggers will do it on the front page of their site. (с)

    favorites menu-reading-is-served

Sondra Sneed

Author2 books6 followers

August 23, 2013

Don't read this book to learn about using media to promote your book. It won't sit well, or if it does, please repent of your darkness and go to the light, find peace and spread it instead.

It is a book so well-written, I read it months ago and it still sticks me like a burr under the saddle. To avoid any miss-characterizations, I'll paste my Amazon review, which was written more closely to the time of reading it.

The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars (on Amazon) is because the content disturbs my better nature. It's not like this book is telling me something I didn't already know, why I don't read the "news" and especially op eds, it's because I'm being shown the truth in despicable realism, and the omni-potent shadow cast is long and cold. In a less poetic way I'd say this book is an uncomfortable stark reality told in bald face matter of factness, like a sociopath describing decapitation.

And just as we are drawn to serial killers' "why do they do it?" - if there were any whys to tell - we are drawn to Holiday's media domination mein kampf with its clean writing. He doesn't gloss over the ugly, but he also doesn't try to rationalize it either.

The ugly is about our consumption of manipulated trash and the machine that manufactures it. Not only are we fed it in the form of media but we are programed to share the disease through our social networks, giving away friends and family, like fire ant killer brought back to the hive.

We feed the media monster with our opt-ins and it spews back what triggers our worst examples of human ability. Media are accomplices to our dis-ability when media was designed to be the opposite. They were designed to make change, to make waste go away and make all that we are come alive with more than just our ability to consume, but our ability to produce. We are not producing a single thing in this world that will save us anymore. Not a single thing. And this book only makes it more obvious without ever once mentioning it.

Jason

Author21 books74 followers

February 25, 2019

The first impression is of a smug, self-satisfied dude-bro bragging about his prowess at manipulation and his exploits as kind of a big deal in the world of contemporary electronic journalism. It makes sense that the author, Holiday, name drops the poor man's Bukowski, Tucker Max, early on and that his biggest claim to fame is working in public relations for reprehensible fashion line American Apparel. We get it: you're horrible, and you're probably a sociopath. I'm sure people in your walk of life are impressed. Your novice readers are not. It's a bit like reading one of those insufferable drug memoirs where it's clear the author is more interested in portraying himself as edgy and cool than inspiring others with his recovery.

Eventually, the book does shift its focus from masturbatory self-congratulation to a cautionary tale about the ethical lapses of bloggers and online journalists. Holiday uses his own experience as a manipulator to show how easily bloggers can be tricked, bribed and persuaded and, in the best parts of the book, demonstrates the effects of this phenomenon on actual victims who've had their reputations ruined by lack of fact-checking and the urge to publish first and often. I don't necessarily buy Holiday's purported epiphany that changed him from exploiter to whistleblower or his earnestness about saving the industry by exposing the truth, but his anecdotes are interesting, his claims are persuasive and he does seem to know a hell of a lot about the state of contemporary journalism. It's interesting that he calls out specific writers by name, namely Jezebel's Irin Carmon and Business Insider's Jim Edwards, but, in each case, Holiday's ax to grind feels uncomfortably personal. In short, it's tough to determine whether the author is performing a public service here or settling old scores.

Also, while his claims are damning and likely true to some extent, it's important to keep Holiday's own admitted culpability in this system in mind. Considering the book's title and the author's present-tense admission in the first paragraph--"I am, to put it bluntly, a media manipulator—I’m paid to deceive"--it's probably best to take some of this with a grain of salt. Accept the basic claim but understand that a whole variety of exaggeration, obfuscation, and omission are likely at work here. That doesn't make any of this useless, just potentially too subjective. It's a good enough book, yet the topic would be better served by someone with less of a clear conflict of interest.

    media nonfiction

Mohammed

481 reviews656 followers

April 20, 2021

صدقني، أنا أكذب
ريان هوليداي

أصدرت إحدى شركات مياه الشرب في بلادي إعلاناً تصور فيه عصابة تقوم بتعذيب شخص بإغراقه في المياه، لكنه يستمتع بالتعذيب لأنهم يغرقونه في مياه حلوة المذاق، وهي مياه الشركة الراعية للإعلان. استنكر الكثيرون الفكرة، وبالتالي قام العديد من المشاهير ورموز المجتمع بنشر مقطع الإعلان مصحوباً بعبارات الاستهجان والنقد. لو فكرت لوهلة، ألم يحقق ذلك للإعلان انتشاراً لم يحلم به؟ ربما لو كانت الشركة ستدفع أجراً لكل مشهور شارك الإعلان على صفحته لكانت تكبدت أضعاف تكلفته الأصلية.

مرحباً بك في شبكة الإنترنت حيث الأخبار المطبوخة على عجالة: أنباء مختلقة، قصص محرفة، تفاصيل مضخّمة وإشاعات يصدقها الجميع، وجدل أجوف يشارك فيه الكبير والصغير.

بصفته خبيراً مشاركاً في اختراق الإعلام والتلاعب بمحتواه، يأخذنا هوليداي وراء الكواليس لنطّلع على أسرار المواقع الإخبارية المنتشرى على الإنترنت. صدقني، لن تستطيع أن تصدق شيئاً بعد اليوم.

يوضح الكاتب أن المواقع الإخبارية تحصل على دخلها عن طريق الإعلانات التي يرتفع سعرها وفقاً لعدد الزيارات. وبناءً عليه فإن هدف الأخبار يتحول من التركيز على نقل الحقيقة إلى استجلاب الزيارات مهما كانت الأساليب رخيصة. هناك عناوين صارخة لا تمت للموضوع بِصلة، هناك تسريبات وهمية ومصادر غامضة ومسارعة إلى إحراز سبق ولو كان من سراب.

يتحدث الكاتب عن بعض مواطن الخلل في صحافة الإنترنت، من ضمنها البناء على الروابط، أي أن الصحفي ينقل عن موقع أو مقال لكاتب آخر دون التحري عن مصداقيته. يتمخض عن ذلك العشرات بل المئات من النصوص غير الموثقة. هذا وقد أورد الكاتب أمثلة على بعض الأخطاء الجسيمة أو المحرجة الناتجة عن النقل المحتوى بتلك الطريقة.

ابتكر البعض مصطلح الصحافة التكرارية، وكان ذلك المذهب عرضة للنقد الشديد من قِبل الكاتب. يَفترض هذا النوع من الصحافة أن القارئ لابد أن يشارك في عملية صناعة الخبر وبالتالي يمكن عرض أي خبر عليه قبل التأكد منه، ومن ثم عرض المستجدات أولاً بأول مشفوعة بالتصحيحات إن وجدت. يرى هوليداي أن هذا النوع يقتل المصداقية وأن القارئ يأخذ بالانطباع الأول فحسب، فمن تشوهت سمعته فلن تشفع له الأخبار التي تعلن براءته لاحقاً. بالإضافة إلى أن هذا الأسلوب يدفع الصحفي للكسل وإلقاء مهامه المتفرضة على القارئ ليؤديها بدلاً منه.

يتضمن الكتاب – بطريقة مباشرة وغير مباشرة- تقنيات التلاعب بالإعلام والتسويق. بإمكان القارئ معرفتها لاستغلالها أو للحذر منها. ولا شك أن النص يتميز بنبرة مؤلفه الاعترافية، فهو يذكر العديد من الألاعيب التي ��ام بها والجدل الذي أثاره من أجل التسويق لبعض المنتجات أو الشخصيات. يحكي هوليداي بأن دافعه للكتابة هو شعوره بأن الأمر خرج عن السيطرة وأن أذى الإعلام الفوضوي قد طال الجميع حتى شخصيات الأعلام نفسها. وهو بهذا يدّعي بأن كتابه كفّارة عن ذنوبه الإعلامية، ولكن من يدري، فلربما كان الكتاب مجرد أسلوب جديد من أساليب التظليل، من الصعب تصديق هوليداي فهو – باعترافه- شخص كاذب.

لم يتحدث الكتاب عن الافتراء والتحوير الإعلامي في سبيل الأهداف الحزبية والسياسية، بل اقتصر حديثه على المكاسب المالية. كما يشوب الكتاب بعض التكرار في المحتوى لكنه لم يصل إلى الحد الذي يصيبني بالملل أو يدفعني لترك الكتاب.

Tim O'Hearn

265 reviews1,171 followers

September 17, 2018

Before the term fake news entered the American lexicon, it was printed here. It's easy to overlook that minor fact because this book turned out to be a groundbreaking critique of media circa 2011 and a prescient take on the outrageous reality we're living in seven years later.

Now is a time where the plurality of the public would consider media manipulation a relevant, if not serious, issue. There is a book with a title that seems awfully similar to the matter at hand. It was written by Ryan Holiday and it's called Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

Ryan Holiday seems to be widely respected in certain circles, but perhaps his past associations and general demeanor have prevented him from gaining the reputation required to make him a household name in households not headed by intellectuals who drink IPAs. On one hand, it's a shame. On the other, critical reception of the book and its author--regardless of what is said--is bound to reinforce the subject matter.

Part criticism of blogs and the modern news cycle, part pariah seeking penance, this is the roadmap of the internet as we know it today. Of course, the blogs mentioned aren't blogs in the general sense but are blogs that cover newsworthy topics. Blogs that overreport and under research. Blogs that ruin careers and create overnight millionaires. There's a vicious cycle of snarkiness, manufactured outrage, and blatant extortion. You can tell that things are a little out of hand when one of the author's final conclusions is that only fools should try to enter the public sphere. Yet, he's guilty, too.

Ryan Holiday has had a fascinating career and the stories recounted here shift some established (though not particularly well-known) narratives drastically. He knows it all and it's not hard to fathom that maybe he really does know it all because whenever you browse the internet after reading this book, all you'll be able to think about is Ryan Holiday. Maybe you'll append " | Media Manipulator" to your LinkedIn header. Please don't.

It's hard to believe that sites like Wikipedia used to be poorly regarded. While teachers were roasting that website ten years ago, the internet caused the reputable news cycle to transform into an ugly beast right before their eyes. The toxicity of less-reputable sites cannot be overstated. To anyone who is able to come away from reading this book without an abject fear of ever being "known": you are bonkers.

Fiona

576 reviews73 followers

March 11, 2019

What did I learn from this book? Basically nothing. Even though I am interested in Marketing Psychology a lot, this book was just boring.

Ben

Author2 books29 followers

August 6, 2012

I hesitated in buying this. Were the reviews on Amazon actually fake like a one star reviewer suggested? Should I believe anything from an admitted liar? But I ended up buying this on James Altucher's recommendation and I'm happy I did.

This is a very important book.

So much of the book reminded me of the philosopher Eric Hoffer, which is about as high of praise as I can give a writer. While Eric Hoffer showed how mass movements evolve back in the 1951 with his book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Ryan Holiday shows how news stories build and spread online, whether the news is true or not. Both Ryan and Eric Hoffer were largely self-educated and both have terrific books on how movements evolve.

Below are some of my thoughts on the book using Eric Hoffer quotes:

"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." - Eric Hoffer

When bloggers and journalists can write about anything, they generally copy stories from each other. Ryan gives examples of how he used this to his advantage. This of course becomes a problem when what they are copying is false information.

"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."

Bloggers tear people and ideas down through snark. Ryan quotes a thoughtful student journalist in the book, "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."

"Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true."

When blogs repeated each others lies and false information, it generally became accepted truth despite being false. Even worse, if the blog admitted it was incorrect, the they would often keep the same headline and just add an update at the bottom.

Concluding Thoughts:
This is a fascinating book. Often insightful while also terrifying, in that it lays out the problems blogs create without any solutions. Though, I don't have any solutions either. It's like saying, "There wouldn't be a drug problem in America if people stopped using drugs." Well, blogging for pageviews is another form of addiction that doesn't have an easy cure. At least we know the root cause of the problem, thanks to this book. If you want to understand how the news and blogs work, this book is a must read.

    2012-reads

Isa K.

Author18 books130 followers

July 11, 2013

I was really digging this book's fascinating insight into how easily the media can be manipulated and exploited. Holiday provides very specific instructions-- particularly a step-by-step guide to baiting journalists and creating fake news.

And I was eating it all up, eagerly adding plots and subplots to my fantasies of world domination ... until I got to the chapters on snark and his analysis about the nature and motivations of snarkers was so wildly off the mark it called the entire book into question.

Holiday starts off with an amusing anecdote about how they warded off a ridiculous lawsuit by filing and even more ridiculous countersuit then leaking documents from both to the blogs. The blog snark made the lawsuit a joke, effectively stripping it of its power. Oooo, how clever!

But then he digresses to the bad side....

Spoiler Alert: snarky bloggers are jealous haters. ...For real, Ryan Holiday? Are you really so surprised that the same bloggers who rip your clients to pieces are warm and friendly to those people in real life? Obviously it's all because they hadn't really meant it. It's just a game for attention.

NO.

I mean really, NO.

Snark is, at its heart, a reaction to an over-commercialized world. Snark bloggers are nice to the subjects of their snark in real life because the target of the snark is not the intended audience. Snark is not a conversation between person making fun of something and the person being made fun of, but a conversation between person making fun of something and everyone else who has to deal with that something.

In our current society everything is commercialized, everything is leveraged, everything is a brand, everything is a product. This is not only unnatural, it's also pretty stressful. When everyone is trying to sell you something, you end up feeling pretty dehumanized.

Snark is a reaction to that. It's a commentary on the people constantly throwing themselves in our faces asking for our attention and our patronage, people like Holiday's clients. And, yes, sometimes it misfires, but not as often as people seem to think.

So while Holiday make several great points about how the dark arts of media manipulation have created a system that sometimes victimizes innocent people ... snark is not a part of that and it was annoyingly disingenuous to see an author with a major book deal basically whine about how people occasionally make fun of him when he's trying to badger them into paying attention to his self promotion.

Elizabeta

155 reviews45 followers

May 29, 2016

DNF 40%. A blog post can explain how blogs work, you don't need a whole book. Moving on...

    dnf

Eric Gardner

48 reviews9 followers

August 6, 2012

For all of its provocative marketing, Trust Me I'm Lying is really just a phenomenal critique on the modern media industry. Holiday brilliantly displays how the ecosystem of the page view driven media is a structural extension of the sub prime era. With that, he also shows how to exploit it. My only complaint is that he uses only a handful of examples (American Apparel, Tucker Max) but that is result of youth, not insights.

It should be on the bookshelf of every marketer for the insights on how to turn a pitch into a story.
It should be on the bookshelf of every political science major for the insights in what drives the media.
It should be on the bookshelf of anyone who wants to generate a movement.

I would find it hard not to recommend this book to anyone.

Ryan

348 reviews46 followers

August 29, 2019

I'm not sure exactly what I expected when I started reading this book, but I feel like my expectations were exceeded in a good way.

The book is split into two parts. The first is like a playbook for manipulating the media to generate free press coverage. It recounts many of the PR stunts Holiday manufactured to get free publicity for Tucker Max and American Apparel.

The second part is an in-depth look at the incentives driving Internet news, and how those incentives have created an ocean of noise with almost no substance. I especially appreciated his critical analysis of what some bloggers have labeled "iterative journalism." Holiday points out the obvious damage iterative journalism causes, and shows that corrections and retractions are essentially worthless.

Ultimately, Holiday paints a dark and disturbing picture without any clear answers. He concludes, "From here we get the defining feature of our world today: a blurred line between what is real and what is fake; what actually happens and what is staged; and, finally, between the important and the trivial." (p. 220)

While this is a solid read, two things bothered me:

1. On page 136, Holiday spends about a page criticizing James O'Keefe and his brand of undercover journalism. Worse, he uses the same old tired arguments against O'Keefe that have been leveled by the mainstream media for years... arguments that have been proven baseless. Holiday's rant is supported by only one piece of (poorly explained) evidence. The rest is just assertions Holiday wants the reader to take at face value. No, thanks.

Ironically, Trust Me, I'm Lying and O'Keefe's American Pravda are perfect companion books since they both deal heavily with the issue of fake news.

2. The other thing that bothered me about Trust Me, I'm Lying is that Holiday is/was a brazen media manipulator who is now criticizing media manipulators. I understand, this is is supposed to be a confessional and mea culpa all rolled into one, and more than once Holiday acknowledges the apparent hypocrisy of his criticisms.

But you can tell Holiday is still quite proud of the work that he did for his clients. He even talks about the "trophies on his wall" from previous PR coverage he engineered. So are you proud or repentant? I can't tell.

Then in the final chapter, he criticizes Nick Denton for his hypocrisy. He writes: "In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, Denton claimed he was on a 'jihad' inside Gawker 'against fake news.' It's an irony almost too much to bear, from him or from virtually all bloggers. It's like Kim Kardashian complaining about how fake reality TV shows are." (p. 230)

Um, isn't it also like Ryan Holiday complaining about how easy it is to manipulate the media? Yes. Yes, it is. To his credit, Holiday seems to have abandoned his career as a media manipulator and is now promoting the virtues of stoicism and print books.

Conclusion: Despite its few glaring flaws, this is a well-written book that deserves to be read by anybody who creates or consumes media.

    advertising behavioral-science business

Avinash (pookreads)

33 reviews27 followers

May 12, 2015

Often terrifying but insightful this is a well-written book by Ryan Holiday about his work as a media strategist and how he manipulates the media.

4 points you'll agree with after reading this book:

1. You'll really start doubting the contents you read online after you are done with this book.

2. You won't look at websites, the same way again.

3. This book will "ruined" the internet for you.

4. Truth given away in plain and simple way which at times will leave you fuming with anger at no one in particular.

This quote by Eric Hoffer sums up my way of using internet very well:
"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other."

    favorites re-read

ScienceOfSuccess

110 reviews210 followers

January 14, 2019

Quite interesting view at blogs and how people use them for free publicity.

    waiting

Derick Lawson

110 reviews1 follower

September 11, 2014

It's always disappointing to learn I am contributing to the downfall or humanity by reading and giving serious thought to junk articles.

Popy Tobing

78 reviews6 followers

October 22, 2016

I shall give this book 3 and a half star. The book actually scares me, if all the feed of the media is a game, you never know what to trust anymore. And maybe, maybe you and I are part of the game.

Matt

226 reviews

September 16, 2012

Great book to understand the way blogs actually work. To understand how what we consider reality is often manufactured by PR strategists (read media manipulators).

A great quote:

Words like "developing", "exclusive", and "sources" are incongruent with our long-held assumptions about what they mean or what's behind them. Bloggers use these "substance words" to give status to their flimsy stories. They use the language of Woodward and Bernstein but apply it to a media world that would make even Hearst queasy. They use what George W. S. Trow called "abandoned shells". loc.3257

Here are my reading notes:

# How blogs work
Bloggers are constantly looking for something to publish
More pageviews = more ad impressions = more money = bigger salaries for bloggers

### Trading up the food chain
Getting something to be published on a small blog is easier
Unfortunately it is more and more conventional to quote another blog as a source
The smaller blogs become sources for the medium-sized blogs and the medium-sized blogs become sources for the big fish
The top of the food chain is occupied by TV stations and reputated newspapers (CNN, NYT, etc)

### The valence of the emotion brings shares/clicks
Extreme emotions will encourage sharing
Some emotions are better than others (good = anger/happiness/humour — bad = sadness)

### Headlines
Headlines do not have to be 100% accurate, they just need to drive traffic
A leak might subtly recommend a headline for the story

### Death by cuteness
SEO has become a science
Headlines and picture/video titles are reworked to attract more people
Recommendations and filters lead users from one page to the next, from one ad to another
lolcatz, fail pictures, and other memes are low-quality content easy to aggregate and bundle with associated ads
This leads to unproductive time wasted in a bubble of cuteness

### The link economy
The link becomes the unit of sharing
We are moving from a content economy to a link economy. Links have value, content less.
Blog articles have the one-off problem: what matters is attracting viewers, not retaining them
Subscriptions help in solving the one-off problem but subscriptions are not the norm
It's unproductive to blame bloggers, the incentives are the ones that are making the system work

# Conclusion
The dominant medium is changing from TV to the internet. As Postman stated, the dominant medium becomes the culture.
Our new culture is then dominated by the worship of traffic.
TV had to make us keep watching. The internet has to make us keep sharing.

The casualties of this new unreality are:

- the violation of our minds through marketing
- reality, truth
- importance

# Mitigation techniques
Maintain journalistic integrity
Do not trust blogs as a primary source
Beware of cuteness
Break the circle of one blog feeding another with silence
Subscribe to news sources
Value content over speed of delivery
Make time for long articles
Look for the important news. Don't wait for it to bubble up

Arlene

75 reviews6 followers

March 7, 2013

If you consume social media, you should read this book. Even if you consume only mainstream media, you should read this book. The two are inextricably intertwined—and frankly, it’s a little scary.

Ryan Holiday exposes the problems that arise when people without journalistic training or ethics use journalistic tools. He asks the legitimate question: When did it become our job to do the fact checking? Isn’t that their job? He lays bare the “publish first, investigate later” practice of blogging that shapes today’s news.

Trust Me, I’m Lying is a book in two parts.

First, Holiday describes the many-armed blogging system, or what he calls “the monster.” He gives a mea culpa version of his own dubious past in media manipulation. Emails from fake names, leaked documents, planted comments, fake scandals—he lays it out in eye-widening detail. He describes how blogging works, the economics of it, and how easily manipulated it is, because of how it works and the economics of it. Bloggers “lie, distort and attack” to get the most clicks and page-views, and more money. They “speculate, rush, exaggerate, distort and mislead” for page-views and clicks. They don’t confirm sources, so anyone can send them any rumour and they will pass it on unchecked, for page-views and clicks.

The second part of the book delves into the effect this is having on our society. Have you noticed a high level of “snark” on line? Yep. Snark generates page views and clicks, even as the cruel comments leave reputations and careers smouldering in the aftermath. Corrections, if they happen at all, are posted to generate—you guessed it—more page-views and clicks. Corrections only make things worse. They “pass along rumours as fact and rehash post from other blogs without checking them. It’s impossible to fight back against that. The Internet is the problem here, not the solution,” he writes.

Here’s some of his advice from “How to Read a Blog”:
•"When you see ‘Sources tell us . . .’ know that these sources are not vetted, they are rarely corroborated, and they are desperate for attention.
•"When you see ‘Updated’ on a story or article know that no one actually bothered to rework the story in light of the new facts—they just copied and pasted some sh*t at the bottom of the article.”
•"When you see ‘We’re hearing reports’ know that reports could mean anything from random mentions on Twitter to message board posts, or worse.”

You get the idea.

We can’t take the internet out of the hands of bloggers; it’s too big and too wide for that. What we can do is change our awareness level and build up our cynicism muscles, so we don’t believe rumours so quickly, and we won’t add that one extra click or link to an unsubstantiated rumour.

We need to change our habits.

Aaron Goldfarb

Author14 books47 followers

July 23, 2012

What Boorstin's "The Image" was to the 1960s, "Trust Me..." is to the pseudo-events of today's (too fast) internet age. Holiday pulls back the curtain on machinations that, unless you are an idiot, you knew had to be happening. And it's f*cking scary. One of the most important books of 2012.

Arun Divakar

802 reviews403 followers

June 8, 2018

Note : Long rant.

A few days after finishing this book and as an exercise of idle curiosity, I took a more detailed look at the newspaper over the weekend. Interestingly of the 16 or so pages worth of printed material, I could piece together perhaps a half page of news that had even the slightest shade of brightness in it. Everything else was a literal punch to the gut - molestations, murder, theft, rape, accidents, trauma, anti-terrorist action, political farces etcetera. Now this was just a day’s paper and it is certainly not an isolated incident. One can then step back a couple of paces to think who would want to read or watch TV shows about positivity a great deal ? And this too at a time when everyone is hooked perennially on to the internet and the average life of a new item is a few minutes at the most.

An idea that Holiday propounds in his book that the objective of news is not to educate or inform, it is merely to startle and polarize and this when viewed in light of these facts becomes a truth that stares us in the face. In this connection,Tim Ferris on making a rather interesting observation about how to influence behavior online :

..the top stories all polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3 B's—behavior, belief, or belongings—you get a huge virus-like dispersion.

This is such a common place thing online that as a user we do not think twice about it anymore. Articles written with the specific objective of irking people by dangling opinions or deliberate ambiguity, polarizing statements that would surely bring out the knives in opposing camps and purposefully provocative opinions sheathed well in polished language are all marks of how they herd readers into different camps. The post goes online and sure enough there is a barrage of comments under such an article.

How many times would you have logged in online and then dove headfirst into arguments and mudslinging matches with absolute strangers ? In the course of the said argument there are questions on each other’s mental stability, family trees and genealogy and even ancestry or other such things which you have no reason or right to know. And all of this will be in full view of every other person reading the comments and in the most colorful of vocabularies. The answer to this question might be that no you never did so as a person but you see this happen.

The reasons for such arguments are dime a dozen - political debates, whether my actor or your actor is better, football/cricket clubs and teams, is DC better than Marvel, Zack Snyder v/s the MCU and so on and on. Notice anything familiar here ? You can vent your whole ire against someone who fiercely opposes your comments online and fire off arguments and verbal assaults all over the place but once you log off , the only people who really won were the site owners and the advertisers. You might sleep that night with a peace of mind that yes I ripped a new one for that person who opposed me but the owners of the site would be laughing all the way to the bank. In short your righteous indignation was effortlessly turned into money by someone else. Holiday sums it up as :

No smart marketer is ever going to push a story with the stink of reasonableness, complexity, or mixed emotions. We want to rile people up. We want to provoke you into talking.

Before reading this book, while I did have faint ideas about how the system worked it was by no means a well-articulated set of thoughts. Holiday ties up most of these threads together and tells us with examples how the hustle is delivered. In quite simple words what lies beneath the facade of truth, justice, fairness and other such hefty stuff as heralded by the media is a simple byword : profit. How many clicks did your news item generate ? How many comments did it gather ? How many people watched your news program ? When the stock is taken this is what matters and if you thought otherwise, well how does it feel to be a sucker ?

A few days ago in my state, a social worker who was helping the sibling of a murder victim was accused of swindling money. The news item blazed across various media outlets including the social media space. Journalists and bloggers swarmed the person for opinions and the talking heads on news debates traded verbal blows and kept doing what they did best. A few days later it came to light that there was no element of truth behind the accusations and that the investigations have been dropped. This however was a whimper compared to the storms the earlier article generated. This is where the relevance of a core principle of our new viral culture becomes evident that :

“Humiliation should not be suppressed. It should be monetized.”

Among other things, Holiday’s book has made me wary of media in every form and I spend a little bit more of time thinking of where possibly this news might have come up from. While skimming comments, I also do play a guessing game with myself to try and figure out the paid comments, reviews and opinions. In a time where news items disappear faster than you blink, shallow and plainly bland people can become viral sensations overnight and a call to arms over social media can lead to violent lynch mobs it pays to be a more attentive and careful reader.

Holiday is like a quintessential untrustworthy narrator, he keeps telling you that : look I did it and I will do it again for money but now I have a prick of conscience and let me get you in on some tradecraft. Beyond some obvious stuff about wanting to shed the weight of what he did and how he did it, there is no real motivation of why he decided to tell us readers about all this. And as far as you know any seasoned professional who works in lucrative jobs, the day they tell you all their trade secrets is the day they go to their grave. This could be true for Holiday too for he keeps his best cards closest to his chest. In the second half of the book there are also certain personal axes he grinds rather heavily and while this book is rather upfront on taking names, the incidents highlighted in part 2 appeared to be cases of rather personal nature. So overall I took it all with a rather generous pinch of salt.

The next time you see a post on your FB feed, bristle and decide to post a befitting reply, remember this :

Hopelessness, despair—these drive us to do nothing. Pity, empathy—those drive us to do something, like get up from our computers to act. But anger, fear, excitement, laughter, and outrage—these drive us to spread. They drive us to do something that makes us feel as if we are doing something, when in reality we are only contributing to what is probably a superficial and utterly meaningless conversation.

If this entire rant did not convince you that I recommend this book, then I rest my case.

LaCitty

881 reviews167 followers

September 30, 2019

Saggio molto interessante sul tema delle fake news: come nascono, come si propagano, effetti (per lo più negativi...) sulla vita reale.
Scrittura molto scorrevole, l'unica pecca è che alcuni concetti sono ripetuti 1000 volte. Cmq lettura assolutamente interessante per aprire gli occhi su quello che il web sta facendo al mondo dell'informazione

    ebook psico

Janet Newport

471 reviews111 followers

February 23, 2020

Hmmm....

Well, I'm not really sure that I understood everything I think I know.

I've known what a time-suck the internet can be. I've lost entire mornings falling into that "rabbit hole". I continue to use the internet regularly/x times daily... for weather forecasts, my Dear Abby fix, look up recipes, Goodreads and other book sites (local library included), to pay bills, shopping, get current tax rates, etc., etc., etc. It's creepy how the internet has started "stalking" me -- via ads on regularly viewed pages, Amazon e-mails and so forth.

I will continue to log-on regularly. Hopefully I will fall into further "rabbit holes". I'm starting to feel my skin crawl and itch due to the online "creeps".

    2020-reads birmingham-library kindle-books

Emily

933 reviews111 followers

August 4, 2015

I will never believe anything I read on the internet ever again.

So maybe that's a little overboard, and I've always been, let's say, a skeptical reader of online sources, but I was floored at the deliberate and blatant manipulation Ryan Holiday describes in Trust Me, I'm Lying.

As Holiday puts it, "what rules over the media...rules over the country." How many times have you seen a single sensational story practically take over the media cycle, shunting dozens of other more worthy, more fundamentally-vital-to-life-on-this-planet stories to the side?

Follow the money, Holiday says. It's all about the clicks, the pageviews, the number of eyeballs that will see a story. The more sensational a story, the higher the views and the more money advertisers can charge. Holiday derisively calls this "pageview journalism" - though I quibble with using the term "journalism" to describe it at all - blogging with little regard for facts or accuracy just to get people on the site.

Pageview journalism puffs blogs up and fattens them on a steady diet of guaranteed traffic pullers of a mediocre variety that require little effort to produce. It pulls writers and publishers to the extremes, and only to the extremes--the shocking and the already known...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.

Holiday also brings up what makes a post go viral. Virality is, of course, what media manipulators are shooting for. And he quotes research that confirms my observations on social media: "the most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes." No wonder we see so much outrage all over the interwebs! It's what sells! It's what moves people to action! (But most often only the very limited action of clicking the "share" button, not actual action that would change the world in a positive direction. Hence, the rise of the term "clicktivist." But I digress.)

Of course, anger isn't the only emotion that prompts people to share:

A powerful predictor of whether content will spread online is valence, or the degree of positive or negative emotion a person is made to feel. Both extremes are more desirable than anything in the middle...No marketer is ever going to push something with the stink of reasonableness, complexity, or mixed emotions.

As a marketer, Holiday's job is straightforward. "Behind the scenes I work to crank up the valence of articles, relying on scandal, conflict, triviality, titillation, and dogmatism. Whatever will ensure transmission." In this field, "Nuance is a weakness."

Which is why the "reasonableness [and] complexity" I crave are so often missing in online discussions. When the extremes are what sells, when heightened emotions pay the bills, calm, reasoned discourse isn't high on the priority list.

The ease with which people can make up "news stories" out of the flimsiest of "facts" is disturbing. Careful, manipulative editing, mischaracterization and subtly misleading phrasing, and manufactured urgency are all basic tactics to get a "story" on a small blog. It then gets passed "upward to bigger and more credible outlets, which simply link to the previous report and don't bother to verify it." Once even a non-story gets enough online buzz, the buzz itself becomes the story and more legit outlets feel justified in picking it up. Doing real, deep, difficult investigative journalism is hard and time-consuming. "Getting it right is expensive, getting it first is cheap." And getting it first gets you lots and lots of pageviews, even if you get every detail wrong.

There is such a human cost to this mentality...

To read the rest of this review, visit Build Enough Bookshelves.

    non-fiction

Katy O.

2,583 reviews713 followers

December 11, 2019

EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK. I was 75% there already, but after reading this I now believe only maybe 5% of what I read online, and only if it’s confirmed by NPR and hadn’t been updated or retracted after 2 days 🙄

And yes there are some parts that are repetitive but I’m willing to put up with that. This book isn’t new but the edition I read was an updated edition in 2017 and things in our media society have just gotten worse since this was written and updated. Read it, then back away from the outrage p*rn and stop sharing absolute garbage on social media 🤷🏼‍♀️

    adult-reads audiobooks nonfiction

Matt Quann

700 reviews414 followers

August 5, 2015

3.5 Stars. Have you ever sat in front of the computer to set into your work only to come up for air an hour later having done nothing but watch videos of small animals? Do you ever wonder why online articles seem to exist solely to provoke you into righteous anger? In an attempt to explain the changing nature of online journalism and the eruption of news-blog coverage, self-titled "media manipulator" Ryan Holiday seeks to shed light on the seedy underbelly of the internet with "Trust Me, I'm Lying." Roughly divided into two halves, "Trust Me, I'm Lying" begins with a section detailing how online "news" is able to travel so quickly and propagate without proper evidence. This opening half exposes not only the process by which the information travels, but also the economic incentives that drive websites and bloggers to their modern practices. I was rapt during this section, enjoying the pull-back of the curtain on the day-to-day online experiences that I encounter. The facts are both interesting and revealing, and are well-delivered by Holiday's surprisingly easy to read style; however, in the second half of the book, the content dissolves into petty and less-focused reading.
Pulling from his experiences with his somewhat dubious client base (including Tucker Max and American Apparel), Holiday details instances in which the media has fallen prey to the manipulation explained in the opening sections. Some of the passages read as self-righteous, while some of the writing is capped with obnoxious and immature one-liners. While not all the chapters fall flat in this division, I found myself reading very similar stories page after page. Though he does admit that it was not his goal in the conclusion, Holiday offers no suggestions as to how the deeply flawed system he presents could be repaired. While some readers may revel in Holiday getting the one-up on a blogger after a successful and provocative ad campaign, I found it to be kind of a drag compared to the strong opening section.
Despite my reservations about the second half of the book, it is worth reading if only to gain a better understanding of the ways in which online media has become an aberration of journalism rather than an advancement. Moreover, the book is quite short and reads easily enough to be finished in a few days. I enjoyed "Trust Me, I'm Lying" much more than I expected, and I am sure that the read could be appreciated by a large audience for the universality of the internet experience. Be sure to check this one out, but don't be surprised if it doesn't keep your interest through to the end.

Laura Noggle

692 reviews505 followers

February 25, 2019

If you ever had any doubts before ... this book will confirm all your media fears.

“The most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes.”

"If news doesn’t go viral or get feedback, then the news needs to be changed. If news does go viral, it means the story was a success—whether or not it was accurate, in good taste, or done well."

Awareness is key.

Lots of hard truths.

“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.”

    2017 business nonfiction

Ana

2,386 reviews375 followers

December 19, 2022

While I'm iffy about the claims issued in some parts of the book, overall I found this an interesting read.

    21st-century business non-fiction

Mya

72 reviews38 followers

August 22, 2021

I think this book is a must read for the people of today's society, because it truly is scary just how manipulated and manipulating our world around is.

Michael Jr.

Author10 books62 followers

August 14, 2012

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
By: Ryan Holiday
Hardcover, 288 pages Published July 19th 2012 by Portfolio Hardcover
ISBN13: 9781591845539

Overall 3 out of 5 stars

My system is set up to review fiction novels, so I will have to adapt a bit. I received this copy of Trust Me, I'm Lying in a Goodreads.com giveaway, which I have been having some good luck with lately, enough to have a hard time keeping up on reviewing them. I received a signed copy, so I guess I feel pretty cool right now.

It's not that there is anything wrong with this book that I am giving it 3 stars, it simply did not entertain me enough to warrant higher, or lower. Ryan Holiday built most of his reputation and education working in public relations with Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and for American Apparel. Holiday tells some of the behind the scenes stories of "news" stories that have grabbed the spotlight in recent years. This behind the scenes look includes how he has manipulated the system to grab positive attention for his employers and fend of negative attention, as well as how the world of blogging is flawed in its fundamental structure.

A lot of what Holiday reveals about the underbelly of internet media is shocking to say the least. It's not as if we don't know how it works, but when Holiday lays it all out so you can easily see the cause and effect, you will be left with no desire to ever read an internet blog again. This subject was quite interesting to me because, being an aspiring author without a publisher or literary agent, I need to find a way to get my work out there on my own. I was hopeful that maybe there was some dark magic to be revealed in Holiday's writing, but sadly not for me. I even tried one of Holiday's techniques without any success, no that it did not work in his world, but these are not universal tactics.

It would be grand if Holiday ended this on a positive note, but he couldn't even if he wanted to. No matter how much he reveals, the internet world of page views and advertising will keep us all being feed gossip, lies, and half truths as long as people keep clicking on the headline, and they will.

Creativity 3 out of 5 stars

Again, it's not has if Holiday had to come up with a gripping fiction plot, he is just telling his version of some events that he has been a part of. It is like my police leadership guides, you really can't give me creativity points for writing about what I do for a living, can you?

Characters N/A

Spelling and Grammar 4 out of 5 stars

Some of the normal run on sentences or confusing sections that had to be re-read but certainly nothing distracting like some books I have read that are so bad, you just start looking for the errors instead of reading.

Execution 3 out of 5 stars

Holiday worked with what he had. Ironically, just like he talks about in the book pertaining to people simply not being very interested in fact based news that is supported by evidence, he subject just isn't sensational enough for me to get all giddy about. That is quite a sad truth that Holiday repeatedly comes back to in the book and I give 3 out of 5 stars to support his beliefs. Holiday often repeats himself in the book and I assume that is because he believes in what he is saying and really wants to make people understand.

I enjoyed Trust Me, I'm Lying as I think anyone that is into social media, blogs, self-promotion, advertising, conspiracies, et cetera would also enjoy giving this a read, maybe in ebook or something though, I can't see forking over hardback money for this.

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (2024)

FAQs

What is trust me I'm lying about? ›

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Ryan Holiday unveils the inner workings of the modern media and how it's manipulated, exposing the flaws in the current online advertising model and the danger of misinformation. It's an eye-opening read for anyone who consumes media.

What is the theme of trust me? ›

Trust Me explores manipulation and misinformation at the intersection of human nature and information technology. It explains how that drives a need for media literacy.

Is trust me a true story? ›

We've tried to draw on real-life accounts and motivations in coming up with the plot, although it's obviously a fiction. But the idea of health workers deliberately harming patients is very real, and of course terrifying when you are in such a vulnerable position.

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Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.