“Trust Me, I’m Lying” Quotes

Here’s the quotes I found most interesting from “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday. As always, if you find these quotes interesting, please buy the book.

“Not only is the web susceptible to spreading false information, but it can also be the source of it.” (27)

“Every decision a publisher makes is ruled by one dictum: traffic by any means.” (33)

“Established media doesn’t have this problem. They aren’t anxious for name recognition, because they already have it. Instead of bending the rules (and the truth) to get it, their main concern for their business model is to protect their reputations. This is a critical difference. Media was once about protecting a name; on the web it is about building one.” (35)

“Each blog is its own mini-Ponzi scheme, for which traffic growth is more important than solid financials, brand recognition more important than trust, and scale more important than business sense. Blogs are built so someone else will want it – one stupid buyer cashing out the previous ones – and millions of dollars are exchanged for essentially worthless assets.” (37)

“Influence is ultimately the goal of most blogs and blog publishers, because that influence can be sold to a larger media company.” (38)

“If something is a total bummer, people don’t share it.” (62)

“The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger.” (63)

“Regardless of the topic, the more an article makes someone feel good or bad, the more likely ti 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.” (64)

“Rob Walker wrote for The Atlantic that a core principle of our new viral culture: “Humiliation should not be suppressed. It should be monetized.” Instead of being ashamed of this crappy television journalism, CNBC was able to make extra money from the millions of views it generated.” (67)

“Brian Moylan, a Gawker writer, once bragged, the key is to “get the whole story into the headline but leave out just enough that people will want to click.” (70)

“Adolph Ochs, like most great businessmen, understood that doing things differently was the way to great wealth.” (80)

“Outside of the subscription model, headlines are not intended to represent the contents of articles but to sell them – to win the fight for attention against an infinite number of other blogs or papers.” (92)

“Each headline competes with every other headline. ON a blog, every page is the front page.” (92)

“They aren’t going to write about you, your clients, or your story unless it can be turned into a headline that will drive traffic.” (93)

“Blogs are so afraid of silence that the flimsiest of evidence can confirm they’re on the right track. You can provide this by leaving fake comments to articles about you or your company from blocked IP addresses – good and bad to make it clear that there is a hot debate. Send fake emails to the reporter, positive and negative. This rare kind of feedback cements the impression that you or your company make for high-valence material, and the blog should be covering you.” (102)

“Small, short paragraphs (one to two sentences versus three to five) seem to encourage slightly higher reading rates, as does a bolded introduction or subheadline.” (110)

“You can give the same made-up exclusive to multiple blogs, and they’ll all fall over themselves to publish first. Throw in an arbitrary deadline, like “we’re going live with this on our website first thing in the morning,” and even the biggest blogs will forget fact-checking and make bold pronouncements on your behalf.” (115)

“The media doesn’t mind being played, because they get something out of it – namely pageviews, ratings, and readers.” (136)

“America spends more than fifty billion minutes a day on Facebook.” (141)

“Psychologists call this “narcotizing dysfunction,” when people come to mistake the busyness of the media with real knowledge, and confuse spending time consuming that with doing something.” (144)

“This is the exact reaction that web content is designed to produce. To keep you so cuaght up and consumed with the bubble that you don’t even realize you’re in one.” (144)

“May becomes is becomes has, I tell my clients. That is, on the first site the fact that someone “may” be doing something becomes the fact that they “are” doing something by the time it has made the rounds. The next time they mention your name, they look back and add the past tense to their last assertion, whether or not it actually happened.” (154)

“Being right is more important to the person being written about than the person writing. So who do you think blinks first?” (161)

“To not be petrified of a shakedown, a malicious lie, or an unscrupulous rival planting stories is to be unimportant. You only have nothing to fear if you’re a nobody. And even then, well, who knows?” (164)

“The pressure to “get something up” is inherently at odds with the desire to “get things right.”” (168)

“We no longer discuss if rumors are true, only that they are being talked about right now.” (170)

“The reality is that while the Internet allows content to be written iteratively, the audience does not read or consume it iteratively. Each member usually sees what he or she sees a single time – a snapshot of the process and makes his or her conclusions from that.” (183)

“The more extreme a headline, the longer participants spend processing it, and the more likely they are to believe it. The more times an unbelievable claim is seen, the more likely they are to believe it.” (185)

“The media and the public are supposed to be on the same side. The media, when it’s functioning properly, protects the public against marketers and their ceaseless attempts to trick people into buying things. I’ve come to realize that is not how it is today. Marketers and the media – me and the bloggers – we’re on the same team, and way too often you are played into watching with rapt attention as we deceive you. And you don’t even know that’s going on because the content you get has been dressed up and fed to you as news.” (194)

“Snark is profitable and easy for blogs. It’s the perfect device for people with nothing to say but who have to talk (blog) for a living.” (197)

“The proper response to fakeness is not to ineffectually lob rocks at palace windows but to coherently and ceaselessly articulate the problems with the dominant institutions. To stand for and not simply against. But blogger of this generation, of my generation, are not those types of people. They are not leaders. They lack the strength and energy to do anything about “the age of doublespeak and idiocy.” All that is left is derision.” (201)

“The people who thrive under snark are exactly those who we wish would go away, and the people we value most at 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.” (205)

“The online media cycle is not a process for developing truth but for performing a kind of cultural catharsis. Blogs served the hidden function of dispensing public punishments.” (208)

“The news funnel:
All that happens -> All that’s known by the media -> all that is newsworthy -> all that is published as news -> all that spreads.

In other words, the media is a mechanism for systematically limiting the information seen by the public.” (218)

“We live in a media world that desperately needs context and authority but can’t find any because we destroyed the old markers and haven’t created reliable new ones. As a result, we couch new things in old terms that are really just husks of what they once were. Skepticism will never be enough to combat this. Not even enough to be a starting point.” (227)

“The central question for the Internet is not, Is this entertaining? but, Will this get attention? Will it spread?” (231)

“When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information? Most readers have abandoned even pretending to consider this. I imagine it’s because they’re afraid of the answer: There isn’t a thing we can do with it. There is no practical purpose in our lives for most of what blogs produce other than distraction.” (234)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book!

One Reply to ““Trust Me, I’m Lying” Quotes”

  1. This is a really good post. I love the comments and I’ve been trying to find a good site with good quotes from the book. Good job.

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