Cute But Evil (mostly written by Ryan Holiday)

I am currently reading “Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator,” by Ryan Holiday.

The following section really hit me…

“You sit down to your computer to work. Five minutes later you’re on your fifth YouTube video of talking babies. What happened? Do you just not have any self-control? Sorry, but self-control has got nothing to do with it. Not when the clip was deliberately made more attractive by subliminally embedded images guaranteed to catch your attention. Not when the length of the video was calibrated to be precisely as long as average viewers are statistically most likely to watch.

Would you also be surprised to hear that the content of the video was designed around popular search terms? And that the title went through multiple iterations to see which got the most clicks? And what if the video you watch after this one (and the one after that and after that) had been recommended and optimized by YouTube with the deliberate intention of making online video take up as much time in your life as television does?

No wonder you can’t get any work done. They won’t let you.”

My stomach turns a bit as I recognize that I’ve dabbled in some of these dark arts. They feel artificial.

Questions:

How do you feel about the above quote as a consumer?

How do you feel about the above quote as a business person? Or, how do you feel as one who might be in a position to use tactics like the ones above?

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