Would I lie to you?

I recently received an e-mail from a best-friend of mine who previously lived and worked in Cairo for several years. His view of what was going on was very different to the one I had formed from the varied US media I had been gleaning information from. He also included a couple of e-mails from Egyptian friends of his reporting from Cairo. Again, a very different view than the one I had developed. And I thought of Stephen Colbert and “truthiness” — “anyone can read the news to you – I promise to feel the news at you.” Funny thing is he is honestly admitting what many news outlets do and yet swear to “accuracy.”

In my history book club we have read books on Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan, but one quickly realizes that there is little reliable first-person history about them. So people make educated guesses. And then write books. And we can so easily find ourselves arguing, fighting, investing in “truth” that is a viewpoint from a single source or partisan group.

Some people who find out I am in advertising say (hopefully in jest), “Ahh you lie to me to get me to buy things I don’t want or need.” To which I reply, “what’s your point?” :) But really, as I say in my lectures, it is an agency’s job to find a compelling truth or truths so people can first figure out what we are selling (no matter whether it is a product, service or viewpoint) and then decide whether they want to buy it. Because this message is delivered via some form of commercial people automatically run it through their own “truthiness” filter. That filter is largely turned off when reading non-fiction or watching the news. So be careful: question where “news” and “knowledge” are coming from and whose “truth” you are buying, and know that your gut and your brain pass unintentional lies back and forth every day. I mean it. Honestly.

Simon Dixon, Idea Engineering, CEO

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