The Perfect Manipulation

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

I read a blog post yesterday that was the most perfect manipulation I've ever seen in my life. It was SO expertly crafted that I thought I'd write about it.

It was a blog post about a controversy that didn't exist, one that involved me. Here are the elements that make this blog post a deliberately-crafted manipulation, meant to make you feel certain things and believe certain things… things that aren't even true.

  1. The post basically starts with my name and company name when the topic is not about me at all. I guess my name does well for search engine placement?
  2. The post starts by calling me a friend to the writer. This sets you up to believe that maybe I agree with the author, or we discussed this content, or I approved of what he's going to say. Because we're friends, right? He tells you we're friends, so you think that he's not there to hurt me. He's going to help his friend, she says sarcastically.
  3. The post then links to another blog post where someone decided it was a good idea to personally smear me by pulling quotes out of context from my blog and pointing at other disconnected things to try to discredit me and get you to think I'm a bitch. So this blog post written by my "friend" starts out with not only a link to the other blog post that seeks to discredit me, but a giant QUOTE from that other blog post. Let's make SURE that before you hear about anything in this "controversy," that you are GOOD and informed about what a loser one person thinks I am. :)
  4. The blog post then actually AGREES with something I had said relating to this non-controversy.
  5. But don't be suspended by that too long! The post continues calling me by name, and says "on a personal note…" It launches into PARAGRAPHS that include disinformation techniques like trying to talk me out of trying to "slow the growth" of another company.
    1. I have that power? I have the power to blog about some weird information I saw on a website, and SLOW the growth of a company? I don't remember seeing that power on Heroes. :)
    2. The post was written so that you would think that I was trying to do hurt another company. That's now your impression, among other falsely planted impressions.
    3. And with "a personal note" from my FRIEND (of course), you should imagine us sitting together on a dock, his arm around me, as we have this heart-to-heart… this important, personal talk that he had to put publicly in his blog. :)
  6. The post says some nice things about my company. But don't be suspended by that too long! That's in there just enough so that you'll keep thinking that the author and I are friends or colleagues of some sort.
  7. You don't get the chance to make up your mind about me when the first data you get are anti-me things. You don't get to decide how you think about what statements I made that the author is responding to because he never quotes my statement. He "responds" to things I never said, and he quotes someone smearing me… but never quotes what I said that is supposedly such a hot controversy that he had to write this. 
  8. So you just went for "The Ride." You were taken down a deliberate path of carefully-chosen words, and the perfect order of things.
  9. Hey, blog post author, don't forget to get YOUR linked company name
    worked into this hot hot article! Get my name in the tags, your company
    name in the tags, everybody's name in the tags. This is all about
    search placement, isn't it.
  10. In the comments and discussion under the blog post, the author even went further, and agreed MORE with what I had been saying or trying to say. I think he and I are in nearly total agreement about this non-controversy and my original statements and observations.
  11. Also in the blog comments? A comment from the CEO of the company I supposedly want to hurt. He seemed to be saying that he understood my original comments, and could see how I had the opinion I had. He said he didn't see any controversy, but was happy that traffic to his site spiked because of all the fuss. 
  12. So there is no problem. There is no controversy. The author and I are in agreement. The CEO of the other company understood what I was originally trying to say. But you won't notice any of that based on how the original blog post is written. If you go down the writer's path, you are left thinking I'm a total loon, out to hurt some small company so I can protect eBay. NONE of this is even close to true. Zero.

There's one thing I have learned throughout my life, and that is that it's very hard to defend yourself against something you never said or did. If you can quote me, or I actually did that, then I can explain it. I can clarify it. Or I can retract it and apologise. But what do you do with something you NEVER said? Should you apologise or retract something you never said? Then people will think you said it, so that won't work. I want people to know I never said that.

I'm talking about this because I want people to be really careful when they read things. Everything has an agenda. My agenda here is to ask you to really think for yourself. Watch how things are written. Wonder what people gain from what they write or how they wrote it. Look at how information is presented… even if it seems factual, can you notice a path or storyline that is meant to make you feel a certain way about a certain person or topic?

Practice this by watching Dateline on NBC. Many of their shows have the exact same pattern. That pattern is specifically carried out to make you feel certain things at various points in the story.

  1. They start by introducing you to a person. What a good person with a good family and good future. Nothing bad should EVER happen to this person!
  2. Something bad happens to this person. As the viewer, you are outraged. They didn't deserve that! They are so good and had a good future!
  3. Dateline will continue to show you how they or their family fought against some larger system (investigators, police, military, big corporation, etc…) to try to make things right or better.
  4. It will look like the victim or his/her family is winning, and justice will be served.
  5. And then the victim or his/her family gets f***'ed by the larger system! Pwned! You are OUTRAGED again! How could this happen in today's world!?
  6. Sometimes, Dateline has the happy ending. Sometimes the ending hasn't come yet. But you are often left feeling outraged rather than satisfied and happy that justice was done.
  7. You went for Dateline's ride. :)

The blog post author wanted me to drink his Kool Aid too, DM'ing me on Twitter before he posted this. As for what he said, well I'd LOVE to tell you since it's freaking outlandish. But thanks to the ideas of good internet etiquette that I'm choosing to follow, I won't quote what he said in private messages. I'll just say that based on the notes he was sending me, I knew he was going to post something that would make me never speak to him (again… he was already on his second chance after a previous situation that made me lose trust).

Getting one blog post in search results can't be worth so much that you're willing to hang me out to dry. A real friend wouldn't blog in response to something I blogged, and start out with links and quotes to another blog post that served no purpose other than to try to make me look bad as a person and a professional. If you need to respond to something I wrote, you point counterpoint. You state your case, you quote what I said, you don't make assumptions (ask me first if you're not sure what I meant), and you can close with your own argument. I think that would have been fair. This post lacked fairness in many ways.

I'm sorry that this author wanted to manipulate you, the reader, with how he laid things out. I'm sorry that this is the way a blog post gets written about a "friend." I'm sorry that this author is sacrificing his own integrity with posts like these. And to the author, they say turnabout is fair play, but I won't do it to you. I never have, and I'm very unlikely to choose to do it. I could easily do it. I have so many negative comments about you from other people that I could build a post JUST like yours… introduce you as my friend, quote some of these people who sound like they don't really like you, hint at something you may have said somewhere (but don't quote it), mildly agree with you, make it look like you're hurting a good, small company, and then have that heart-to-heart on the docks where I try to remind you you're a good person, and so much better than the bad guy who's trying to hurt that poor, small, helpless company.

To my readers, I just hope you'll notice when people lead you down paths. A good writer leads you down paths. The question is are you left thinking for yourself, or have you been lead into a manipulated opinion or frenzy?

It's amazing that all of this fuss is about my post about astroturfing. Astroturfing is all about manipulation… getting the public to believe campaigns for or against something through manipulation, shills, and/or unethical practices. And then I read a blog post like that. I guess the whole idea comes full circle.

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

4 Responses to “The Perfect Manipulation”

  1. Debbie,
    To say that I agree with you is to say that John McCain agrees with Barak Obama.
    I do not agree with how you wrote your “original” post slamming the BAC and the creators of Bonanzle – (oh- nice move by the way, editing the post to make yourself look more professional and to hide the fact that you were not as professional as you believe or want everyone to believe you are).
    I agreed with someone else who commented on my blog (and included your name to be nice) that people who go out and promote a company for free should have a bit of training and not simply repeat the same statement over and over again.
    Since that was not your “point” and that particular critique of the BAC or any other group that posts positive comments about a group or business or political party was not part of your original quarrel with Bonanzle, please do not say that I agree with you. I do not agree with you – lets make that clear.
    Oh yes, I agreed that comparing Bonanzle to eBay is not the right tact. That is all I we agree upon from your original post (since altered).
    This also means that I am not as devious as you seem to want your readers to think I am.
    I wrote the article, I stand by the article. It was a controversy on Monday because you made it so, I was not available on Monday to write about it, so I posted Tuesday. I did not set you up, I simply linked to your posts and Henriettas obviously unhappy response and then I added my take which includes everything it originally as it was when I published it. It has not been edited or altered in any way.
    Your readers and mine can take a look at what my post says and determine for themselves if I was being mean spirited towards you or not.
    I say not.
    I say I disagreed with your going off half cocked without knowing the facts and making a big deal about 50 or so people who get nothing to tell the world that Bonanzle is a good place to be.
    I say you really have done this type of odd thing too many times and that you should be more careful about tossing stone in your own glass house.
    I say that you recently publicly apologized for sending out spam and slanderous material to my clients in an effort to gain their business and I say that you should have learned a lesson after that incident that you need to be more careful about what you say and how you say it.
    I say that I have been very understanding and calm considering your efforts to cherry pick my clients and your efforts to spam your services in chat rooms of Internet Radio shows that I have hosted, when you know I provide very similar services.
    No Debbie, I do not agree with you or how you conduct business. If anyone in this world should not be preaching to the world about spam or improper social marketing techniques, it is you. You have spammed and marketed yourself from Internet association forums to personal email inboxes the world over. It reeks of desperation and it is not what a person who had the respect you did at one time should be doing to herself or her business reputation.
    If you can’t handle anyone daring to say you made a mistake, if you can’t handle your “friends” publicly stating standing up for the other side of an issue that you clearly did not consider completely and should never have dared to comment upon in the first place with your record of improperly using social media to hawk your services…
    Then I say you should look within and see why you think these types of things are always a plot against you personally. And not just a statement, an opinion.. and different point of view.
    You can call this whatever you like and continue to show the world that you think everyone is against you when in fact it was your words and your actions that got you in this position, more than once. But you can not call me a liar or a thief or a person with an agenda and get away with it in this way. You do not run the world Debbie, this is not your sandbox to command and say who is good and who is bad. I had absolutely no contact with you for over a year until you tried to directly steal my clients and even then I approached the situation with kindness and concern. I really have no more tolerance for your altered behavior Debbie, please know this… I told the world in my blog that you were my friend so that you could hold on to one last shred of credibility, now that has gone. The offer is off the table.
    Be very careful from now on Debbie with what you say, I have tried to privately coach you on this but it has not stayed with you.
    Tossing out backhanded slams at the competition, other selling venues, or even some little girl dancing in a club one night, does nothing good for your reputation or your business. This blog has your business name on it and it reflects upon you. Go back and read some of what you say Debbie – would you hire that person? In addition you have stepped too close to the line which could become a legal mess for you, too many times.
    Please Debbie, get some perspective, some counseling some sort of third party help when you decide to sit down and write these blog posts of yours. You need to step back, take a walk with your self and consider what it is you are doing here. Really – seriously, think this through.
    This comment has been copied in its entirety and if deleted or altered in any way will become another article in the Trading Assistant Journal. This is not how I want to spend my time but if you force this issue any further, I will rise to defend my reputation like no one you have ever slandered before.

  2. As Was says:

    I didn’t name you. Are you feeling defensive?
    The threat to publish this comment in your blog is a nice touch. I guess if you can’t get a “friend” to do what you want, it’s best to go for threats.
    I also like the “get counselling.” When you can’t get people under your thumb, it’s best to paint them as mentally ill.
    The amazing thing is the disinformation. You are still putting out there this idea that I have defamed the BAC. I copied and pasted text from a website and commented on it. It’s not about half-cocked or not having the facts. I read something on a website. It said something at face value that looked really bad!
    The CEO from that website even understood how I saw it. Other users of that website publicly agreed that they understood why I thought what I thought. But I know that it makes for good blogging when you can make it look like I’m out to get this company and some small group of good people.
    The best you have is that I admitted to and apologised for a mistake, which is more than pretty much any company on the planet will do, and that I promoted myself in online forums that allowed me to promote my company?
    This coming from a guy whose “Frooition loses management” post plugged his new software? Whose “Bonanzle controversy” post links to his consulting company?
    If you point enough fingers at me, maybe nobody will notice you. Believe me, they notice you.
    Your idea that me being associated with you as my friend gives ME credibility is delusional. I do not ride in the back seat of the Pooler-mobile.
    So will you be writing a scathing exposé of me tomorrow after my blog post about my yucky domain registrar? Fiery! Hot! Keywords! Surely that post needs a response from you too. :) The Pooler-mobile evidently doesn’t run so well without getting my name and company name in those posts!
    We each make our own beds. We both have friends, and we both have people who think rather poorly of us. We are each surrounded by the people we’ve connected with. I’m grateful for the people who understand me, and understand what trust and friendship are about. I’m grateful for the people who don’t sell me out for the chance to show up in search results under my personal and company name. They deserve thanks for being true friends and colleagues.
    You haven’t been my friend since April 2008, but there is one thing I can say. You may claim to not like any moves I make or anything I do, but I am extremely unlikely to do to you what you did to me in your blog. That should be one move you end up liking.
    You are not my friend, but I will never treat you as you have treated me. May nobody you consider a friend or enemy write a blog post about you as you have written. I have done nothing to deserve your brand of “friendship” and “credibility.” May nobody ever do anything like that to you, ever, in personal or business. May you be surrounded by true friends you can count on.

  3. dawn says:

    Debbie, this is what happens when you get a high profile. I’ll bet that Scott and Henrietta never got so many hits on their sites as when they started slamming you. Take it as a back-handed compliment. If you weren’t influential, and weren’t making a good point, they’d ignore you.

  4. Liz says:

    There is an interesting social experiment here somewhere.
    As an outside party, my impression from all threads is that a collection of people are attempting to discredit your business by hitting you personally.
    I am sure it won’t stop here.
    Credit crunch makes people crazy. Crazy I tell you!