Friday, November 21, 2014

17 Books for People Who Hate People

Beyond the obvious appeal to ego and desire to self-promote, I thought this BuzzFeed reading list was possibly the most fitting reading list I have seen targeted to this particular audience. 

Btw, the BuzzFeed staff must be filled with... Borderlines? Sociopaths? Car salesmen? How are they so able to discern and fill people's secret points of vanity and predicting likes/dislikes that people aren't even aware of themselves? However they acquired it, they have an impressive skillset.

I feel like the thing that drives a lot of people's willingness to share something widely like these, and consequently the key to virality, is the feeling that they have really been seen or known for who they are as a person in a way that they don't regularly encounter. "I'm an introvert!" "I'm a brony!" "I'm Blanche from the Golden Girls!" And it's a great way to share ourselves with the world in a way that doesn't seem explicitly egocentric, because this thing we're sharing is of general interest enough that even the people in our circle that don't care to know these personal facts about us may see something of themselves or a loved one in what we shared. Because as personal as these things feel to us, there are also obviously other people who feel the exact same way (at least, presumably, the author). Every listicle ("You know you're from a small town if . . . ") or online quiz gives us a label and a sense of belonging. It's funny, when I was first doing book publicity, everybody from the publishing house was almost entirely focused on there being as big an initial splash as possible -- thought it was absolutely essential to get random members of the television watching, radio listening, magazine reading public to buy and read the book and gawk at it. Which was fine, and if that is what it took to get the book published and out there, great. But I actually wrote it (and continue to write this) for my real target audience of anyone who thinks this way too. Or someone intimate enough with the members (or the traits) of that target audience to want to dip their toe into this mental world. And if people's continuing emails, tweets, instagrams, etc., regarding how they feel about the book/blog are any indication that the target audience is actually being reached, that's something that I'm pretty satisfied about. Everyone is selling something in this world, maybe. But if I could do even half as well as BuzzFeed at providing people some measure of self-understanding, including the understanding that they may be part of a larger group of people with very similar experiences and worldviews, I'd feel like I had accomplished something worthwhile.

Because these websites and their editors have gotten pretty precise. I am really almost daily impressed. At first when they were targeting the general population I thought, old hat. Now, though, they are targeting the craziest little niches and really speaking to them in a way that is almost preternaturally omniscient. Anthropologists will have such rich primary sources to draw from when they study this culture. 


  1. I've been reading along these lines of late and here are a couple things I've bumped into -

    I've been working my way through a rather long, but worthwhile, documentary series called The Century of the Self. It seems that Freud's (yep, old Siggy), cousin Edward Bernays invented "public relations." What he really did was rename propaganda - he did this knowingly. He believed that people needed to be controlled.

    I was moved by the brilliance.

    I still need to finish the series - I'll watch part four this weekend, most likely.

    The other thing that comes to mind is a tool I've found recently (free Excel template - I'm a cheap bastard *grin*) that is developed specifically for analyzing social media networks. It's called NodeXL.

    If there is enough interest, I can cobble together more information and links - I didn't want to "nerd out" on everyone. 8D~

    1. Hi HL, I've never really understood the need to proselytze except when I do. I guess it just depends on what the topic is. What does NODEXL do in a nutshell? I've read elsewhere that software has been developed to analyze texts to identify various anonymous writers on different web sites -- your identity can be uncovered just from general patterns in how one writes. I bet this also relies on network analysis. There! my nerdiness is expiated for the moment...

      Yeah, I'd like to see your list.

    2. just to give an idea where I think this technology is, well if I wanted to devote some time to getting some software, learning how to use it, perhaps writing a few scripts of my own, I could figure out myself the true identities of even anon posters here... at least some. It's all at hand.

      That's just a hypothetical though. Don't think I would bother with it.

    3. Im interested Mr. Haller :D many probably will be. Please share.

    4. By popular demand!

      NodeXL Information - Free Excel 2007 Template.

      Tutorials: About half an hours worth to get you started. Once you’re on YouTube, you’ll see a whole mess of videos by various people using it for all sorts of stuff – you can pick the rabbit hole that suits you.

      I don’t Twitter, Facebook, or use social media (this forum is as close as I get). I became interested in this for analyzing how work gets done in organizations and on projects. It’s also a way to looking at the politics of an organization. However, the data gathering part is very different from using the tool to look at social media – that requires a whole different suite of tools and skills.

      I don’t have a dog in this fight (i.e. not “selling” anything, nothing to gain) – I just think it’s a cool tool and it seemed related to M.E.’s post. Similarly, the documentary discusses specific actions used to manipulate the masses using media and other devices. If she’s interested in reaching niche markets, these two items might be useful/informative to her and others.

      If someone uses it for looking at networks (why do I have a nagging feeling of kinship to Pandora as I post this?), I’m curious to hear what they come up with and how they get there.

    5. Wow, thanks HL ! Appreciated..

    6. Happy to oblige SC! 8)~

      Let me know if you come up with anything interesting -

  2. Is LF Celinés Death on the installment plan incuded in that list? Glowing hatred & brilliant "fantasy-realism". Should be in every well behaved, passive psychopaths library..

  3. Let's now examine death. What happens when you die? To find out we must
    examine what the ancient Jews believed. The Bible is the foundation of
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    The first Jews had no conception of an afterlife. Thier sole objective was to be
    interred with other Jews after death. They thought they were the "chosen one's"
    so they wanted to decompose with others of their kind.
    Later on, came the Macabean revolt. The Greeks were interfering with the Jews'
    religious services. Many died. The idea began to circulate: "Why die for a cause,
    if the fate of the "good" and "evil" is exactly the same? So the idea of
    resserection came into vogue. Just as a plant dies in the fall, can comes back
    to life in the Spring.
    "Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall be raised. Some to everlasting
    glory, and some to everlasting shame.
    It's important to understand that the Jews had no concept of "forever." To them,
    "time" was organized into various "ages," that had a definate beginning and end.
    To this day "The Jews" don't believe in life after death. Most don't even talk
    about resserection. If you ask them, most would say that the soul goes into
    some vauge and miserable "limbo." There is no percise belief.
    In Christ's time, it was believed that everyone who ever died would be brought
    back at the "last day." This last day was the consumation of all history.

  4. When Jesus Christ ask Martha if she knew her brother Lazarus was
    coming back, she said, "I know he will raise again at "the last day."
    Jesus made a special exception for her, and raised up her brother. He died
    again some years later.
    So what happens when you die?
    First, the human being dosen't posess a "soul." The human being IS a soul.
    A "living soul" is made up of tripartate nature. It is composed of a body, mind,
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    gives life to the body. It DOES NOT survive the death of the body. For the body
    to come back to life, a brand new spirit would have to be placed in it. This is
    what is going to happen at the resserection, and percisely why a resserection is
    needed. If there was an immeadiate afterlife, it wouldn't be life after death, it
    would be "life after life." There would be no such thing as death.
    But the Bible plainly states: "The wages of sin are DEATH." The price we pay
    for our fallible "fleshly" nature is to DIE, just as that leaf on the tree must die.
    When Jesus died for our sins and rescued mankind, He had ALL the sins of the
    world on His back. He paied the penality for us all which was DEATH. Complete
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    So how did the idea of the immortality of the soul get started? When Christianity
    left Israel and became a "gentile" religion, the local customs became intermixed
    with with the original beliefs. That's how the Christian RELIGION was born, to
    the misery of many.

    1. I used to know this man who suffered from schizophrenia. Always thought he should become a preacher. I loved listening to him preach for some reason. He could grasp scripture good and present it without difficulty -- in away that was inviting to hear., never condemning. We could talk about the things of God for hours him &I But when he was sick, his eyes lit up green and very paranoid, my heart went out to him. He lived with his elderly mom and took care of her. Then the roles switched when he became ill .... but he'd always manage to snap back out of it. I always thought if that was a thorn in his flesh God gave him.

      Haha look at me talking about the things of God. Must sound like a weirdo. ;)

  5. I'm generally annoyed by Buzfeed, even more so when I realize their writers are all like 19 years old.

    The notion that what we choose to share says something about us is interesting, because I've long maintained that the results of such quizzes are meaningless.

    1. Fuck off. I'm 18.

    2. Hah! No thanks, but now I'll just discount everything you have to say!

    3. Nah nah. Your it. You're just coming off all noble with your previous comment. Listen, I'm just a teenage girl that has a curl. I eat frosted flakes every morning because they're grrreat.

    4. Hi HB,

      I get the impression that those quizzes are an internet version of a focus group. It's a method of gathering information about the "desires" of a target population (the sort of fish that follow that click bait if you will). It seems that this methodology has been being honed and adapted for some decades now.

      The documentary I mentioned above shows how these groups are used and manipulated to get the answers they are looking for. I perceive these sorts of "quizzes" as being along the same lines.

      It's not just entertainment...

      Wow! I do sound like I'm on a soap box, don't I? ;p

    5. I don't know what kind of valuable data they can glean when I choose whether a banana, a mango, or a pear best reflects my personality.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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