It took some work, but I finally finished Ryan Holiday’s latest book Conspiracy. Not because it was particularly long – it was less than 300 pages – but because it was packed with information, quotes, and such.
If you’re not familiar it is a book about the man, Peter Thiel, who brought Gawker down by funding Hulk Hogan’s legal case. That is perhaps an over-simplification of the book, but I don’t like to give too much away in my reviews. I want to give you just enough to make you actually want to read it.
It was well-written and very thorough. It will take a few days to digest everything, but I would also say it was mostly unbiased. Holiday seemed to want to look at this story from all angles. Even going so far as to play the ‘what if’ game through out.
I guess we all fall for the hind sight adage…
Being a Gen-Xer I never said, ‘Oh, hey, I want to be a blogger someday.’ And, yet, here I am. So freedom of speech is kind of a big thing. I think it’s a ‘right’ that most Americans don’t give much thought to because most of us have never been told, ‘no, you can’t say – write, post, tweet – that.’
But see our ‘rights’, our ‘freedoms’ are not entitlements to become awful human beings hell-bent on creating misery for other people we don’t like or can’t even begin to understand. Somehow, though, that is exactly what passes for ‘news’ these days. We scroll through the feeds looking for the most shocking headline. The story that promises the most embarrassment, the most crude details, the most misery, the most nudity.
So we can what – feel better about our lives, our latest mistakes?
I don’t know, but what I do know is that I don’t need to know every little detail about everyone else’s life. I don’t want to know. I’m not responsible for anyone else so why should I care if they do or say something stupid that in, no way whatsoever, affects me and my life?
So this leads me to the first of the passages from the book I’d like to share. Holiday is talking about the First Amendment and how at Gawker some of the writers quit when on of their stories was pulled.
There is always a defense necessary; discretion is the responsibility of freedom, the obligation that comes along with rights.
It’s that responsibility, that obligation that no one seems to want to acknowledge. I don’t know if it’s because we’re lazy or what, but sharing half-truths or outright lies shouldn’t be okay. Ever. And what’s wrong with the public for making it be okay?
Because, let’s face it, if these types of stories didn’t sell the media wouldn’t use them…
So where does the responsibility, the obligation truly lie?
The second passage isn’t much related to free speech or even writing. It has to do with why some people are successful, why some businesses fail while others don’t, which is part of the reason this story fascinated me. I have always wanted to know what the secret ingredient – the conspiracy – was.
I may have just stumbled upon it…
And so the essential trait of the successful man is not only perseverance but almost a perverse expectation of how difficult it is going to be. It is having redundancies on top of redundancies, so you can absorb the losses you eventually incur. One must not just steel one’s heart but also one’s spirit so that there is no such thing as an obstacle – just information.
So no matter what you thought of the case or the outcome, Conspiracy is definitely worth the read. There are many lessons to be learned, not the least of which is that we should maybe redefine ‘impossible’.