Mo Bitar

@mo

Notes to self. Working on Standard Notes, a simple and private notes app.

bitar.io @bitario Thank

You can be made to believe

Let’s represent a day as an array of events.

day = []

As the day progresses in infinite fashion, events are piled on:

while today:
    day.push(new Event)

(Of course, this isn’t a singleton. Everyone has their own day. But let's keep it simple.)

There are too many events in a day. Publications found an excellent market opportunity by culling events, chaining them together, and adding some makeup to tell a story. This story is called a piece.

A piece is not truth. It is not fact. It is not journalism. The resulting curation is not by any means a pure reflection of some objective, inherent reality.

It is a curation performed manually by human beings operating on teams with cultures, in relationships with cultures, raised by families with cultures, and abiding by their own self-formed cultural compass. The result is not some magical formula for truth.

By their very nature, pieces are more of an omission of facts than a curation of them. This is common sense. But, as a reminder:

Articles, non-fiction, documentaries, news, journalism, (tweets?): these are some of the most evolved, incisive, well-tuned devices aimed at convincing or portraying. Simply put: their sole utility is to captivate. Do you think any reputable artist would do a botched job at that?

That you were convinced by some documentary implies not that it had done a good job at compiling facts, but that it had done a good job at performing the one function it was designed for.

All this nonsense to say: be not so fickle. Mistaking an article’s efficacy at convincing you as a measure of its truth and merit is like believing the clean diesel Volkswagen you bought from the convincing salesman is truly the most efficient, cleanest diesel car there is. When in reality, the man was just really good at his job.

He may have also left out some important details.


The Volkswagen dig is of course a reference to the cheat devices placed in their "clean" diesel vehicles, defrauding consumers all across America. I was reminded of it recently through watching Dirty Money on Netflix, a new documentary series exploring the gray areas of capitalism. The series does an excellent job of not passing judgement, but portrays multiple angles and leaves the verdict to you. DIY pieces can be a hit on convenience, but are a welcome reprieve from the endless barrage of prepackaged bundles of opinion being gobbled up all over the world wide web.


You'll only receive email when Mo Bitar publishes a new post

More from Mo Bitar: