Lying: The Booming New Profit Center

Tim Brennan

"They can't put anything on the Internet that's not true." —gal in State Farm insurance commercial


Actually, don’t call it lying. It’s fiction. Entertainment. Reality. Comedy. Ethical? Who cares? It’s what makes the Bitcoins come pouring in. And lately, the rewards from lying are getting greater. Really... Don’t miss out on this historic opportunity!


Do you remember the uproar on Facebook when a waitress in NJ reported that customers did not tip her, and they wrote the reason on her check as “We can not support your lifestyle”? Headlines were written, "NJ Waitress Receives Anti-Gay Note Instead of Tip."




That little bit was shared, forwarded and linked thousands of times. People sent the waitress money, offered her jobs, and went out of their way to express disgust at the rampant anti-gay attitude in this country.


Well, the family who paid that bill came forward. Not to apologize, but to show a credit card receipt from that restaurant for the amount of the bill plus an 18% tip. A credit card receipt.




That might hold up in court. But not the Court Of Public Opinion. The truth of the credit card receipt did not get shared, forwarded, or linked as much as the original story. Because a story about a family tipping is not as rancorous as people hating lesbians.


Who won in this? The waitress with the good story, the catchy graphics, and proper social network gained fame and thousands of dollars. The people who passed this story along did not do research to find out she had serious credibility issues. You don’t go and fact-check a tweet, do you? But those earlier credibility issues she had were simply a product without the right promotion. You see, it wasn’t until she learned to use the power of the Internet that she found a way to profit from her fiction. Oh, Hemingway would have been a millionaire with his writing skills and the Internet.


Who lost? Just the people who sent money to her (she says she will now give a bunch of the money to some charity – she says). The reputation of the gay and lesbian alliance who fight for equality and the removal of stereotypes. Eh, whatever. The woman got her rewards.


Over the Thanksgiving holiday, a big story broke on social media. A reality show producer named Elan Gale chronicled on Twitter the tale of how he berated an annoying woman on a delayed flight.




With each tweet, he told his followers about this woman, what he was going to do to her, what notes he was going to send, and then reported every reaction from this woman. With each tweet, he became ruder and more vulgar. “Eat my dick!” was his crowning sign off to her. When she responded that she would report him to the authorities, he replied, “Tell them to arrest you for cannibalism, because you just Ate My Dick!!” By the way, if you consider that vulgar, read the comment section of any news article posted online, and you will find such talk is just how people write these days.

However, those commenters on news sites have not figured out how to turn such language of the common folk into fame and fortune. The man known as The Bard was once criticized as being of the common man. Perhaps Mr. Gale is our modern Shakespeare. 


Oh, how his followers loved it. His audience grew from 30,000 to over 150,000 that day. At the end of the tale, Elan tweeted a photo of his mommy, who picked him up from the airport. In the photo, mommy was flipping the bird to “Diane in 7A”.  Closing credits by mom. Boom. You’ve been served.


The reviews came pouring in. “Epic”, “Hilarious”, “I laughed so much I cried.” The flight was two and a half hours and each communication was conveyed in real time. His followers enjoyed the movie-length entertainment without shelling out the cost of a ticket.


You don’t get those kind of reviews for a live performance every day. And the fact that the production cost him nearly nothing, means that once he parlays the newfound fame and fans into a new job or advertising on his Twitter page, he will reap a very nice profit.


I have never heard of an independent filmmaker or fiction writer who can conceive, write, publish and profit from one idea IN THE SAME DAY. This is genius.


Oh, and yes, he did admit to making it all up. However, the truth of his deceit did not race through the internet like the “Epic Thanksgiving Twitter War,” as reported in the Huffington Post. His Twitter following keeps growing.


How does this relate to being in a band? Oh the possibilities are endless. Fake your death via Twitter and emerge later as still alive, but only after a bump in online sales.


Stalk Darius Rucker until such time that your drummer can get both you and him in a photo together. Then let it slip out that the two of you are writing a new record.


If done right, you may never have to work on your playing skills ever again.


It’s not lying, it’s creating entertainment. Content. Fiction. Movies. Reality. Well, the new reality, where it is not exactly real, but could be real if things were really different, and that’s why we call it reality. Follow that?


Don’t resist it. Lie you way to the top. It shows you are creative, organized, and self motivated. Lying is a growth industry that can put our economy back on solid footing. You don’t even need a business license to profit from such creativity.


Don’t question whether something you read on the internet is true or not. Let it tickle your deep seated angers, fears, bigotry, biases, and emotions. It’s all entertainment.


Now, if a writer at a traditional publication fabricated a story, they'd be fired. If a mistake was made, the newpaper or magazine would have to publish a retraction. But on the Internet, you don’t have to bother with that. What an amazing thing to be able to remove those pesky ethics rules. Does anyone know if Huffington Post even has a retraction policy? Who would read that tab?


Here at Grit, we could run an obituary for Mayor Riley, let readership soar for a couple of hours, then pull the article with a quick apology while a sales staff locks in online ads with our huge bump in readership. However, I think the leaders of Grit are actual journalists and editors, and are stuck in the old-school teachings of truth and honor. Too bad. Could be good for business.


As of today, you are free to post whatever you want, and start reaping the benefits. Rake in those new followers. Accept donations from strangers. Collect it in Bitcoins because they are not subject to taxes. Yet, Bitcoins are as stable as common currencies. Or so I think I’ve heard.


Not everyone has learned how to “entertain” on the web. There are lots of real, true, complete, items of news on the web. Why, in fact, today I read that I can lower my bills, the government HealthCare site is working perfectly while possibly causing the end of the American Way, and there are young sexy singles in my neighborhood who are looking to hook up with me RIGHT NOW! Me! A middle aged white guy with a wife, three kids, a beer gut, who also plays bass in a few local bands. Sexy discreet women can’t wait for a piece of this. I read it on the internet.