Wednesday, January 25, 2012

“Spin” is a common term these days. It is used to describe an interpretation of events or statements, usually in relation to politics. It can be taken as being based on the fact that there are two (or more) sides to every subject. In that sense, it is only reasonable that all sides of a subject be presented in order for a person to make an informed decision. That’s the explanation that sounds good. But there are more devious reasons for spin.

Spin is a new term for something that has been in existence for a long time. Politicians have been crafting speeches for particular locations and audiences and vice versa as a matter of course for years—for decades if not centuries—for the purpose of making the greatest favorable impression. Several things have come into being that have influenced this practice. Some of these are: 1) there are better means of measuring the effectiveness of communication; 2) there are more accurate ways of discerning what people want or will accept; 3) there is new efficiency in presenting things in the most favorable and persuasive light; 4) there is a new “science” dealing with influencing people through persuasion, suggestion and that old standby, fear.

As a result we have spin. I believe this term is new enough and unique enough to go beyond any narrow definition and be applied to the entire modern situation of controlling people for specific purposes. And that is just it—its main use is for controlling people. We have an age of specialization, efforts that have relegated to a science the means for analyzing, predicting and controlling human behavior. And we have the rise of people with the talent, training and ability for putting such things into effect. “Packaging” is important; new names are devised for any number of things—products, ideas, concepts, laws, etc.—that sometimes have little to do with their content but everything to do with their acceptance by the public.

The results of this are not confined to the field of politics. Business, the military, education, even religions, make use of spin. And so we are inundated with it. We have spinners and spinees. It is all around us and when one thinks about it, it is probably quite accurately named. Being in the midst of spin can make one quite dizzy and when one is dizzy one is apt to not be able to think too well. That is just what the spinners, the purveyors of spin, are hoping for.

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