Last night, I wasn’t sure my washing machine was working properly. I could hear it making noises, but couldn’t tell if anything was actually happening on the inside. We have a front loading washer with the window in the door, so I snagged a flashlight and shined it through the window, peering into the guts of the machine. Inside, the towels were tumbling as the washer was going through its spin cycle. Everything was as it should be.
The laundry room isn’t the only place we experience the spin cycle. Last night, the entire country received a lesson on the spin cycle from our two major political parties and the Tea Party. Facts were bandied about, claims of success and failure presented by all three sides, figures and numbers were held up for all to see. Spin was in full session. Afterwards, the news media took the spin and spun it some more, twisting vague statements, squeezing every last drop of advertising value from the political statements.
This is every day in the political sphere and the news media. In the GOP primary process, one candidate makes claims about themselves only to have them disavowed by another candidate. They make claims about each other that later are exposed as lies and falsehoods. This is spin. This is the game played constantly in every aspect of political life.
The media is famous for spin as well. Each news outlet, regardless of what they might say in public, is driven by a certain set of principals. The reporters, copy writers, and editors at print and television news establishments have their own politics which will invariably color their content. Each company spins the news, choosing its presentation to garner the appropriate reaction from readers and viewers.
Spin isn’t just a game played on the national level. We practice spin within our own circles. We might exaggerate to our friends to make ourselves look better - “I once caught a fish thiiiiiiiiiiis big!” We cover mistakes with viable excuses, we avoid telling the whole truth to people to protect our image, we attempt to recuse ourselves from situations that would make us appear unfavorable.
We even spin ourselves. Have you ever done something, felt bad about it later, then justified it to yourself just to feel better, despite the fact that you still disagreed with your own actions? I have. Sometimes we spin ourselves so well we confuse the truth and end up believing the false story. Only later, when we truly look within, do we see where we hid the truth.
Look behind the mirage. Look past the spin to find the real story. Get your news from multiple sources, then piece the real story together. Listen to what the politicians have to say, but check their facts before you believe them. Sometimes, like I had to do with my washing machine, you just have to get a flashlight and look around a bit to see if what you are hearing is the truth, or just the spin cycle.