The incredible circus, which has been built up around what I believe to be an unnecessary inquest on Princess Diana, must be hell for the Princes and her close friends. It would certainly not be at the request of the Queen, and so one assumes that the press, with the paparazzi, have engineered this for increased sales. Many of us feel that if there had been no paparazzi there would have been no accident. This prompted me to consider manipulation in the round.
The dictionary definition states, ‘to give a false appearance to; to turn to one’s own purpose or advantage.’ This does not cover the wide range of applications, and the sheer terror and horror that it can cover, such as the plight of subjugated peoples in dictatorships, throughout the world.
We are currently being subjected to a mild form of manipulation by our politicians who are playing childish games with our lives, by making speeches and counter speeches, which are not necessarily policy, but rather inducements to make us vote for them. When the incumbent sees which way the wind is blowing he will then make up his mind whether it is in ‘his ‘ interest to go to the polls, not ours. This I believe is manipulation. It was noticeable that when David Cameron was talking without notes, a point which was strongly made, (even Soph thought it great), to indicate that he was speaking from the heart, it made me wonder if all our actors and actresses who can go through a three-hour play without a note, are also speaking from the heart. I suggest this is another form of manipulation. Just in passing, I noted that his speech from the heart, was only his heart, not that of the party, it was always the first person singular. Another Blair?
In Northern Ireland we have been manipulated constantly, by Westminster, Dublin, the USA Government, the American Irish Lobby with its funding-raising and back-seat driving, our own political factions, the UN the EU and anybody else who can stick their finger in, for nearly 40 years, and we are worse off now than when it all started, certainly politically, the infrastructure, and of our personal knowledge of our place in things generally. If you think about it, you too may have been thoroughly manipulated.
The most subtle form of manipulation, of course, is advertising. They use fear, sex, suggestion rather than fact, in its many forms, and portray a Utopian environment, obviously associated with their products.
As you know, recently I did a survey of how much people read, and it was clear that TV and the Internet are on the increase in providing information, while written matter is being reduced by 40%. How this affects newspapers I have not researched, but I am of the opinion that it applies to them as well. However, I do not think, as a result of this, the paparazzi will be reduced proportionately, because the sensational press will probably maintain its position, which says a lot about the taste of the average citizen.
I hesitate to make statements about religion, firstly because I think it’s none of my business, secondly so many people are dependent upon it. But recent events of religious leaders and political factions, pretending allegiance to religion, are taking advantage of the modern day sophistication, easy transportation, and a highly mixed race environment, to perpetrate acts of violence which are manipulation of the individual bomber and of us, but go beyond that to a hideous extreme, to encourage fear and panic to achieve an end, which in itself is unreasonable.
A hundred years ago soapbox politics was simple, unsophisticated and what you saw is what you got. Today with the professional use of psychology, with spin doctors, speech writers and all the plethora of outside interests and influences, in our everyday lives, not only in politics, we must become ourselves more sophisticated, more aware and above all more questioning. When a man stands up giving a long speech, not necessarily a politician, it is difficult to take in all that he says and to remember it, therefore what you get is a warm impression, and if he is any good at manipulation, a few nuggets that will cheer you, and the cold hard facts, while still being there, are enshrouded in verbiage and showmanship.