The incredible circus, which built up around what I believe to be an unnecessary inquest on Princess Diana was nothing short of abominable. It must have been hell for the Princes and her close friends. It would certainly not have been at the request of the Queen, and so one assumes that the press, with the paparazzi, 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, especially to do with infection, health and cleanliness. Subtle sex is another tool, along with suggestion rather than fact in its many forms, and usually portrayed in a Utopian environment, obviously associated with their products.
I did a survey of how much people read, and that TV and the Internet are on the increase in providing information, while written matter is being reduced by 40%. I don’t know how this affects newspaper, but I think it applies to them as well. but as a result of this the paparazzi will not be reduced proportionately, because the sensational press will probably maintain its position, which says a lot about the taste of the average citizen.
In my childhood, religion was centre stage and the churches were full. Today, religious leaders, contrary to the edicts of their religion, are encouraging young, educated people to blast the innocent across the world, with baseless inducements of a fictitious hereafter, I find this not only shocking and astounding, it is the extreme of manipulation for political ends.
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 it all in 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.