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The Cost of Spin for Parents, Business & Kings

I’ve blogged about this before: my angle was that whilst some promote a false reality through advertising or social media, many more people measure themselves against it. Whether the impact on individuals’ wellbeing causes a smattering of depression or a street riot is perhaps food for thought. When I came across this article Making a Case for More Candor… from PE Hub the part about parenting was especially pertinent.

After I had my children I understood why some people are so solicitous to pregnant women. In my innocence I had thought it was because they were overwhelmed by the miracle of life (I also thought this was rather odd). I have long since found out it was mere sympathy for the lifetime of trials ahead.

It has become evident, very few people tell the truth about parenthood; least of the many of the parents who admitted as such to mumsnet in a survey last year.
‘Oh no, little Lavinia only has 15 minutes of tv/computer/gaming a day…’

Anyway, the article is based on a conversation with a neuroscientist called Sam Harris whose essay ‘Lying’ is available on Kindle. Here’s an extract

Q: In Silicon Valley, many companies depend on spin to get from one financing round to the next, or one customer win to another. Is that so terrible?

A: There are so many costs to a culture of spin. It’s kind of a situation of mutually assured destruction, where you have this arms race of good news, and the price you pay for being candid about your missteps or problems on the horizon is that everyone will turn to your competitor — who will be busy lying about what’s happening on their side.

So the price is high. Yet the fact that we know everyone is spinning builds cynicism to the point where people are pricing in the possibility of people’s deception.

Q: What’s the case for people to change their behavior?

A: There’s a real power to simply being honest in a context where many people are so often dancing around the truth. There’s an integrity that comes with that, even if the reward for having integrity isn’t always immediate.

Steve Jobs came out and told people how sick he was [and Apple shares never nosedived]. Meanwhile, people can lose a tremendous amount of money when CEOs are deceptive where they can be.

Another aspect to spin to keep in mind: When people don’t have good information about reality, they think their difficulties are theirs alone. Take the culture of spin around parenthood and motherhood. We had our first child 2.5 years ago, and while obviously, people complain about being parents, most people tend to conceal a lot of the details about just how hard the experience is, beginning with the delivery. So you can think: Why is this happening to me? You’re isolated in your stress when people aren’t giving you good information

It’s nothing new though. People have been spinning the yarn for perhaps as long as people have been around. Take this example in art (self-promotion for Charles I) by Van Dyck.

e.g. From this subtle study of a horse

To this: The Divine Right of Kings