Saturday, March 14, 2015

PR 'z Us : Spin as Dating

Nope, all you need is not love. It’s an emoticon.  

All human relationships are based on the selective control of information and ideas -- and also on misinformation, disinformation, deception, misdirection and manipulation.  Human beings don’t much like reality – their social systems depend on virtuality.  

 #I contain multitudes 

Here’s the thing: ‘identity” is not who you are – it is who you pretend to be, depending on the situation.   Hence, the popularity of smartphones and social media, which protect you from the embarrassment of face to face interaction where people might find you out.

How many times to you have to say, "That isn't really me". Or: "I wasn't myself today".   Or (more often) "I was drunk".  Sorry, it is all you, all the time.

 Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)  is normal!    

People diagnosed with this multiple personality  disorder are only different from you and me insofar as they aren't as good at it as you are.  They are  socially challenged.

You act as if we were one person with a fixed and singular identity, dealing with other people -- who are doing the same thing. And you can switch instantly if you see the need. Somebody with DID (the "disorder")  doesn't switch interactively -- and therefore do it inappropriately.  Other people notice.  "He was a different guy". And so on.  

If you're good at this stuff, people don't notice the transition. Barack Obama looks like such a nice guy.  But he still drops bombs on babies.

Identity is always a social transaction.

“Hi, I’m Dr Jekyll and I’m a doctor” you say, as though that summed you up.

 Sorry: your name and profession are just details, like your choice of a tie or your underwear.

 In each social situation, we automatically adjust “identity” to meet expectations and needs -- transactionally -- watching to see how it works on our counterparts. 

“Normal” people -- or "normapaths" -- have a greater degree of choice, given that each of their constituent identities is aware – not completely aware, of course – but more aware of itself and the “others” with which it interacts than, say, Dr. Jekyll and his Mr. Hyde.   . 

PR is reflexive – but it always involves choices

“Hello I’m Dr Jekyll and I’m a doctor”, maybe a true statement.  But it can also be misleading because your name and job say little about “you”, your being.  There are any number of ways you could introduce yourself.  You make choices, partly consciously, partly unconsciously. Certainly, Dr. Jekyll did.

He could have said, “Hello I’m Jekyll. I’m a doctor and I'm polite and well-educated. But I have alter ego, Mr. Jekyll whose primal and animalistic and violent.   Now this is honest but not appropriate to professional situations-- although it might work marvelously well in a bar full of twenty-somethings. 

Does Barack Obama say, "Hi, I'm Barry and I kill babies"?
Choices, choices…. Hyde doesn't do choices. He doesn't do "spin".  That's why he can't fit into normal society -- other than the club scene.

 Barry, by contrast, does do choices.  He uses "spin".

 “Spin” is lube.   

We all know that public relations in any of its form helps us it us fit into tight places. And generally someone gets fucked.

But "spin" is much, much more.  It defines – and is defined by -- the actors in any social interaction -- and also determines – and is determined by agency – goals and methods. 

You may not be into anal -- but you do use the lube.  

Take dating....

Suppose you have the hots for a certain girl. You really want to get laid.   And the girl is, well, hot….

You go for the "Date", a time-honored ritual of social dishonesty.  

The foreplay before the foreplay before the foreplay....

 Italian food.  Nice place, soft lighting. 

No, not the place in the photo.  A place where you can wear soft, huggable beige sweater. You are approachable and non-threatening.  You avoid cologne – wear a grapefruit-scented lotion, which studies indicate is appealing to a majority of women.   You’re clean and neat and have an expensive – but tasteful watch. You look upper-status and indicate subtlely that you have a good income.   

You choose a restaurant where you know people, where you can predictably “run across” friends.  They say, “Hi” -  yeah, you have friends and a social identity.   People seem to like you. All these things combine to communicate a socially validated identity. 

    Identity…. You:  Nice Guy. Her: Nice Girl.
    Goal:  Seduction
    Method:  Promise of long-term relationship, stability,etc.   

   How might this go wrong?

 The problem is that real “being” is not the same as “social identity” -- "being" is what you are -- and not a matter of choice.

 Social identity means adopting a.) a role  b.) a script c.) appealing to audience needs

Successful social identity however means first of all appearing like you are not playing a role or scripted -- which actually meeting the needs of your target-- which means knowing them -- something not always easy to do. In addition, you must be consistent -- it is better not to get found out.

Now maybe you met the hot girl at work and she seemed like an “ordinary” middle class girl.  Dresses politely, talks politely.  You assume that she is looking for a high status guy to marry.  

But what if she has another side?  What if she figures that nice guys and sex don’t go together that she must bait the hook and fish carefully for Mr. Right, withholding sex.  That would mean a lot of expensive dates for you, a relationship  that is hard to get out  of– and lousy sex, if any. Probablity: 25%. Not a lot--but high enough to consider.

While she’s dating you, she might be screwing some “bad boy”.  A little rough, black leather.  Somebody hot.  Why is Fifty Shades of Grey so popular –with women?  

  Everybody lies as Dr. House says.  

Now with the "Date" the immediate outcome will be positive enough, in all likelihood, although you most likely will not get laid that night. 

If you do get laid, you may be in for than expected.  After all, you were implicitly promising a lot more than a one night stand.

But maintaining your role of Mr. Nice Guy -- means more dates, more lies.... and oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice... spin. 

Don't date. Go for coffee instead -- and communicate honestly.

Everybody lies, yes. And--eventually--everybody finds out.

In other words, while public relations and "spin" are essential to social relationships, it is best to keep things simple and as close to the truth as possible.

Bernie Madoof

The relevance of this fact in commercial advertising and public diplomacy and other areas is huge.Again, keep it simple and honest.

Call it the Ouch Factor -- that is, the truth is a pit bull -- it can a great companion -- but treat it wrong and it bites.

Of course, there are always exceptions.  You're always going to have use "spin"  -- but try not promise more than you can deliver.

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