I recently saw a headline that said, “Seinfeld actor shoots himself in the head”. Right away, that grabbed my attention. We would air re-runs of Seinfeld after our 10 o’clock news when I worked in Idaho so I’d seen all the episodes several times. Who had shot themselves? Was it Jerry? Kramer? George? As it turns out, it was an actor named Daniel von Bargen who played a character named Mr. Kruger. This is a tragic story, but it wouldn’t have gotten nearly the interest if the headline read, “Daniel von Bargen shoots himself in the head”.
Daniel von Bargen has eighty four acting credits to his name (according to IMDB.com), so why include the “Seinfeld” reference in the headline? Because it was a very popular show and I’m sure it had many people (including me) click on the link to find out which actor had done it.
This is just an example of “spin”.—meaning to take the facts and present them in a way that can bias a person’s understanding of the situation. This is very rampant in politics, but it can really be found everywhere.
I believe we all “spin” things to some degree. It could be telling your parents, “Guess what! I all A’s in my classes except one!” Granted, that “except one” was an “F”, but alas, that isn’t where we put the focus. Or how about, “I did the wash today sweetheart! I’ve even folded them and put them away!” Granted, I also washed her favorite white shirt with the colors, so now it’s pink, but heck, I did the wash!
A few months ago I entered a couple of short stories into a contest called “Parables for Today”. Several weeks ago, they announced that one of my stories made the top twenty five finalists. Just last week, they announced the top five winners. I took fourth place, given the official title of “Honorable Mention”. However, the way it was announced was I was one of the “winners”. So, naturally, I can (and do) call myself an “award winning author”. Is it spin? Maybe.
My bio also states I’m an award winning TV director. That is also true. While at BYU in a highly competitive program, I was awarded the “Silver Microphone” (the highest honor) for directing. Is it a valid award? Yes, very much so. Can people interpret “award winning TV director” as something else? I’m sure they can. It doesn’t mean my bio is untrue.
There are even programs out there for authors on how to become a “bestselling author”. What’s the spin? Simple. It’s a massive blitz to sell enough copies of your book to break the top one hundred of some list. Even if the book is there for only a week, you’re still a bestselling author.
So, is “spinning” something the same as telling a lie? I guess it comes down to one thing: intention.