There are absolutely exceptions. When we’re dealing with kids we tend to make a blanket statement (“Lying is wrong!”) because kids haven’t gained the knowledge, experience, and empathy required to tell the difference between a bad like and the kind of lie that is required to keep a civil society running.
Now, obviously there are plenty of times when lying is the absolute worst thing you can do. Lying to your doctor about your symptoms could delay life-saving treatment. Lying to your lawyer about the details of an incident could land you in jail. Lying about those bruises on your face to the people who are only trying to help you could get you abused again – or even killed. And even when the cases aren’t quite so extreme, we have to drill it into our kids’ heads that lying is bad because there are so many instances when failing to tell the truth results in some highly unsatisfactory consequences.
But there are lots and lots of benign instances in which it’s much better for all involved to tell a little white lie. For instance, we’ve all had to deal with those horrible interviews – the ones in which the interviewer asks questions like, “Why do you want to work for this company?” and “What do you think your greatest weaknesses are?” If you were always perfectly honest with that first question you’d never get hired, because let’s face it, most of the jobs we interview for in our lives are ones we would rather set ourselves on fire than have to do, but admitting that you’re only in it to pay the rent isn’t going to endear the company to your application. As for that second question, well, answering that honestly would at best get you kicked out of the interview, and at worst wind up in a call to the police to remove you from the premises.
Then, of course, there are the times when the truth serves no good purpose and a lie would be more kind. If someone with a very poor self-image asks, “Do I look fat in this?”, you’re sure as hell not going to say yes, even if it’s true, unless you want to be dealing with the emotional fallout for weeks to come.
Basically, as long as we’re not going to cause huge problems and bad consequences as a result, some lies are necessary to keep everyone civil and happy. The problem is trying to figure out how to teach the difference to our kids, because while you want them to tell the truth about who ate the entire box of cookies, you don’t really want them telling their mean teacher that they think she’s a horrible person who, by the way, is also super-ugly and no one likes her anyway.
What do you think? Is lying wrong, case closed, or are some lies a necessary part of life? Please share!
Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! ❤
It seems like I’ve been responding to a lot of Cracked.com articles lately, but I couldn’t resist a response to 5 Reasons Lying Sometimes Seems Like the Best Option, written by one of my favorite Cracked writers, John Cheese. Though I love Cracked in general, Cheese is one of the only writers that I almost always agree with on pretty much everything. When reading this particular article of his, I found a million stories running through my head that agree with his every point, and so, here we go again. Make sure to check out the original article!
#5. It’s Met With Hostility
This first reason shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise to anyone. Cheese gives the example of a husband or wife bottling up lots of little frustrations (because who wants to rock that boat?) until eventually they can’t take it anymore and snap the truth out like a whip…and of course, the spouse flips the hell out because they never saw this coming and now see it as their loved one being a complete jackass for no good reason. Though it may not have been a spouse, specifically, everyone has experienced the second part of this situation. You tell someone the truth and they absolutely lose their mind. The next time you seriously consider keeping your mouth shut because who needs that nonsense?
Just try and tell me you’ve never experienced this reaction, whether you were the one doling out the truth, or doling out the hostility.
In the best example I can think of for this particular entry, I’m the jackass, though of course I didn’t think so at the time. Last Halloween I got it in my head that my daughter was going to be a My Little Pony for Trick-or-Treat. I found a pattern online for what was basically a jogging suit with ears on the hood, and a tail and “cutie-mark” on the pants. I got some material and set to work. It was an awful pain in the ass right from the get-go, since the material I got refused to move through my mother’s sewing machine without bunching and getting caught up, so I had to do all the sewing by hand. I also kinda sketched the pattern out by hand because I don’t have a printer so I couldn’t print out the pattern from the website. So bit by bit I slaved to sew this thing together, and the more together it came, the more obvious it was that it wasn’t going to look right at all. I’m not stupid. I could see that it wasn’t turning out. But when my husband decided to point out one day that it just looked awful and that maybe I should try something else instead, he came within an inch of death. I knew that the damn thing was coming out a total piece of junk, but to hear him put it in words enraged me like I can’t explain. I didn’t actually end up losing my mind, but believe me when I say that it took all my willpower not to punch him in the nose. Later I felt like a total dork for getting so upset about something that I had already figured out myself, but at least I had a bit of restraint…if I had a bit worse of a temper, there may have been a serious incident, and all over the truth.
So is it so surprising that people avoid telling it knowing that reactions like this could happen?
#4. We’re Taught to Pick and Choose Our Honest Statements
We’re told our entire lives that “honesty is the best policy”, but that’s not entirely true, is it? We tell our children that they should always be upfront and honest, but if they then tell a complete stranger that they’re fat we get all embarrassed and sweep our kid aside to tell them that it’s not nice to call people fat. “But it’s the truth!” the kid might say. “Yeah, but it’s not nice,” we repeat. “It’s rude,” we might even add.
It’s one of those annoying aspects of humanity. We know that it’s usually best to tell the truth, but somewhere along the line we came up with this idea of “socially accepted”, and that keeps us from telling the truth in a great number of situations, governed by an ever-increasing list of social “rules”. It’s okay for a doctor to tell their patient that they’re overweight and need to lose weight to be healthy, but if a random stranger tells the same person the same thing it’s considered extremely rude and “none-of-their-damn-business!” It’s the same truth no matter what way you look at it, but it’s only accepted in the right situation, and so we learn to avoid that truth at all costs.
I’m going to give another example that kinda makes me look like an asshole, because screw it, those are the best examples.
Have you ever had an employer ask you to give your honest opinion of someone that they’re looking to possibly hire? I have had this situation thrust upon me several times, and the first time it happened was when I was working on the paper mill. My supervisor asked me about a guy who had submitted a resume that showed he graduated from the same university as me only a year after me. When I saw the name on the resume I almost had a panic attack. This guy is an anomaly amongst anomalies. He was – no holds barred – the stupidest person I’d ever met in my life, and I genuinely believe that the professors in our program pushed him through to graduation just to make sure they wouldn’t be dealing with him for the rest of their careers. This guy literally set his shop project on fire because he didn’t know that copper conducts electricity (in an electrical engineering program!!!!), and the most significant sentence of his thesis presentation was, “It didn’t work and I’m not sure why”. I told my supervisor this and more, along with my honest believe that if this particular guy got into the mill he would probably blow it the hell up within a week. My supervisor thanked me and I probably saved the company a lot of money and grief, but then again, can you imagine if I’d said all that to the actual guy’s face? People would ask me what the hell was wrong with me, because even if it’s the complete and honest truth, you just don’t tell people that they’re completely incompetent fools. It’s one of the rules.
#3. We’re Afraid We’ll Look Like Assholes
Cheese gives the example of a spouse who slowly loses sexual interest in their partner who has been steadily gaining weight. Such a thing doesn’t make you a bad person – you can’t control what you find attractive – but you don’t ever tell your spouse about it because you know that the result is going to be that they think you’re a total ass for not being able to somehow rewire your brain to continue finding their changed state sexy. And if we’re really being honest here, you feel like an asshole too, even when you know you have no reason to.
Here’s an example that actually involves me being the victim. When I somewhere between four and five months pregnant, I was on a course for my apprenticeship. We would break for lunch every day at noon, and usually I would just buy something at the school cafeteria, but on this particular day I was starving and wanted something fat. So I drove to the nearest McDonalds, which happened to be located inside the nearby Wal-Mart. I don’t remember exactly what I bought, but it involved a flurry of some kind, so I was leaving the restaurant with a bag of food, plus a large cup of ice cream. The way the store is laid out, if you’re leaving the restaurant you have to walk past all the Wal-Mart cash registers on your way out. So I’m walking past all these people checking out and I hear this older lady (about 60 or so) speaking at an entirely too high volume. She was glaring at me out of the corner of her eye and saying something to the tune of, “Stupid teenagers these days wonder why they’re so goddamn fat but then they eat fast food all day every day.”
The statement could have easily been the truth. Maybe this woman had a teenage grandkid who constantly stuffed their face with Mickey-D’s and then whined and cried about being fat.
But it wasn’t the truth, and for once in my life I wasn’t letting it go. I looked the woman right in the eye and told her, “First off, I’m not fat, I’m pregnant. Second of all, I’m not a teenager, I’m twenty-three-years-old. And last of all, what I eat is none of your goddamn business.” And I’ve never seen anyone turn so red in all my life.
It doesn’t matter that what the old bat said wasn’t actually the truth…she believed it to be the truth, and speaking it allowed turned her into a complete asshole. Her husband and the lady manning the cashier looked like they would never stop laughing, and more than one nearby observer was raising their eyebrows at the old broad. And I’ll bet that woman kept her mouth shut for quite a while afterwards, because once you make yourself look like that kind of asshole, you really really don’t want to do it again.
#2. The Truth Hurts…No, Seriously
Have you ever made someone cry by telling them the truth? If you haven’t, try to continue that record, because few things will make you feel more like a horrible, terrible piece of crap.
Cheese gives the example that you can’t be honest with a child when they’re being an annoying brat, because you can’t just tell a kid that they’re an annoying brat. Well, you can, but if you do you’re a pretty horrible person and you should feel bad about yourself. It’s the same with telling someone that they’re overweight, or that outfit looks monstrous on them, or that their house looks look a mud-covered bull ran through it. In the same way that being honest about some things can cause hostility, they can also hurt a person deep inside in a way that could gnaw on them for the rest of their life (depending, of course, on the truth you’ve told and how sensitive the person is). And when you cause that kind of damage to someone it can really affect you as well (presuming, of course, that you’re not a heartless monster).
I mentioned this in another post once, but I think it’s a good example for this one. All my life I’ve loved singing, and when I was a kid I would sometimes get a little more into it than was necessarily tolerable to other people. Once, when I was at a Tim Horton’s with my father, I started singing some song or another. I was only maybe six or seven, so it didn’t really occur to me at all that my singing might be a little annoying for the people around me. I started out moderately quiet, but eventually started getting louder and louder, until eventually my father broke off the conversation he’d been having with a friend and told me, “Tracey, be quiet. No one wants to hear you singing.”
It was the stone cold truth, and he definitely didn’t mean for the statement to be mean, but to me at that time it was like a punch right in the stomach. I was a kid who thought she had a great singing voice and that of course everyone would think I was so talented and adorable and love me to pieces. So to be told “No one wants to hear you singing” was like being told, “You’re annoying and no one likes you.” And – not a word a lie – after that day I avoided singing in front of anyone for years unless they’d specifically asked me to. That wasn’t at all the reaction my father was looking for, I’m sure, but unfortunately sometimes that’s what happens when you tell the truth.
#1. The “True You” Isn’t Good Enough
And now we’re down to the real nitty-gritty of the lying world, and that is that we’re all just worried that we aren’t “good enough”. As Cheese explains, this is partially a kind of defense mechanism. For example, you’re never going to be totally honest in a job interview, because you’re not likely to get the job if you admit that you hate authority and are only suffering through this nonsense because the bills are building up and you’ve got to do something. Little lies like that are reasonable because, dammit, you’ve gotta work. But it goes a lot further than that, with lots and lots of these little lies building up on top of each other. You act like your coworker is your best friend because you don’t want to make waves at work, but in reality you hate their guts. You think your family’s religion is complete nonsense but you keep going to church because you don’t want to be seen as the heathen. You wear what society tells you to wear so that you fit in. You have an aneurysm cleaning your house before company comes over because god forbid they find out that you let the laundry pile up and the floor get dusty. We all do it, and the result is that we have a hundred different faces that we put on depending on who we’re dealing with and what the situation is. There’s the face you put on for your employer, which is different from the face you show your coworkers, and neither of those are anything like the face you show your spouse, which is way different from what you show your parents, and so on and so on.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to avoid this habit a little better by not caring so much about what other people think of me, but even still I have my faces just like everyone else. A good example is this blog. Though I try to be honest and upfront about who I am and what I’m all about, I’ll actively avoid bringing up topics that I feel strongly about because I don’t want any of my readers to dislike me as a result. I try not to bring up religion or politics, for instance, because I don’t want any of my readers to think less of me because of my choices, and thus stop reading. In that way I’m no different from the little girl I used to be, who would hide her sketches of anime characters so that the other kids wouldn’t think she was a loser. We all hide the parts of ourselves that we don’t think other people will like, because we all want to be accepted, and we’re constantly worried that we’re not good enough for the people we want to be good enough for.
All in all, it’s a pretty silly system we have, where people get mad or depressed for being told things they probably already knew, where we teach kids to be honest…but only to a point, and where we avoid honesty at all costs because of our own personal insecurities. But all those things keep us from being honest because the fact is that a lot of the time it’s just easier on everyone to use the lie. Knowing everything you’ve just read, can you imagine how stressful the world would be if we all just started telling the truth all the time?
What do you think? Are we all a little gone in the head? Have you ever experienced any of the situations above from the liar’s side? From the “victim”‘s side? How often do you tell the truth in a possibly uncomfortable situation? Do you believe that sometimes it’s just easier on everyone to lie? Share!
This past weekend my husband and I celebrated the dual joys of our 4th wedding anniversary, and the marriage of two friends of ours. We enjoyed a beautiful ceremony in the lovely community of Cheticamp, whilst also spending time with another married couple who we hadn’t seen in a long time, and marked the whole thing off by staying at a sweet little chalet along the coast. It was all quite lovely.
Because it was our anniversary, we were inevitably asked what we got each other, and my husband got to tell our companions that he bought me a Playstation Vita.
For our wedding anniversary.
Because I asked for it.
Hey, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while and haven’t yet figured out that I’m a total and utter dork…now you know.
Hubby bought me a Wi-Fi version Vita with a 32 GB memory card, connected it to his Playstation Network account, and downloaded a bunch of free games for me (Sony, don’t ever change your Playstation Plus system…you’re definitely doing it right), plus he picked up Rayman Origins at Walmart. Since last week I’ve been glued to this little handheld joy-box. The Vita definitely has it’s flaws, as any gaming system tends to, but I’m absolutely loving it.
And that’s a bad thing.
Okay, it’s a good thing because it was a present and I wanted it, so obviously one would hope that I enjoy playing with it. But it’s a bad thing because it is a positive time vampire. This morning I got up at about 8:30 am and started playing it. Other than to put it aside long enough to get breakfast for the baby, a coffee for the hubby, and to dance with the baby when she suddenly decided I had to dance with her, I didn’t put the Vita down until 1:00 pm. I got a dozen or so Rayman trophies, and that is all I accomplished all morning.
I didn’t write, I didn’t edit. I definitely didn’t exercise. I didn’t do any laundry or dishes, and I didn’t start tidying up the guest room (which I have to do because we have two days worth of guests coming next weekend). I didn’t even really get dressed. I put on a pair of jeans long enough to run out to the car for something, but I couldn’t be bothered to throw a bra on under my shirt, and I still haven’t as I’m typing this. The baby is still wearing her pajamas. I only just took something out of the deep freeze for supper, and I haven’t established what I’m going to do with it yet. The kitty litter is full and the cats’ streaming water dish has been broken for several days. There are a ton of leftovers in the fridge that have gone bad and I haven’t thrown them out. There are about ten boxes of old baby clothes in the hallway that I’ve been meaning to go through so I can send some stuff to consignment.
But instead of dealing with any of these things that need dealing with, I played my new Playstation Vita for four and a half hours straight. And if I’m totally honest? The only reason I actually stopped playing is because I realized that battery was dying. Yes, the only thing that dragged me away from my gaming is the fact that battery scientists (that’s a thing, right?) haven’t figured out how to make mobile batteries last longer yet.
Distractions are a terrible thing when you’re in a position that requires you to be self-motivated. Currently I am not employed; I’m working on my writing, but I’m not in a position where I am getting paid or compensated in any way. That means that every morning when I get up I have to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “Okay. You are going to get some damn work done today!” And then I have to try to follow through with it. I have to pick my own self up, with no hope of any kind of payment of any form, and I have to force myself to sit down and write. That in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, except for the fact that while I’m trying to force myself to write I also have to deal with a child who thinks I should wear little pink play glasses all day, and a household worth of chores and errands that never seem to slack off in any sense of the word.
Distractions are terrible and they must be eliminated. They must be stricken from the lifestyle. It is the only way. Only when distractions have been completely removed will one be able to go on with one’s day productively and efficiently.
Unfortunately, I’m way too distracted by my shiny new Vita to get on with eliminating my distractions right now, so if you don’t mind…
Have you ever felt like someone was asking you too many questions? Have you ever filled out a form or a job application and thought, “Now seriously, why the hell do they need to know that?” Well I have, and that regularly-occurring experience is what lead me to write the following drabble, entitled ‘You Can Trust Us’.
Mental Heath Questionnaire
Please answer honestly.
What is your age?
Are you currently taking any prescription medication?
Is there any history of mental instability in your family?
Do you suffer from any form of mental instability?
Are you sure?
You wouldn’t lie to us, would you?
It’s okay. You can trust us.
Seriously, we aren’t trying to trick you into lowering your guard.
Why must you think poorly of us? We’re only trying to help.
Okay, that’s it. You’ve forced us to take matters into our own hands. Orderlies are on their way to detain you. Have a nice day.