By Sabrina Almeida
“We’re all liars”, the headline screamed at me from a Reader’s Digest cover and I quietly agreed. But don’t count on me admitting this out aloud. The truth is we fib about everything and only the degree of lying differs depending on the intensity of the situation and how desperate we are. We lie to everyone – our children, spouse, parents, friends, neighbours, colleagues, clients, the customer service representatives, the traffic cop… the list goes on.
It starts with trivialities like what time did you wake up in the morning and progresses to embellishing your CV, then moves to the big league. It is so entrenched in our social fabric that we only consider the punishable offenses as lying.
Hiding your age is lying. Not telling a friend where you were last night is lying. Pretending you were an ace student to your kids is lying. Telling your mother the phone went dead when you forgot to call is lying.
A wise friend once pointed out that we should never trust any proclamations an individual may make about themselves. That is a piece of advice I have taken both to heart and mind. So when your higher-ups say that they are open to suggestions, it’s a trap! I’d be extra cautious about the opinions I offered. It’s a lie!
If a girlfriend said her lips were sealed, I’d be very worried about how much she already knowns.
The fact is we all lie—whether it is to secure an advantage, get sympathy or make a case. Lying is a habit few can claim to be born without. A white-lie or whatever you like to call it is still a lie. When someone says to you that they never lie, they just did. (I hope my children don’t ever read this).
My curiosity propelled me to google the most common lies, read on.
1. I Have Read & Agreed to the Above Terms and Conditions – this topped the list. Guilty, right?
2. I don’t lie – Guilty, again!
3. I will be there in 5 minutes – Guilty over and over again! We do this just to buy more time.
4. Don’t worry! It will be okay! – Terribly guilty! We know it’s not.
5. Sorry!! I forgot – Deliberately!!!
6. No problem – And you’re about to burst a blood vessel.
7. LOL – Softening an insult, just in case…
To this I’d like to add 5 more…
1. I don’t care – Then why are you upset?
2. You can count on me any time – To be read ‘but don’t ask’.
3. I’ll try – You have no intention of doing it but are just being ‘polite’.
4. Would I lie to you – You doing it right now!
5. I didn’t really mean that – A desperate attempt to salvage a situation.
We occasionally brand people as ‘compulsive liars’ and are quick to distinguish ourselves from them. What we mean is that lying is a habitual with these individuals… but then we’ve just established that we’re really not that different.
Society doesn’t help us habitual liars. In most cases people don’t want to tell or hear the truth! Tell your wife her dress looks terrible and you’re in for a bad evening or a week of torturous silence. She’s not the only one, even you wouldn’t be able to handle it if the situation were reversed. Tell friend that his/her drinking has gotten out of hand and you could lose the friendship. You’d be equally miffed if you were that drunk.
Everyone wants to hear about how good and great they were. People who oblige seem to be better off than those who go by facts. (That’s our incentive to lie.) Being ‘diplomatic’ or ‘politically correct’ does involve evading the truth and a degree of lying. We claim to like people who are honest but only to a point when we like what we are hearing.
Lying has become socially permissibly, perhaps even the norm. Most people would tell you that lying is wrong except when there is a good reason for it… that’s flawed thinking right there. There is no reason to lie. Also it takes a good memory and a lot of effort to keep up the lies. The reality is, truth has a strange way of revealing itself an in the most inopportune moments.
So do we agree to tell the truth? The best way to start is to stop lying to yourself!