Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lies

It would be nice to say I'm always open and honest, but of course I'm not. I lie from time to time like everyone else.

Sometimes lies are unnecessary and deceitful and cause damage, but often they're essential to smoothe relationships, prevent catastrophes, get jobs or just to protect our well-being.

I can't recall any time when I've deliberately lied for no good reason, just to harm someone or to look impressive. But no doubt I have, I've just conveniently overlooked it.

Certainly I've lied to dodge unwanted invitations or demands, to avoid insulting or upsetting someone, to avoid embarrassing or humiliating myself, or to explain away neglected tasks.

But I've never blatantly lied about myself to impress a woman or an employer or a mortgage lender. Tweaked or glossed the truth maybe, but that's it. I've never posed next to someone else's BMW or invented a high-powered job or claimed I was at school with Mick Jagger. The reason is simple - if the lie was exposed, then I'd never be trusted again.

I don't understand people who lie flagrantly and constantly for no purpose except rampant self-interest, greed and face-saving. Politicians for one. Cheating spouses for another. And of course all those ordinary individuals who just want to seem bigger and better than they really are and hide all their human failings and weaknesses under a flawless facade.

Thou shalt not lie? I don't agree. Lies are sometimes just what's needed. But they should be a temporary lubricant, not a nasty habit.

Thanks to Nicole for the inspiration.
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Wow, Obama made it! The first black American president - and by a thumping majority! It's stunning that so many ordinary Americans had such faith in him and voted for him in such huge numbers.

21 comments:

conortje said...

It's pointless me lying as I go bright red instantly so it's VERY obvious :-)

Nick said...

Conor - I don't go bright red, but I probably look a bit shifty and fidgety if I feel guilty about lying.

Thriftcriminal said...

So, like KY then?

Nick said...

Thrifty - Absolutely. A modest dab of untruth can help everything along nicely. But too much of the stuff and you just get in a nasty sticky mess.

Baino said...

I hate lying, like you I tend to make up excuses to avoid a particular event. Actually one of my colleagues lied yesterday with the net effect of a junior administrator copping the blame for something she didn't do . . the problem is, the lier was overheard and her chicanery exposed. She's feeling very stupid and deceitful right now! Once you lie you have to perpetuate the web of deceit and that requires a good memory so not a great idea for someone who can't remember what they did last weekend!

gaudiumdegaea said...

My father used to force me to lie, inadvertantly, when I was at high school and uni. I wanted to hang out with my friends, nothing sinister you see, but if I came home half an hour late he'd ask where I'd been, whom I was with. Me being me I used to just tell him with my two class mates we went to a cafe (they were boys) he got so mad at me. Or I'd tell him after volleyball training we got a bite to eat with the boys' team, just socialising again nothing sinister.
So slowly but surely with all the pressure and dramas, I learned to just say "well I was in the library". And I used to feel physically sick afterwards. It affected me so badly I hated lying and liers with a passion (ie. myself in front of Dad). I think parents have a lot to do with kids' behaviour from the beginning. I hated it so much I'd like to think I became someone who doesn't tolerate lying and these days I constantly get in trouble for telling the truth and what I think. But I promised I'd never feel like I have to lie to get away with doing stuff, thinking thoughts that are in no way bad, sinister, etc.
Wow, your post did bring some memories back.

gaudiumdegaea said...

inadvertently rather.... can spell most of the time

Nick said...

Baino - That's what I scrupulously avoid, any kind of lie that's going to get someone else in trouble. Why should they take the rap for my mistakes?

GayƩ - Parents are responsible for a lot of lies when they're over-strict about their child doing something quite harmless. I got so much grief when I was young by being totally honest that I learnt to be more cautious about what I said.

Nicole said...

Great job Nick. Lying kids I can understand because telling the truth can have scary consequences in their minds. For kids, lying over something small may seem necessary because disappointing a parent can be worse than any corporal punishment. But adults who consistently lie baffle me. It just seems like something one should grow out of...I mean, we're old enough to understand the consequences of our behavior before we act. So, why don't we just NOT do the thing that could possibly lead to those unhappy consequences?

Nick said...

Nicole - Some people just seem to lie at any opportunity if they think it might somehow help their interests. I think they see honesty and frankness as some kind of weakness to be avoided at all costs.

Nick said...

Wow, you guys are starting to make me feel a little guilty about my own behaviour. Maybe I play around with the truth a bit too much for my own good?

Quickroute said...

A little white lie never hurt anyone. It's the black ones that you have to watch out for. They usually come back to bite you.

Nick said...

Quicky - They do. Particularly the over-imaginative ones that trip you up later because you can't remember the details.

Hullaballoo said...

Being honest is over-rated. Being anti social and managing to get away with it is much more fun ;)).

Hulla
xx

Nick said...

Hulla - Do you mean lying just for the hell of it, to have a bit of fun? I've done that occasionally, it's amazing what people will fall for if you say it with a straight face.

Did I tell you about the time I was sitting next to Amy Winehouse on a plane and she was showing me all her tattoos? Well, the funny thing was....

Los Angelista said...

Do folks seriously say they went to school with Mick Jagger? Hmm...

Both of my sons are TERRIBLE liars and I call them on it when it happens. We laugh over it and then talk about why they shouldn't lie. I used to lie to avoid being spanked. I think a lot of kids lie to avoid punishment and so lying becomes a habit. With my boys I always tell them that no matter what happens, they should tell me and I can't promise I won't be mad, but I'll be glad they were honest.

Nick said...

Liz - Well, maybe some people claim that. Or perhaps somebody more prestigious. Yes, habitual lying can cause an awful lot of trouble, particularly if it ends up with nobody trusting you about anything.

Wisewebwoman said...

Gee Nick, I'm having a lot of trouble getting into your comments and even now, it is hard to see the screen, more than likely my end of things.
I was brought up in a house where entrapment was the highlight feature of my father's vast entertainment agenda.
It took me a long time to stop lying. Now I only do it for a gracious 'out' on an invitation but these white ones always come back to haunt me. Like recently, I said I had a migraine to avoid a social event, I only get the silent kinds, no pain and don't have to lie down.
I was asked recently how disabled I get with one of my migraines and I said how lucky I was, they didn't prevent me doing anything I wanted. Ouch. **red, red face**. Perplexed look from invitor.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Oh dear, that one certainly backfired! You just should have used something more foolproof! On the odd occasion I've thrown a sickie, I'm always a bit nervous of someone running into me at the supermarket looking fighting fit.

I haven't had any trouble myself getting into comments or seeing the screen. If anyone else has, let me know.

Fate's Granddaughter said...

I may have mentioned before that my mother uses honesty to justify cruelty - so I have always been an advocate of the white lie used to soften a blow or spare feelings.

Honesty in the extreme is like anything in the extreme - too much.

Nick said...

FG - I think a lot of people do that, and of course they use the defence of being virtuous and direct to hide less desirable motives.