Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Truth About Lying

I have always wondered whether to lie or to speak of half truths is a deeply ingrained component of the human brain. Or it must be a carefully planned and manipulated programming? I tend to believe both. How else do you explain the fact that every one lies? You and I included.

We were born clueless of what is the truth and what is not. I recall however  when I was a kid, that generally adults discouraged honesty, in some vague, sordid way. 

ADULT: "No don't say she's fat, she's robust." (seriously, she looks like a German tank waddling in heels!)

 ADULT: "Do not stare or mention Aunt Lisa's new horrible curls." (how can I if she looks like she electrocuted her wet nose in a socket?)

ADULT: "We're house guests, don't make that face and swallow the food. Smile." (WTF? Hay bale stir-fried in donkey's compost would probably taste sweeter) 

So I argue, "But, Mom, we hate those nosy neighbours, why do I need to invite their kid to my kid party? I hate playing with that stinking, snotty kid. He does not even know how to blow his nose! We don't play with him at all." So I get a scolding and am told that those words are not proper and hurtful. Even if they are true.  And it is gracious to invite neighbours to your own personal events, even if you hate them, because it is socially proper.

I guess I failed on that note. I grew up getting into major fights and fall outs with family and friends, for calling a spade, a spade. I still have no idea why I should call it otherwise.

So why do we lie? I can think of a few honest reasons why.

  1. For survival and self-preservation. Yeah because often, the people around us would prefer to be lied to than deal with reality. If your Boss asks if he is right about his decision, you ought to know better that he is always right however warped his mind is. So you lie.
  2. To save face.  A more common face-saving treachery is forgetting the name of the person who just stopped you at the corner Coffee Shop. Whilst he/she rattles off about how long ago you have last seen each other, your brain crashes as it tries to retrieve the Archives but the screen goes blank instead. You nod and agree and pray that the whole agonizing meeting would stop. It does. And you still don't remember who it was. But you shout back, "Yeah, let's have coffee sometime. Keep in touch." Lame. Liar.
  3. To avoid responsibility. It's lovely to loaf and fool around. When you get confronted you say, "Geesh, I'm swamped and neck-deep with to-do lists, I was trying to swing it but it just didn't pan out." But you didn't. You forgot. Too busy horsing around and just being a sloth. Truth is, you don't even know what you forgot. But you say this without batting an eyelash nor glancing to the right side.
  4. To avoid confrontation. "The Company has decided to initiate some cutbacks and move in another strategic direction." Truth is, "you suck and you are no better than an incompetent baboon..."  
  5. For personal gain. Or personal interests. Or anything that is centrally about your delusions. Or perhaps because you want to and you can.
  6. To please people. Generally people love half-truths and lies, even if they are loaded with sarcasm, absurdity and trash. Or you are just a people pleaser and you love being lied to as well.
  7. Jack Nicholson is right.  Always been and always will be.