The L Word
“It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only variable is about what. I’ve found that when you want to know the truth about someone, that someone is probably the last person you should ask.” – Gregory House, MD
While I can’t know for sure, based on what I’ve learned from raising a kid, I’d say that humans learn to lie sometime around 3 years of age. From then on, they just get better or more creative at it. My son is a terrible liar, but he is a very creative one. I did my share of lying as a child as soon as I figured out that when my parents said “Tell us the truth because we’ll find out eventually anyway,” they were simply blowing smoke to get me to admit what I had done. I have no doubt that my husband, my best friend, and my mother-in-law have all lied to me at some point in their lives. Chances are it was a small lie, like telling me I looked fine when I looked like I was coming off of a one week bender, but a lie all the same. My parents lied to me about a whole encyclopedia of things. Ex-friends and ex-boyfriends brought it by the truckload. It could be the fabricated answer to my question or maybe just an embellishment of a story. It could be an entire event that is secretly fiction, or maybe an edit to justify their bad behavior. Whatever size or form, it’s always there.
To a certain extent, I totally understand the “save my ass” lies. If I trip and you didn’t see it, I may lie about it to save face. My kid lies to try to stay out of trouble and avoid losing his Game Boy. Who hasn’t lied to their boss and claimed an illness or car trouble when they were actually feeling fine and just overslept or maybe had a late night? Or claiming ignorance to a police officer after being pulled over for running a light or ignoring a No U-Turn sign? Or said “good to see you” in passing to someone they can’t stand the sight of? Not only does it seem to come naturally, but it seems like an acceptable way to save face and keep the peace. Unfortunately, little lies have a tendency to grow or to open a path to bigger and more serious ones.
For some reason I can’t quite wrap my mind around, rape has always been a popular thing to lie about. I went to high school with a girl who lost her virginity at somewhat of a young age and claimed she had been raped. I’ve known a girl who contracted a pretty embarrassing STD and told people the person who raped her was the one who infected her. I’ve heard it used a couple of times to explain away unplanned pregnancies, as well as just a card to gain sympathy from friends. They were all eventually exposed as liars. I don’t need to explain how low this type of behavior is, to lie about such a vile act. It’s a slap in the face to those out there who have been unfortunate enough to have to experience a rape and it also destroys credibility of those who have been raped and seek help or justice against their attacker. The same goes for anyone who lies about being abused in any way, be it verbally or physically or emotionally.
I also never quite understood the people out there who treat their life as if it’s a movie and they are director and producer, editing scenes, adding and cutting content, deleting whatever doesn’t work for them and creating something completely new. It’s appropriate in fiction sure, but fact should stay as fact. I get annoyed when I’m watching a “based on a true story” film and find out later that during scripting and production, numerous fictional elements were added in order to spice it up and make it more interesting. At least when it’s done on-screen, there are valid reasons for doing so; entertainment value and making money. What justification can a regular boring person have for doing it day in and day out? You aren’t going to profit off of telling your friends a fictional tale of some hot guy hitting on you in the mall, nor are you obligated to try to entertain your friends with tall tales of your worldly adventures.
What it all comes down to is a craving for the attention of others. Negative attention can be turned around by throwing in a fairy tale about how someone wronged you, causing your criticizers to turn on the other person and seek to comfort you. If you have a somewhat average life, it’s easy to have all eyes on you by inventing tons of out-there stories of your encounters with various people or the crazy things that always seem to happen to you when you leave the house. Lying to try to build a reputation for yourself of being the life of the party by fibbing about all the people who see you in clubs and flock to you. But why?!?? Is there something lacking in your personal life? Are you insecure or ashamed of something? What’s wrong with making an effort to find interesting things that actually occur in your life rather than invent them on a whim?
The positive side of it is that I’m fairly certain the majority of people can easily see through the false parts of people’s stories. Did anyone actually believe Bristol Palin when, after appearing on a reality dancing show, she got this done:
With the justification that it was necessary for medical reasons so her jaw and teeth could properly realign? No, you got it done because countless people were calling you a cow and mocking your fat face, stating you were the only person on that show who was gaining weight rather than losing, so you fixed your jaw to look thinner. Why lie about it? Just be honest, admit you got surgery due to an unhappiness with your personal appearance, and be done with it because WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH ALREADY! There are very few people out there who are truly skilled liars; the majority of those who try are highly counterproductive and end up exposing themselves eventually. Common sense will win every time and the bigger the bullshitter is, the more obvious their bullshit becomes. Anyone got a shovel?
“It’s never lupus” – Gregory House, MD