Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Art of Lying

We live in a world where it is impolite to be honest, so we lie and we lie often.
We are not just encouraged to lie, we are expected to lie and not just to our acquaintances but to our family, our friends and perhaps even to our lovers.
The biggest lie (big in how often we use it rather than severity), is the greeting, '"Hello, how are you?"
Used by mere acquaintances: customers, suppliers, bank managers—people we barely know—do they really care how we are? By asking the question, they have begun the lie, pretending to care, but it gets worse. We lie back.
"Fine, thank you," you say, even though you've been up all night with gastro-enteritis, your husband's run off with your sister, the cat's been missing for four days and your eldest has been suspended from school for bullying.
And how often have you asked that question and then wished you hadn’t? Often? Sometimes? Rarely? Even once means that you are guilty too.
It doesn't end there though. We have yet more questions that we always answer with a lie, albeit it with a good heart. We lie because we care.

“Am I starting to show my age?”
"Does my bum look big in this?"

But the enquirer is just as guilty as the responder. If her bum does look big it that, if he is looking a little old and haggard, he/she doesn't want you to be honest. They want you to lie. They will not thank you for saying, "Yes, you do look old/fat," no matter how nicely you put it. If you do, it's a fair bet you'll end up sleeping in the spare room for a couple of nights.
"No, of course your bum doesn't look big in that. You have a lovely bottom," you say, even though it's spread to the size of Manhattan and has enough cellulite to sink a battle cruiser. "No, my love. You don't look a day over twenty". Technically, that may not be a lie (he doesn't look a day over twenty, he looks 3,000 days over twenty), but you get the gist.
We lie to our children too.
Putting aside the most obvious lies (the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas), what about those 'harmless' old wives tales—that eating carrots will make you see in the dark, watching too much television is bad for the eyes, eating your crusts will make your hair curl, picking a dandelion means you'll wet the bed and if a buttercup shines yellow under your chin it means you like butter? There are hundreds of them and whilst some of them may have some basis in truth (yes, carrots do contain beta-carotene which is very important to maintain eyesight but it won’t improve it) they are still lies designed to manipulate and control children.
They're harmless, I hear you say and for the most part they are; but lies are lies. We are, whether we like it or not, teaching our children the art of lying.
It's a sobering thought. Sadly, it's also a life skill.


  1. How about we start with the first one, ask "How are you?" and truly mean it, regardless whether the answer will be honest or not.

    With the "right" tone of speaking we'll get away with these:
    On age, cheer up the friends with, "What's wrong with being old? I know many wonderful oldies and I love spending time with them."
    On appearance, "If you're interesting, people will still love you no matter what. But you'll be healthier and feel better with exercise."
    If you aren't rude in the slightest, and you show that you honestly care, they won't murder you.

    It's hard. But over time they'll appreciate your true opinion.

  2. Eating carrots does help you see in the dark. They have vitamin A, which helps with our night vision...

    Good blog though... and I'm not lying :)


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