George Washington said, “I cannot tell a lie.” A popular nursery rhyme said that you can identify a liar by their pants on fire. And of course, who doesn’t remember the earworm from the 1980s,Lies, Lies, Lies by the Thompson Twins?
No matter what the time or place, it seems that there is always some kind of lie that’s, well…lying in wait.
In 2017 we began to face a constant debate about lies, thanks to a news media and a President who presented the concept of #alternatefacts. Of course, this is just a fancy pants-hashtag way to describe lies. There are no grey areas when it comes to lying. Fibs, white lies, the dodge, the weave, and even crying wolf are all variations on the same, sneaky theme.
When we are very young, we start telling small, innocuous lies to test our parents or teachers. “No, Mrs. Warren, I didn’t flick a booger at Bobby.”
Exactly how much can we get away with? We openly challenge cause and effect experimental patterns into adulthood. And sure, there are some people who tell one lie after another without being caught. It increases by degrees as we get older.
“I spent the night at Tammy’s house,” we tell Mom and Dad, when we really spent the night with our boyfriend/girlfriend. Later in life we neglect to tell our significant other that we “went for casual drinks” with a co-worker, or that we get constant texts from someone who is clearly flirting with us on social media. We downplay all of it.
“Boss, my dog is sick, I need to stay home today.” (wait till they find out I don’t even have a dog!)
But in the end, the lie gets the spotlight cast upon it and liars do get caught. Researchers believe that lies are habit-forming and can have long-term effects. Plus, it’s such hard work to maintain a lie. It’s like being a performance artist 24/7, juggling reality and fantasy, inventing an untruth and sticking to invented facts.
So, is there ever a situation where lies are acceptable? We like to think so, right? After all, maybe the truth hurts way more than some “safe” made-up explanation or story, so we tell “lies of omission.” We don’t say everything we feel or experience because someone close to us will get angry or have their feelings crushed. We lie by avoiding all the things that some people don’t want to hear.
After a lie has been told, there are so many residual effects: a con costs money, impacts relationships, and fractures relationships. In some ways, bragging can quickly become a pile of lies if we make up impressive facts to get attention or make ourselves seem better or badder than we actually are. Manufactured lies as the foundation of a relationship equals a greater chance of being discovered, rejected, and ruined. Whew! We may tell a small lie to get out of a temporary situation, thinking that there will be no repercussions. But lying as a quick fix will probably backfire, too. Lies add up quickly. The longer we wait to tell truth, the more complicated a situation becomes.
And the most insidious part of lies is how disconnecting they can be.
Once a lie has seen the light of day, there are reverberations. Relationship fractures are nearly impossible to heal, even if there is “forgiveness.” Once a lie is hatched into the world, the idea of trust wavers.
No matter how big or small, lies are always connection killers. Calling them #alternatefacts doesn’t do damage control. We need to look at lies in our life and see how they are connected to our values, and our actions.
So in this current reality where “Alternate Facts” are getting so much play, and there is constant questioning of what is true, and what are lies, how do you know what to believe?
What do you think about lies? I want to know.