We’re all prone to telling lies
Published 12:00 am, Thursday, July 13, 2017
I never lie.
Obviously, I’m not telling the truth. Everybody lies. In fact, everybody lies all the time. Imagine trying to go through an entire day without lying. The character played by Jim Carrey in the movie, “Liar Liar,” was forced to do just that. Hilarity ensued.
Actually, I’m lying about that. The movie was stupid, not funny. I hate Jim Carrey movies. On that, I’d be willing to take a lie-detector test.
Most of the lies we tell are white lies, minor fibs intended to spare someone’s feelings. Like when you visit someone in the hospital and tell them they look good. No one looks good in the hospital. That’s why they’re in the hospital.
Nor does anyone being waked look like they are sleeping. We say they do to comfort the bereaved. If we were being truthful, we would say the deceased looks better than he did in the hospital.
White lies, of course, are not always purely altruistic. Sometimes they are a combination of altruistic and self-serving, with a smidgeon of self-preservation thrown in.
“Does this dress make me look fat?”
Responding with a simple no to this query, as any married man will attest, is always the correct answer. That the particular garment might make the owner look like the Hindenburg with cleavage is irrelevant. The objective here is to, one, spare feelings, and, two, sidestep a confrontation that will end with the purchase of a much more expensive dress.
Experts say that we begin lying at around age 3 or 4:
“Did you hit your brother?” “No.”
“Then how did he get the lump on his head?” “Maybe the dog did it.”
“The dog is tied up outside.” “I think I want to talk to a lawyer.”
Toddlers aren’t the only members of the family unit who play fast and loose with the truth. What mother has never told a child that if he keeps making a certain face it will freeze like that? And what younger child has never been told by an older sibling that he was adopted?
Although the white lie is probably the best known, lies come in several colors.
There is the gray lie, which is kind of like the white on performance enhancing drugs.
There is the red lie, which is a lie one tells to hurt another person or get even. The entire soap opera genre is based on the red lie.
There is the black lie, which is frequently employed to obtain something one might desire or to get ahead. Think middle managers here.
There is the boldface lie, which is a flat-out lie you and everyone else know is a flat-out lie. Another name for the boldface lie could be “that’s-my-story-and-I’m-sticking-to-it” lie. Or maybe the “you-going-to-believe-me-or-your-own-lying-eyes” lie.
Then there is the blue lie, which is a lie told on behalf of a particular group that has the power to bind the group together more closely. The blue lie can encompass any and all forms of lying, including exaggeration, deception, plagiarism, fabrication, broken promises, boldface … whatever works.
A variation of the blue lie could be called the red-white-and-blue lie because it is a favorite of politicians. The red-white-and-blue lie has become so common in our nation’s capital, George (“I cannot tell a lie”) Washington no longer bothers to turn over in his grave.
Count me among those who believe that if life was fair, a liar’s pants would actually catch on fire.
Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jimboshea.