broadsideblog

The End Of Lying

In behavior on August 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm
Cover of "The Truth"
Cover of The Truth

A new book is out, “Liespotting: Proven Techniques To Detect Deception.” The author, Pamela Meyer, has one of the coolest titles I’ve ever seen — nope, not the Harvard MBA but Certified Fraud Examiner.

I think a lot about lying. Not how to do it, but wondering when and where it’s happening and why. Maybe because, as a journalist, my job is to ferret out whatever truth I can from people, sometimes people who really don’t want that to happen. Maybe because, the only two times in my childhood that I was spanked, once by my Mom and once by my Dad, were when they caught me lying. (Not that I did it often, or at all.)

Their unhesitating and visceral reaction left a powerful impression on me.

Now, though, older and sadly wiser, I see the lies in their lives, and in mine and in others, whether they are verbal, or of commission or omission.

I was, in 1998, the victim of a con man, whose web of deception was tight, thick, eventually suffocating. It shook me to my foundations, making me question every naive or safe assumption I had been making. My marriage ended after barely two years when my husband left and promptly married a colleague from work. That was less of a surprise.

In both instances, I was lied to on a regular, probably daily basis.

What I hate about lies is, very selfishly, how they make me feel when I discover them and review the decisions I made under their spell — stupid, manipulated, deceived.

I tend to be fatally candid. I’d rather take the hit, (and I have), of a friendship ended or angry relative or annoyed boss than cheat them with my deception and fake smiles and manufactured approval. I want to be in the game with all my heart, playing to win. If I discover that lying to one another underlies any relationship, it’s like running over broken glass.

I’m gone.

When is a lie acceptable? Ever?

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  1. I don’t think it’s acceptable to lie. I don’t feel good doing it, and I feel horrible when I catch someone doing it to me, or worse, as I recently discovered, to my family. There’s no reason for it. If you can’t be in something 100% and feel you have to be a jerk and lie your way through it, then just don’t even bother.

  2. The larger issue is social lies — those that can protect the feelings of yourself or others. Like…now I will be on crutches. I REALLY am sick of people asking me what’s wrong and wanting details. One friend suggested saying “car accident” which might shut them up. It would be a lie used solely to shut them up…Not because I want to lie but to buy myself some peace and quiet.

  3. “I desperately wanted to see what life as a giraffe might be like.” Or tell them it’s a social experiment to see if people really just can’t help themselves ;) In that case, I don’t know. I think it might almost be more amusing to shock them into silence with a ton of really gruesome details, or bore them to death with over-information.

  4. Hi Caitlin. Nice to see your still in business and still getting visitors. I haven’t had the energy to start up again. I guess I’ll look around for something less isolated and solitary and, if it doesn’t happen, go back to writing periodic opinion pieces for The Monitor and Common Dreams. Wanted to tell you that your final blogpost on True/Slant was truly eloquent. Beautifully done and so true. I certainly wasn’t as deeply into True/Slant as you were, but it was an extraordinarily rich and diverse community, a rarity in our business. Good luck with Broadside.

  5. Thanks. It does feel pretty darn quixotic to pound away into the ether. But, here I am.

    Glad you liked that final post. I miss that mix a lot.

  6. A point of humor: A friend of my s/o is missing her leg from mid-thigh down, and has been since childhood. Someone suggested to her that when someone nosy asks what’s wrong with her, that she get a stricken look on her face, look down, panic, and say, “OH MY GOD! Where did it go?!?!?!?”

    Keep your sense of humor about life’s little injustices, I suppose, is the moral of the story. People will eventually get the hint!

  7. I like it! My standard answer will probably be “You should see the other guy.” The crutches have arrived and they are as attractive and comfortable as they can be.

  8. Hi Caitlin,

    Just discovered your blog via the WordPress home page — look forward to exploring it further.

    I too have thought a lot about this subject — wrote a post about the ‘truth/privacy’ spectrum ‘Control is an Illusion – Privacy and Truth’ which I’ll link below. Interesting and not always easy subject to define!

    Good luck with the crutches and your upcoming surgery.

    Cheers from Sydney,
    Carolyn at My Sydney Paris Life

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