Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Are You a Liar? No? Yes?

Do you feel offended just by being asked the question? I do. I mean, lying is bad, morally wrong. So why do I do it? Fine, I’m admitting it. I lie. I’m a big fat liar. And no, I’m not talking about writing fiction. But I’ll admit, the idea of this blog came to me because of my fiction. I mean, my characters, like me, are known to lie on occasion. And it sort of makes for a great story.

Don’t judge me. The truth is that we all lie. Have you ever seen the move, Liar, Liar. It really brings home the fact that, well, lying isn’t all bad. It also brings to light the quote, "The truth? You can't handle the truth!" - Jack Nicholson, "A Few Good Men"

As a kid, I remember being taught to lie at church. Mom would give me a little push, and say, “Go tell Mrs. Campbell that she looks pretty today. It will make her feel happy.” Let me tell you, Mrs. Campbell never looked pretty. Mrs. Campbell kind of looked like Uncle Bob, if Uncle Bob gained a few pounds, put on a dress and had a beard. Deep in my self-conscience, I think the lesson I learned was that lying to make someone feel happy was okay. Not to mention the lesson that I keep a pair a tweezers near my bedside table as I grow old.

Then there are the lies we tell our innocent children. You don’t do that, huh? Well, I knew my parents lied to me. I’m not just talking about the tooth fairy and such. I was not going to believe that the stork brought my baby brother. I had a girlfriend at school that told me how it really happened. Daddy kissed my mom while eating a baby seed and Mom swallowed it whole. At six, it sounded pretty gross to me.

Then there are the put-on-the-spot polite lies. The ones I think we should get away with carte blanche. For example: My neighbor recently asked, “Do you like my new hairstyle?” Of which I boldly lied, “Yeah. It’s really suits you.” But I was really thinking: Hack job. Hack Job. Your ears are not your best feature. I know some people consider those white lies. But what makes them white? And what about the saying, “The truth will set you free?” Does my neighbor need to know her haircut is butt ugly? When I ask my husband if my hair looks okay, I do expect the truth, don’t I? So do we opt to tell the truth to those closest to us, hurting them? I.E. “You’re right, those jeans make your ass look as big as Texas.” While we spare the feelings of those we care less about? Hmm, something seems backwards about that.

Then there are the everyday casual lies that play into 99% of everyone’s day. i.e. “How are you doing?” Which we mostly answer, “Fine. Thanks.” Now seriously, do you think my mail lady really wants to hear that last night’s shrimp didn’t sit well with me? Or that hubby snored extra loud, and the dog passed gas all night, so I didn’t sleep well? If I told her the truth, she’d probably view me as some socially unacceptable being and would ask to change routes. So I guess, what I’m saying is that lying is practically expected of us.

Plus, there are the times that lying protects us. Think of times you tell someone you already have plans, so you can avoid an unpleasant event, like eating at someone’s Aunt Bessie’s who gave you food poison the last time you visited. Or the old “Washing my hair” excuse that saves women from going out with a guy that they think is sort of sleazy. Sure, you could go with the, “I don’t think we have anything in common.” but that bit of vague truth will bring on more questions and perhaps lead to more lies.

When we really get down to the nitty gritty about lying, I think the ethically incorrectness of lying isn’t so much about not telling the truth, it’s about why we lie. Is it for the good of everyone? Or only for the good of oneself? But if we are caught lying for the good of someone, doesn’t that make us less trust worthy?

Below are some interesting facts I found on lying:

12% of adults admit to telling lies "sometimes" or "often". The profession with the highest number of liars is teaching, with 65% admitting to telling lies, and a surprising 18% telling surveyors that they tell lies "routinely". The most dishonest time of day is between 9 and 9:30 in the evening, with the early hours of the morning most likely to reveal the truth. Australians are the most honest people in the world, followed closely by Norwegians, Swedes and Belgians. On the other hand, Wales has by far the highest percentage of liars (93%), and the lowest percentage of people who actually admitted to being economical with the truth (a mere 1%). When asked the question "are you a liar?" nearly 97% of people answer "no". When the remaining 3% (self-confessed liars) are subjected to questions calibrating their real, rather than perceived honesty, they turn out to be, on average, 28 times more honest than the people who claimed they never lied. (((SO BASICALLY LIARS ARE MORE HONEST THAN NON-LIARS. Hmmm?)))The most profligate liar in history was US president Richard Nixon, who researchers found to have lied on record 837 times on a single day.

So, do you strive to tell the truth, even when the truth could hurt someone? I admit, I will often try to find a vague answer that can’t be interrupted to be good or bad, so I will feel better about not lying. But in the end, isn’t that the same thing as lying?


MsHellion said...

I attempt to shoot for the Switzerland comment whenever I can. Although I have friends who wish I'd lie more. Or be nicer. Or preferably both.

Incidentally I hate the "how are you doing" lie. It's why I hate that question; it forces me to utter a lie, and ridiculous lie at that. Clearly you can hear in my voice when I say "I'm fine" that I'm not, but you're not interested in the real situation, so why did you bother asking how I was doing? I prefer silence. Work in silence, people. *LOL*

I prefer the Southern Truth. It's the sort of honesty couched in a "compliment", but is anything but. It's even more entertaining than the lie, if you can pull it off. Amuses me to no end. Except when it's being directed to me and my hackjob haircut. *LOL*

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, Chrisite.

And for the record, I never lie. I just editor the truth for a greater impact. :)


Tori Lennox said...

I think if anyone claims to never lie, they're probably lying. *g*

Julie Robinson said...

According to my DH, a Connecticut Yankee in Louisiana's court, we Southerns lie, but they don't. At least that's what he said 21 years ago when we first got married. Simply because of our southern charm, even with people we don't like. Northerners, he claimed then, don't pretend to like someone. I humphed at that, believe me!! After all, don't we have some of the biggest liars coming from the North/Mid-Eastern coast?? There's something to be said for our Southern 'tact.'

Christie Craig said...


I like the southern truth too, but it can come with a sting, too.

And I'm sure your hackjob of hair cut looked great. LOL.


Christie Craig said...

Howdy Faye,

That's what we do in fiction girl. LOL.


Christie Craig said...


So true girl. I can say the majority of my lies are for the sake of being polite.

Thanks for stopping by.


Christie Craig said...


I think you've hit the nail on the head, girl. Tack. All lies associated with tack should be forgiven. And yes, we southern folks are know to have a tad more tack. This said I have neightbor who says, she'd rather deal with a straight forward insult that one sugar coated.

Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michelle said...

I try very hard not to lie, but sometimes you just gotta do it. As you said, does your neighbor really need to know that the person they trust with their screwed it up royally? Just like, did I really need to know that the girl I worked with for 3 hours lost her virginity to the guy she was dating? I didn't ask, but boy did she tell. I would have rather she just said nothing, so instead I lied and said "oh wow..." because really what do you say to that?

Jana DeLeon said...

I think the thing you need to assess with lying is intent. If the intent is to deceive for your own benefit, then likely you're doing something wrong. If you intent is to avoid conflict, avoid lengthy conversation or not hurt someone's feelings when it's not warranted, then let 'er rip. :)

catslady said...

I always called them little white lies. If it's a lie to prevent from hurting someone's feelings, I think that's okay. If it's to save your own skin, sorry, then it's a lie lol.

thinkaboutit said...

Check out this essay specifically about why people lie