Lies, half truths and biting our tongue are the acceptable false façade we are maintaining today. The truth has become a prickly and uncomfortable tool, wielded seemingly only by those who thrive on controversy and confrontation, even though that in itself is a lie. The problem is that the truth has become so actively associated with criticism and condescension that it is regarded as toxic and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
The pretext to this article comes off the back of a conversation I had with a friend of mine. She asked if I thought she had any issues. After assuring her that everyone has issues, that no one is perfect and we all have a chip on our shoulder, she still pressed for an answer from me. She was asking me as a friend. She knows I will be honest with whatever I say or do. She knows I don’t act maliciously unless someone has genuinely hurt or upset me. So I told her that she was aggressive and, at times, highly strung. She kicked off in epic fashion, having a go at me with caps lock on and exclamation marks sent in abundance. Her rhetoric went from belittling to borderline homicidal and I sat there taking a torrent of abuse for answering a question she asked. She clearly had forgotten that fact because she only stopped her despicable diatribe after the fourth time of me typing “YOU ASKED!” The irony of her being aggressive and highly strung towards me wasn’t lost of me but it seemed to have passed her by like a gentle breeze. Even though there were now pages of evidence to substantiate my claims, she took it as an unjustified attack on her. Why? Because like Aaron Sorkin wrote and Jack Nicholson spoke, she “can’t handle the truth!” Very few people can.
We lie all the time. People ask if you are alright and even though you feel like you are dying inside, you say “Yeah I’m fine.” Why? Because no one wants to be labelled a whiner or needy. No one wants to be known as an attention seeker. Or maybe you do it for the same reason as me, namely you don’t believe for one second the person asking actually wants to hear it or could actually help. I rarely speak about my problems to anyone, usually because they can’t solve it and talking about it will only serve to wind me up even more.
We all deceive. If you have the temerity to disagree with someone, they don’t ask for the validity of your opinion but set about trying to convert you to their idea, usually in some kind of manipulative or coercive manner. I have a natural mistrust of people, cultivated by years of experience in seeing humans letting me down spectacularly, not little stuff, major things that really mattered. I expressed this opinion to someone that I did not trust them nor most people in this world (a few select people have my trust). This person shared the opinion that this was sad, that somehow my health, mentally and physically, would suffer and that I should just change my mind. When I explained that I had over 30 years of experience in this field and could give her an encyclopaedic break down of why I have that opinion of the human race, she managed to boil down my opinion and then ridicule it with the simple statement “That’s just silly.” It isn’t silly, it is perfectly rational and reasoned but knowing that the truth was far too uncomfortable for the bubble-esque reality she has created, I just discontinued the conversation and wondered why I was stupid enough to think people can accept such a reality.
If I am accused of something, I apologise, even though I have done nothing wrong. I’m not alone in this deceitful act of peace keeping. Plenty of others do it. Why? Usually the stubborn mule of a man in front of me won’t back down and the side parties just want an end to the fight. It doesn’t matter what is right or wrong, what is true or false. What matters is that everyone else can get on with their lives and if that means one person lying and taking the hit, that’s what needs to be done. It is the wisdom of Dumbledore where we “have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy.” We choose convenience over veracity almost every time. We have said by our actions that it is better to be acceptable than right. We, the generation that should be the most informed, most educated and most progressed, are in reality no more sophisticated that starlings, swarming around in packs, not daring to break away in case some predator leaps on our moment of genuine independence.
So we lie. It is the tongue of cowards, the vocabulary of those who wish to be seen to get along. It is socially stunted lexis of the human race and it will exist forever because while the truth is sacred, everyone else assumes it is scolding too. We were fed lies as children (“Santa is real” / “You face will stick that way” / etc) and they are now the staple diet of everyday lives (“No, you’re bum doesn’t look big” / “I’m fine” / etc). The reality is that lying is just the easier way to live and that is the saddest truth of them all.