Mirror Magazine

Lie just a little bit
Lying: a deliberate act of dishonesty or an innocent attempt at minimising damage? Ishani Ranasinghe looks into the reasons why we lie

Lying…. Whether we like it or not, it is definitely a part of our everyday lives. There are those who like to be all virtuous and say that they never lie… That’s a lie right there. Why? Come on, admit it, we all lie. Remember those white lies that got you out of sticky situations and the same ones that helped to make a story you told, a bit more exciting?

Call it being deceptive, shrewd or clever… no matter how you describe your behaviour, much of what you communicate to others is definitely some form of lying. This is because, we just don’t tell the truth. As for our conscience… all of us do a pretty good job of justifying our lies by coming up with some sort of reason.

Come to think of it, the only people who probably tell the truth are little children. It is quite refreshing, comical, (and often embarrassing) to hear them being so honest and forthright. Of course, this doesn’t last long; as they grow older we start cautioning them about their candid remarks, as they cease to be cute and funny. By the time they are teenagers, they have learned how to lie just like us.

Telling a white lie cannot be that bad, can it? What harm can come of it? But what starts as an innocent lie often turns into pathological or persistent lying, and there could be many reasons why one would resort to lying.

Many young people, teenagers especially, lie for many reasons. Many people believe that teenagers lie to prove their independence. All of us can be quite evasive with regards to certain issues and feel that it is not a deliberate lie. “Being evasive is also a way of telling less than the whole truth,” says Nishi adding that sometimes you just have to.

When speaking to a few teenagers about this issue, it was quite clear that this occurs most often with those whose parents are strict. Tehani says that there are times she has to do that just to get out of the house.

When we are in school, being popular can sometimes be a very important thing. You always want to be a part of the ‘in’ crowd. For those of you who are saying ‘no way’ right now… stop lying. Admit it, it was a nice feeling to be liked and be looked upto and all that. To get there what do teenagers do? They more or less lie. They may lie about their parents' jobs, financial status, the places they go to and other similar things just so they will appear ‘hip and cool’.

“Most of us don’t really like unpleasant situations,” says Rehan justifying why a white lie really wouldn’t hurt anyone. We tend to keep away from such situations to stay out of trouble. Think about how often we have gotten into sticky situations. “When this happens we don’t really confront the situation, do we?” says Shehani. Not really, instead we just lie to get out of the situation rather than face the unpleasantness.

Sometimes it is to avoid unpleasantness with a person whom they do not want to offend directly. Imagine this – you don’t want to really tell someone they look hideous in a particular dress they have chosen. “You could say this to your closest friend, but not to anyone else,” says Hiruni who adds that instead you would probably say something like, “Oh! It’s not really you.” So you are not encouraging that person, but showing reluctance to agree. So, for Hiruni, the lie was for a good cause.

Unfortunately, lying does not really work. It usually tends to build up an expanding cycle of problems. Many people tend to see through lies, especially parents and teachers. Or they find out about it. People are bound to feel hurt when they find out that they have been lied to; sometimes by their closest friends or someone they hold in high esteem.

Say you have lied to your parents. Their first reaction may be anger and they may ground you. However, they are hurting inside, thinking that the child they love has resorted to lying. Lying, unfortunately, breaks down trust and drives a wedge between parents and adolescents, between a teenager and her peers, or a student and a teacher. Once it has been found out that you have lied, you are always under suspicion and surveillance, and looked upon as someone who cannot be trusted.

But imagine a place where everyone decided to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for just one day? Imagine no covering up, no lies of commission or omission, not even the smallest, most innocent little white lie…

It is hard isn’t it… No matter what the consequences are, who we hurt or what we bring about to ourselves, we will continue to lie. That’s what we have been doing all our lives and have got quite good at. Yet, maybe what we should consider is what exactly a white lie is? And not really turn into compulsive liars. A personal code of ethics and a well-oiled conscience seem like a good place to start!


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