JESSICA GIANNONE — Opinions Editor
When we step into society, it is a given that we will try to maximize our experience in this world. In less dramatic terms, we just want to be happy, do what we want and get what we want.
In order to do that, we must obviously allow desirable situations for ourselves, and those situations, of course, include social harmony. We must know how to interact with the people we interact with to be a normal, socially-functioning person. We can’t just walk up to our employers and be like: “You’re lookin’ kinda funky today. Did you gain weight? Probably. Figures, because you’re a lazy jerk. Now how about that raise?”
Even in the dating world. “Hi, how are you? You’re looking hot. I’m certainly gonna try to nail you tonight.” Yes, that would go quite well, I’m sure.
I think of it as this: social harmony makes it easier to move forward in life, and, of course, sometimes this social harmony requires lies. Yes, lies. Fibbing, beating around the bush, misleading, sending mixed signals. Sometimes we need to skew the truth to get by sufficiently (but we all already know this).
What I find interesting to imagine, however, isn’t a society that gets by with its white lies, but one that doesn’t. What if there were no such thing as a lie? If you’ve seen the movie “The Invention of Lying,” it would be a bit easier to picture. It would be a world where everyone basically always knew what was on your mind (if you felt obligated to speak, that is); like we all had extreme cases of Tourette’s.
You’re at a job interview. The employer questions you on your skills, desires and intentions. You tell them: “I think I can probably do OK, but I don’t think I’m that great. I’m not that familiar with your company, but whatever. I don’t even know why anyone would want this job, actually, but I need the money. I hope you’ll be convinced, nonetheless, to choose me.”
A big difference from: “I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. I have acquired a good amount of experience that I can, without a doubt, bring to this company. And I just love what you’ve done, especially with (some random statistic that you reviewed for two minutes). I wouldn’t choose any other place to be.”
How about: You’re on a first date. You meet him at the restaurant in your carefully constructed outfit. After you greet each other, he tells you your eyes are very pretty. You pretend you appreciate a hobby he’s into. You say you have to go to the restroom, but you really touch up and call your friend. He butters you up about your career and
acts fascinated as he brags about things he probably hasn’t done. You agree with each other about everything as you nod and smile and laugh with interest and enthusiasm. You deprive yourself of food to look polite but you really want to scarf down an entire burger (maybe that’s just me).
And this is all perfectly common and normal. But sometimes, it’s really just a game. You’re acting out a certain role to get to the real thing.
You know the scenarios go on and on. Missed exams, late papers, skipped appointments, compliments, reassurances (you look fine), apologies, courtesies (it’s not inconvenient at all), phony appearances and impressions (I’m cool. I hate make-up, I’m drug-free and I love the Giants!), smiles, promises, suggestions, excuses (I’m sorry babe, I have a headache), cheating, embarrassments (wasn’t me).
If we really lived in a world where everyone spoke the truth, would it be boring because we would know there is nothing to prove or imagine? Exciting because of the true diversity that would ultimately be revealed? Or would we just be miserable after hearing the rude remarks people really want to say? It would be an easier world in some cases—we would avoid all the BS, game-playing and wasted time/efforts. But it would be harder in a sense, because we would not be able to hide from anything.
It’s weird to think about how often we speak anything but the truth. Whether we’re just fibbing to be polite or faking our entire identities, we’re simply not expressing the realities. And for what? To make people believe certain things about ourselves that are either true or untrue so we can get through the day and try to call it a success.
I’m not preaching falsehood, but we don’t realize how much we really fool and convince people on a daily basis—or how many people fool us .
Honesty vs harmony: a world without fibs
JESSICA GIANNONE — Opinions Editor