I do not know what is “usual”, or common practise – regarding wits, intelligence, the suitability and social acceptance of one’s message, use of language, and so on. I do know that my own vocabulary and the extend of my use of swearing, especially when I’m disappointed in some facet of life, has burned bridges down. But I firmly believe in that vocabulary is like the stringsof a violin; if you never use alternative frequences, “modes”, then your music is flat.
I had a row with my loved one. I was out of money as usual. My rent was due, and I had approximately “6 months salary” worth of debt. My frustration carried on to our discussion, which was clearly a fact that turned her completely off. She had been disappointed to herself also, and I couldn’thonestly back up in this situation. I was being way too honest. You know, it sounds so strange when I say it here; being honest is bad, but it can be. Read on.
She was, in counter, upset and disrespectful of me, and we separated. I was soon sorry about the things, and sent her a message of apologies, and asked her not to drive wickedly – if she still felt upset. We sometimes have this strangeknack of being so distant, even though we are close soul mates. If time has separated usfor a week or so, we become something almost “uninitiated”, and need again time to accomodate with each other.
It’s dangerous to drive under an emotionalstress. I was already feeling so bad about having been so blunt – I could’ve put my words to be more positive, even though the message would have remained (I think).
Well, no problems there, she was home soon, and I was relieved and happy.
First lesson: if you tell your opinion of a truth in a way that “sinks in” to your counterparty, you will get an angry and defensive counter-offense; or, worse, an invisible poison dart. The poison dart means that the person doesn’t show that he was hurt, but carrieson a grudge. The angry counter-offensive you will identify easily, but the poison dart can be sent in a very quiet mode, or with delay – or both.
What really bothered me, was the fact that she made half a dozen small lies during thevery brief encounter we had – it was maybe 30 minutes, or even less. If you count that a person makes 6 lies in 30 minutes, it means that during 16 hours of awake within a day, the person will make around (2*16*6) = 128 lies. One hundred and twenty-eight lies!! This is quite close to the phrase that I’d heard before: an average person lies 200 times a day.
Lies are interesting
And please, don’t let the background story get too much in the way. It’s only to be an example. I trust her 100% and I know it was under this tense atmosphere of argument that also makes one lie.
We use lies all the time. They are within our language, its constructs, its capability to make nuances and weighs. Proper and highly educated use of language can even enable speaking so, that you make impressions, but never carry any responsibility. It’s on the verge of being a diplomat or a pathological liar.
Why do we lie?
This is my primary question, and my topic and focal point of interest. Why do we lie?What exists behind lies? What are assumptions, what is fact? How can we probe into themechanisms of lies?
Psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of the mind; reading fiction, reading biographies, reading a lot. I think these are the methods to understand liars. And of course – liars can tell a lot about their own motivations.
Lying can be a hard-to-quit habit. It can become a lifelong friend, and indeed, onlywhen a person starts the road of getting rid of lying the truthful life becomes liberating.
What I mean by “truth” is not something like this:
“Look mom and dad; I bought a pristine Truth statue from Plast’o-Mart, only $19.95I’ll put it in top of my shelf! YES!”
Truth is not always appreciated. Being truthful may seem being blunt, disregardingother people, being emotionally unskilled; there’s a whole array of things that a truthful person can be blamed about.
Logic can lead a good way in showing one’s skillfully crafted sentences. But logic ishard to follow. Without proper education, on both ends, logic becomes illogica andpartial – and partial logic is quite useless indeed. And when we do get to the bottomof a sentence, there’s “temporal” logic – logic with time dependency. A sentence truetoday, may not be true at all in a couple of days. In a temporal logic statement theobjects of the sentence depend on time, somehow. For example: “it rained” is true, always, because we understand that at some point in history, it did indeed rain. Butif you add “it rained yesterday” to the sentence, now the timeframe is limited toa 24-hour period, namely day before current day. The truth value of the sentencethus varies with when it is presented.
It is my quest to the human mind; our social mind, our weaknesses, our fears of retaliation – of humiliation, and a few words about Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann’s theory called “Spiral of Silence“.
The pre-Nazi Germany of 1930s and probably also the post-Nazi 1945 onwards, fascist / Nazi Germany was a special atmospheric environment. In a totalitarian attitude environment people are especially cautious, and wary of expressing an attitude or belief that would be against the supposed majority.
Note; we cannot — god help us! — even in the year 2011 count the “absolute” opinion of a mass of people.
Knowing the absolute perception of truth state of all people would require a) total knowledge of brain functions combined with b) mapping of hundreds of thousands of brain signals with an individual variance of the signal meaningsand c) add to the soup the variability of the already varying signals. The brain is malleable, or as in neuroscience people say, it’s “plastic” – it has plasticity.
So, in other words,people want to gang up with the winners as much as possible. This situation reminds of the processof voting MPs (members of the parliament) into the House of Parliament. Some MP candidates havebeen ultra honest all the way in. Some have more to hide; it’s also like the beauty pageant contestsin Finland; some girls are suddenly turned into media fiascos, because – yes, they’d had a lifebefore the contest, and weren’t daddy’s little angels anymore.
Reasons that people do lie:
– to feel better
– to cover things up
– because it’s an easy way out
– “because we can”
– a habit
– staying out of trouble
– lying out of being afraid
– not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings
– being ashamed of something
– anticipating future outcomes, often punishment
– we simply cannot handle the truth (even country-wide consensual lies)
– to entertain others
What does the theoretical communications studies say? Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann was a German researcher and professor of communications that specialized in one area, among others: that of publicly expressed opinion. This has relevance to lying in at least one aspect; with modern society, we have basically less and less private rooms – places where we can be sure that our opinions are not somehow recorded, written, or video-taped. Noelle-Neumann essentially said that people want to be on the side of winners – even at the cost of truth. Think about it!
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