Mirror, Mirror...Everybody Lies

“Everybody lies”…at least this is what Hugh Laurie’s character, Dr. Gregory House, espouses on the TV show House.

We live in a society where it has become acceptable to lie. Even children are taught to lie at a young age, their adult-like filter being put into place. The filter that tells us it’s ok to skew the truth. At times, we might call them “little white lies” told in order to keep the peace and not rock the boat, but in reality, lies are lies - little or otherwise - and they always have a way of catching up with you at some point.

In the American culture, the well-known saying goes “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Why is this? Why are you afraid to tell the truth, to speak your mind? Why do you hold back? It is my belief and observation that people simply do not wish to rock the boat and stand out against the crowd – against the masses who all hold the same view.

In the modern age of technology, it has become even more prevalent to feel the need to go with the masses. You see this on social networking sites such as Facebook where people post photos or questions with the intention of wanting others, for the most part, to agree with them and to like them. Anyone who does not agree gets stones cast their way. A couple of years back I made a comment on a well-known Alabama photographer’s site that went against all of the other hundred comments. Nobody seemed to have wanted to offer an opinion other than the ones being spewed by everyone else…except me. The interesting fact was that during this time I received several private email messages from people who knew this photographer and told me that what I said was true. My assessment of this person was correct but they also told me that they could not say so themselves and were happy that someone did. For the most part, I refrain from commenting on posts or photos on Facebook or Flickr unless they truly move me, at which point I let the artist know that their work is inspiring.

The truth about lies is that everybody does it…in America at least. My German (-American) husband posted this after yesterday morning’s discussion about the topic. In the post he states, Germans are known to be direct and rude. In the German culture lying to be nice is considered fake and not replying is considered rude. People prefer inconvenient and uncomfortable opinions over no answer or a faked one.” This topic comes up regularly in our household and did so yesterday morning when I discovered that a Facebook “friend” lied about the reason she removed me from her Friends list. Now, I’m not one to really care about the reason why. I just don’t like being told something that is not the truth. There is no reason to tell me that you’re updating your Facebook profile to only family and will thus be removing me from your list.

I know that Facebook is a virtual world…another topic of discussion that comes up regularly. People are on Facebook to interact with each other – with people you might know, but mostly with people you do not know and happen to meet online. I do not know of a single person who has only family members on their private list. Why would you need to? Regardless, I found out she was not telling the truth. How? Well, you don’t have to be an IT specialist to look at the list of Friends on a mutual contact and notice that she did not remove them. I would much rather someone tells me the truth than have to go through such lengths as to fabricate a non-truth. In my opinion, it takes more effort to tell a lie than the actual truth.

We lie not only to others, but to ourselves as well. How many times has a woman stood in front of a mirror with her husband in the background asking that well-known, and (for men) dreaded, question: “Does this dress make me look fat?”? An American man knows better than to speak his mind and tell the truth. Whatever he says, he’s doomed, and any chance of “dessert” after dinner goes out the door. Instead, he lies because that is what she wants to hear. The woman will interpret ever little intonation, analyze every word spoken, and notice even the slightest aversion of eyes unless he says “You look great honey!”  And women…are you really that insecure that you even have to ask? Can you not look in the mirror and see for yourself?

We all like praise. We all like to be liked. What we do not like is to know the real truth. In the end, it comes down to is being able to look yourself in the mirror and see the truth and to believe in yourself enough to be able to speak it, even if it means going against the masses. Speak your mind. Dare to be different, to be an individual, not just “one of the crowd”. You won’t always be popular, but you will be true to yourself.