The upside of lying
Why lying makes you a better person.
Wed Apr 20 2011
I’m an honest person. I could say it’s my strong moral conviction keeping me clean, which is part of it, but mostly I tell the truth because I’m a terrible liar. Keeping a “lie log” for a week opened my eyes to a bigger truth, though: I lie a lot, and I’m good at it. And sometimes, it’s good for everyone. Here’s why:
Lies make you look better. I tell these lies every day without saying a word: My hair is platinum blond; my eyelashes are black; my skin is flawless; I smell like nectarines with a hint of ginger. Call me shallow, but I don’t want to live in a world where zits and BO so brazenly announce themselves.
Lies protect you (and others). I’m not proud of the fact that I tell my husband the Red Line was crazy-delayed when in fact I left the office late. Or that I saw a former coworker at a coffee shop and pretended I didn’t recognize him (for the record, he did the same). But sometimes it’s better to bend the truth than create unnecessarily tense conversations. And I’m sure that former coworker had as little interest in making banal small talk as I did. Everybody wins!
Lies make you nicer. I confess: I thought a writer’s story idea wasn’t all that great, even though I enthusiastically said it was “really interesting, but….” I expressed delight when a friend divulged he was going to work it out with his insufferable girlfriend. If I didn’t employ these “truth softeners” and just gave everyone the cold, uncandy-coated facts, I’d become the social equivalent of Alcatraz. Here’s how I reconcile it: When I fudge the truth, I do it with the best intentions. Honest.