The Lies We Tell
Humans are odd creatures, and deception is deep within our core. When we are sad, we mask our feelings with happiness but do not allow ourselves to become too happy. When we are rich, we tell everybody we are poor and then buy fancy cars. When angry, we pretend to be satisfied or overreact to get our point across.
Our entertainment is full of bold lies, like the movie Star Wars. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Of course, we accept Star Wars is fiction, and viewers buy into the lie. They even have Star Wars themed weddings, clothing, YouTube channels, parties, and religions.
We even lie to ourselves with a pep talk. “Hey, losing that job is just a setback.” Or a bold-faced deception. “My brother deserved to get hit.”
Why do we lie? There are hundreds of reasons that range from minor personality faults to a full-blown psychopath. From harmless entertainment to a grifting career. Is it wrong to lie? Of course, we consider some lies “socially acceptable.” The movie Star Wars is “accepted fiction of the highest caliber.”
A big part of our minds seems to contain a built-in lie generator that should improve our day. “Hey, Sam, what did you do last night?” “I went to a restaurant with some friends.” Sam actually sat at home and watched television alone. He lied to feel better about his life, and the lie gave him something to talk about. When further questioned, Sam invented more lies about the restaurant, including the girl he met. Soon, Sam created an entirely fictitious evening backstory. What is going on? The lie made Sam feel better and entertained the person he spoke with. All good things. Right?
Of course, there are consequences to Sam’s lie. Sam now must remember the lie, which does not come naturally because the event never happened. Sam’s friends might find out about the lie and get angry about being lied to. The lie will continue to spread and entangle his life.
Is Sam proud of his lie? At first, he enjoyed lying, but now he regrets it. Will Sam lie next week about a different restaurant?
There is another class of liars. The people who truly believe the lie. For example, the flat earth society uses any means to keep its lie alive, including deception, corruption, and violence. One could explain this class of people with psychology, but these people know that the lie is a lie, yet they still believe.
Where did all this lying start? As children, we did not have much going on because our parents made all the decisions, but there was freedom on the playground. There, we met our friends, and together, we embellished. Perhaps we lied, rebelled, or entertained our friends. Lying is a skill that gets better with age. Most people grow out of bold lying and limit their half-truths to a minimum. Some people embrace lying and take it to impressive levels.
What about a fiction writer? In a way, they lie all day long and put a disclaimer on their work to show fiction. Yet, some try hard to deceive people, and others cannot differentiate between them.
It is easy to write a lie. “Sam told his friend that he went to a restaurant.” The truth is that I do not know anybody named Sam. Now, let’s go a little further. “The vampire walked into the room.” There have never been vampires, and there never will be. However, that simple statement is entirely acceptable. Readers know there are no vampires, but they agreed in advance to be entertained. So, they accept this non-truth.
Is it ethical to be a fiction writer? Or are they simply liars? I suppose the ethical questions can be answered by how the work presentation. If a writer fully acknowledges the fictitious aspect and does not pass their work off as real, then they act ethically. And their readers are ethical because they want to be entertained and accept a lie. Also, let us not forget that the early rocket pioneers dreamed of going to space just like their comic books.
What about me? Of course, I am guilty of lying to others and myself. I regret any harm that my lies have caused but embrace my mental fantasy world. I want to think I have come up with some creative plots with this “lie generator.” Still, I do my best to be an honest person. Or am I lying now? It is hard to say because the thing that invents the lies is telling me not to lie about lying. Bummer.

You’re the best -Bill
April 10, 2019 Updated March 09, 2024

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