The Art of Lying

dkdxi By dkdxi, 7th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Short essay on how mastering the art of lying is essential to humanities survival

The Art of Lying

Think back for a moment to the time when you were a kid. You’d just been caught out doing something you weren’t supposed to and now you’re being given ‘The Talk’. So one or possibly both of your parents are telling you, in their strictest and most unrelentingly serious voices: “You must never lie, you must always tell the truth. Lying is bad. Promise that you will never do it again!”

Remember that? OK, so, recalling that moment years later, can you think of a single, worse piece of advice you were ever given?

Human beings lie, it’s what we do. Other animals deceive but they don’t lie. There is a difference. A blow fish will expand its body to convince predators that it is much larger than it actually is, and a chameleon mimics the shades of its surroundings to hide from both predators and prey. But this is deception to promote survival. But we lie, all the time, and often for quite good reasons. In short, lying is the oil that lubricates our social interactions.

How many times have you said: “Nice to see you!” – when in fact meeting that person has had precisely zero impact on your well-being, and quite possibly the reverse. Still worse is when we are told to: “Have a nice day!” They don’t mean that at all. What they actually mean is: “Go away, I’m finished with you now.” But social protocol dictates that we rarely say what we actually mean and this enables all seven billion of us to occupy this tiny planet because we lie to each other constantly in order to secure our own safety and protect the feelings of others.

Again, how many times have you ever told someone: “I’m sure it can’t be as bad as all that.” How can you possibly know? Have you trailed them for every moment for the last five years of their existence? Of course not, but social protocol dictates that we offer some words of comfort in order to bolster this person’s sense of worth. In other words, lying is an essential skill and, if we are ever to achieve anything in life we need to master it as soon as possible.

The simple proof of this comes from our politicians. In the run-up to an election do you really want a politician to tell you the truth – that times are grim, that your taxes are going to go up and that you, your friends and your family are all going to have to make major sacrifices in order to keep the country, and society as a whole, safe and secure? Of course you don’t. What you want to hear is that if we can just get around this difficult corner then we will emerge into the sunny uplands of paradise. But even as they say it we know it’s a lie and we simply opt for the politician who can tell that lie most convincingly. Which is why, as the saying goes, we get the politicians we deserve.

So, if you are now bringing up kids, then, if you are smart, and if you want them to become successful, you will teach them how to lie. Their survival, and quite possibly your own, may ultimately depend of how well your children can master the art of lying.


Children, Lying, Parents, Politics

Meet the author

author avatar dkdxi
A writer who's covered areas from music to politics, film to sport. Right now I'm working on the supernatural. Weird stuff is cool.

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
8th Apr 2012 (#)

When we are born we come innocent. Then we grow "wise" as we age. From personal experience, I do adhere to the niceties, but do not lie to deceive. It is so much easier as I don't have to remember anything! People can also be comfortable around me and attract the right group. And they reciprocate mostly. Thanks, dkdxi - siva

Reply to this comment

author avatar GV Rama Rao
21st Apr 2012 (#)

Most of the lies you mentioned are white lies. We use them for expediency. If we want to get along in life, we must get along.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?