Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Say Bye-Bye To Lies

A few months ago I wrote a playful column about honesty, or the lack thereof, and explained that three things challenge my ability to be totally truthful. First, I come from a long line of Irish storytellers, where an interesting story is more important than an accurate story. Next, I write this weekly humor column, which means, basically, that I get paid to make stuff up. And finally, my fulltime job is sales, a profession where people have been known once in a while to offer interesting stories rather than accurate stories, along with occasionally making stuff up.

When that column was published, someone very close to me read it, and said, “So, Bill, you just announced to the whole world that you are a liar.”

I replied, “Come on, it’s just a humor column. I’m not a liar, because when I said I was a liar I was actually lying. Um, wait a minute, that didn’t come out right. What I mean is, I always tell the truth, well, maybe not always, but I’m not a liar — at least no more than anyone else sitting at the NBC News anchor desk.”

Wow, did you see how quickly I played the old moral equivalency card? “But Mom, everyone else was doing it!” To which Mom would reply, “And if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Causing you to say, “Uh, speaking of bridges, you were asking why my clothes are so wet?”

Just because everyone else is doing it does not make it right. And claiming that everyone else is doing it does not let you off the hook, especially when talking to your mom, your spouse, or the arresting officer.

A research study about lying was conducted a while back by Dr. Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts. “People tell a considerable number of lies in everyday conversation,” Dr. Feldman said. “It was a very surprising result. We didn’t expect lying to be such a common part of daily life.”

The study discovered that men and women tell approximately the same number of lies, but the lies told by men are different than those told by women. “Women were more likely to lie to make the person they were talking to feel good,” Feldman explained, “while men lied most often to make themselves look better.” (I suspect this aspect of lying may become known as the “Brian Williams Syndrome.”)

But even when lying, women are focused on trying to make others feel good. As a man, that doesn’t make me feel very good, so I’d better tell a quick lie about myself to feel better.

Anyway, lying and dishonesty are far too rampant in our society, so it’s time to make a change. And the only way to make a change in society is to start with one person at a time. So my belated Lenten resolution is this: to convince my wife to be more honest. No, I’m kidding! That was a joke! My wife is the most honest person I’ve ever met. Honest.

No, my belated Lenten resolution is for me to be more honest. After all, there is no reason why someone such as myself, who has won multiple Nobel Prizes, should tell lies just to make myself feel better. Maybe people who haven’t written a dozen New York Times best-selling novels don’t feel good about themselves and therefore need to lie, but not this guy. That’s it, no more lies and no more exaggeration.

However, be aware that from now on if you ask me what I think about your new clothes or your new hairstyle, you are definitely going to find out.

No comments:

Post a Comment