“Everything I say is a lie.” If this statement is true then it is false.
Everything I say is a lie means that this statement is also a lie, which means that not everything I say is a lie, which means that this statement may not be a lie, which means everything I say is a lie, which means…
We are very concerned with the liar’s paradox; we want to know what the true lie is. Is it truly a lie? Or maybe a minor variation of truth? Or even a better version of the truth?
We don’t condone immoral lies. Lying for personal gain, selfish manipulation, misleading the law, adultery, - any general violation of the Ninth Commandment - is a sin.
But what about little white lies - fibs, fish stories, tall tales, inaccurate narratives, whoppers – whatever you call it? The innocent alterations of reality, the pretty embroidery on our ‘proper’ life?
We all lie. If you say, you don’t – you are lying right now. Are you trying to say that none of the following has ever happened in your life?
- You said “Good morning” on a nasty rainy morning on Monday.
- Someone asked “How are you?” and you replied “Fine” when you were so much not fine.
- You asked someone "How are you?" when you didn’t actually care.
- You said, “I’ll call you tomorrow” and you never did.
- You said, “Sorry, I’ve missed you call” when you were not even remotely sorry.
- You said, “I did not drink much” pretending you had no idea how much is ‘much’.
- You said, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense” while you were absolutely clueless.
- You clicked on “I agree with the terms and conditions”, when you didn’t really read the entire thing.
- Your 5-years-old asked “Where did I come from?” and you gave him the stork version.
- Nobody asked you, but you did not volunteer some useful information.
If any of these happened to you, you are a liar. If none of these happened – you are not a liar. And not a human.
Lying is a part of our evolution, it makes humans - human. It’s one of the most amazing, advanced cognitive abilities we have. We are genetically programmed to lie. The liar proved to have advantage over others. So the gene was passed on.
We all lie. And honestly, the world is probably a better place because of our white lies. As long as we aren’t hurting others or breaking the law, these innocent lies can make life more pleasant. It is our way of tailoring the ideal life, fighting our fears and making others happy. Let her believe that she looks gorgeous in that pink disaster. Let him believe that he is the greatest lover. Let the world believe that you really care.
We all have fantasies. We love our fantasies, and we don’t want to be reminded that they are not true. We would rather believe in lies and be delusional but happy. We play the lying game simply to cushion us from ourselves. They lie to us, we know they're lying, they know we know they're lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them. If played by the rules, this game can make our life enjoyable. Delusional but enjoyable.
So we lie. Men lie more, women lie better. Men do it more often, women provide higher quality lies. Men lie for the sake of lying, for entertainment, and in order to create a good image of themselves. Women lie to others to make others feel better, to themselves – to make themselves feel better, to themselves and others - to make sense of their extravagant shopping bills. Women can fantasize better than men, which makes them more reliable liars. They are also more analytical and pay more attention to stupid minor details, so they can turn little lies into intricately-sewn tales. Men, on the other hand, are visual creatures, they need to see and not just imagine. Rather than create elaborate untruths, they stick to long-proven popular basics (fishing, golfing, traffic, weather and overtime) or being ‘economical’ with the truth. Unlike women, guys usually don’t feel guilty about lying, which gives them some fibbing advantage.
Some people lie professionally. It’s in an implicit job description. Professional poker players bluff to win. Actors pretend to be who they are not, to convey the message. Writers convey the message by plotting what never happened. Advertisers stretch the truth to make a profit. Lawyers do all of the above to play with justice. Politicians do what lawyers do but bigger.
We lie. It is a part of our culture. We’ve developed a special ‘liable’ folklore - phrases, everyone uses and no one believes. These lies are used as idioms, camouflaging real messages, we don’t want to admit.
- “It'll be OK! “ (It probably will not, but try to fool yourself and shut up for now).
- “I am 29.” (You know, 29 is like 20 years younger than 30. And I am definitely not 30 … for a long time already.)
- “You will love our product.” (Buy it now, regret it later.)
- “This offer limited to the first 100 callers.” (Buy it now, before you regret it.)
- “All I want is World Peace.” (Selfish careless gold-digger.)
- “You are my second.” (You are at least her third; let’s not go into multi-digit numbers.)
- “One size fits all.” (It is huge.)
- “Open wide, it won’t hurt a bit.” (It will hurt like hell, but you have to open.)
- “It’s not about money, it’s the principle. “ (It is sooo about money.)
- “No, officer… I have no idea how fast I was going. “(I know that you know that I knew, but let’s pretend, I am dumb.)
“Everything I say is the truth”. This is a true statement. At least for me. Because I believe so. I am 29. I’ve practiced this line for years, and finally I believe that I am 29. And all I want is World Peace. I believe so.