|Posted on February 18, 2015 at 4:30 AM|
Lies are frowned upon, condemned and generally considered as immoral. However, as a population we tell billions of lies every day. So is lying really that bad?
It may seem obvious, but unfortunately lying is a lot more complex than you might think. If lying is so wrong, then why does it occur so often? Perhaps it is because we believe we can get away with it, or sometimes it is sweeter than the truth. White lies are the most commonly told, often said with the intent of sparing someone the truth they don't want to hear. This is where the morality of lying is most distorted. For example, a family pet dies, but the parents tell their young child the pet has gone on holiday. When the child grows up and realises the truth, he won't venture on some kind of murderous vendetta against his parents for lying to him, it was a white lie, and at the time was probably better than the truth, which would make any five year old upset. In a way it was harmless - but does that make it acceptable?
In reality, a lie is still a lie. The base of this argument is that even if a lie is told with a good intention, the victim of the lie may not feel the same way. You are still misleading someone by lying to them. Then you must ask yourself, was the lie really told to spare someone's feelings or was it told to spare you the guilt of their reaction? Sometimes we can lie to ourselves, so that we come to believe we have good intentions, when in reality we are trying to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
This brings us to the issue of lying for personal gain. Perhaps this is why liars have such an ominous reputation. Many lies are told with the sole purpose of getting out of trouble, trying to deceive others and manipulate opinions in order to defend themselves. These sometimes can still be considered white lies, if little harm is being done to others. However, it could also be a black lie; if the liar getting out of trouble results in someone innocent being accused and punished. A ‘Black lie’ is when the purpose is to get out of trouble and there is no intent to help someone else. They can be a spiteful way to deliberately harm others.
Everyone lies occasionally, whether intentionally or by accident. However, society shows us that lying often, even just white lies, can ruin a person’s reputation. This is best said by Friedrich Nietzsche: “I am not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” In other words, a person who is renowned for lying, will eventually be questioned when telling the truth. This is famously illustrated in the tale, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
But is there an underlying reason to result in a person lying consistently? Well, there is no recognised disorder related to lying. However some people are often referred to as compulsive liars, people who lie out of habit and are often more comfortable lying than telling the truth. As a result, they will lie constantly, but often for no personal gain or to help others (the cause of ‘normal’ lies). They simply prefer lying than telling the truth and will lie in everyday life for no apparent reason. Therefore, in the eyes of everyone else compulsive lies will often seem pointless.
There are also pathological liars, who are occasionally linked with compulsive liars. Pathological liars intentionally use black lies in order to manipulate people or for their own personal use and they are very difficult to detect. Although again, this is not a classified disorder, pathological liars can be related to sociopaths, which means they feel no guilt about the lies they create or empathy for the targets and can sometimes have criminal intents.
Although these are extreme cases, lying is a popular topic today. People will never stop lying, but how they lie can change. The problem is that your own initiative must come into making the decision whether a lie is necessary or not. The lie is a power that must not be taken lightly. But think, is the truth really better than the lie?
Is a man really as good as his word?
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