Bill Clinton has one. Richard Nixon has one. And yes, even Pinocchio has one: the notorious, wondrous lie. Many times the salvation for one and the downfall for the next, lying has crept its way into the six billion (and counting!) inhabitants of our planet. From biblical accounts of deception to celebrity tabloids screaming of scandals, lying surely affects daily life. While everyone lies one time or another, few recognize the stark types of lying and its influence and prevalence in individuals’ lives. So sit back, relax, and dive into defamation, fabrication, vilification, and prevarication; the supposedly evil act actually improves concentration, lifts depression, and cures mild forms of schizophrenia. (I lied).
The Bulletproof Vest Lie
When the grueling demands of daily life seem to shoot from every angle of life, one cannot help but to draw the Bulletproof Vest lie for a little bit of protection. This mild lie protects the accused from the lethal shots of over-expectation. Using small phrases in statements such as “I think,” “possibly,” or “maybe,” this lie comes especially handy when superiors question inferiors, in which the inferior attempts to reduce the impact of the lie. Just the other day, one of my instructors asked me if I had deleted an important file. Instead of responding with a blatant “Yes, I deleted,” I cleverly replied with a simple, “I think I accidentally deleted it.” When a fellow student demanded my grade in a particular music class, I zipped up my bulletproof vest and quickly retorted with an “I don’t know my grade,” response. Heaving a dramatic sigh, the accuser backed away, realizing its prey felt too aloof to care, (though definitely not the case).
This bulletproof vest lie acts as almost a facade, yet quite harmless, by offering breathing room and some slack, for, respectably, a lie which keeps the liar from going completely bonkers from stressful requests over presumed accidents, mistakes, or unexpected curve balls in life.
The Dump Lie
No one enjoys lugging around the suitcases of emotional baggage, so when family members, friends and acquaintances “dump” their problems on (usually vulnerable, empathetic) subjects, the mental mass weighs the dumped person down. For example, my dad relayed some ¬¬¬-family-related confessions via telephone, and ended the brain-draining conversation with another kicker, “Now don’t tell your sister or your mom I said that.”
“Okay, I will not,” I promised, or well, lied, earnestly.
By relieving the extra secrets thrown on one’s shoulders, the lie scrapes off sticking burdens unnecessarily plastered by others. While everyone loves to act like the good friend or relative, one can only take on so much, because, sometimes, when “We all need somebody to lean on,” we ¬may need to pack up some independence.
The Bench-press Lie
In the late hours after school, a high school gym cradles a wrestling room, and inside it holds a lone weight lifter, constantly adding and adding weight until he lifts incredible amounts of weight dramatically. Scrawny underclassmen peer nervously through the small panes. The Ego Bench-press liar works in the same way of the weight lifter. He or she adds and adds robust, bragging phrases relating to the liar, and projects them to naive onlookers. This gives the liar a sense of expanding pride and extreme accomplishment, building up an ego, like each heavy pound on a bar.
Author James Frey created a national phenomenon releasing his supposed memoir, A Million Little Pieces. Selling over three and a half million copies and landing a secure spot on the New York Times best selling nonfiction paperbacks, Pieces proved a success for Frey. Conspiracy enflamed, however, and large portions of the memoir had investigators debunking every piece of the novel. Though gaining cash and fame and an ego boost, the lies shattered his career. Like weights being stripped off a weight bar, the unveiling of the author’s lies, left him with a light and weak bar to raise (1).
Lastly, one of the biggest lies in history lies at the bottom of the ocean. The “unsinkable” ship the Titanic set sail with an ego, and sank with shame. Hundreds of innocent passenger boarded the floating lie, to meet a horrific fate. The ego built reputation of the ship stamped newspapers soon after the ship’s sinking in tragedy.
The “Yes, of course there is a Santa Claus” Lie
By the time one finally realizes the fibs of the Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus, either the pangs of adolescence or doldrums of adulthood have set in. When a beady eyed toddler gazes into one’s eyes for some reassurance, the old Saint Nick validity keeps the kids happy and sparks a little bit of long gone childhood back into the nonbeliever. Do not forget the times when the terrible two tantrums reign, that a little incentive untruth saves a migraine. “If you don’t start behaving, then the Easter Bunny won’t hide those eggs you painted.”
The SOS Lie
Unlike the Bulletproof vest lie, the SOS lie saves an individual from those particularly sticky situations, save only for desperate times. When taboo subjects cover the dinner table such as politics and religion, the SOS lie prevails; when the flaming conservative cousins and loose liberal long distant pals face each other on opposite ends, it might just seem appropriate to state one’s Ralph Nader ballot choice for the upcoming election.
When my guitar teacher asked if I had been practicing, I tried as convincingly as possible to reply positively, to save my soul from guitar preaching hell.
Lastly, who could not forget past President Bill Clinton’s, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” escapade? Saving himself from impeachment, Mr. Clinton pulled an SOS lie in the nick of time, finishing off his time-testing term.
So, the next time a lie christens a conversation, evaluate the possible choices, “Bulletproof Vest,” “Dump,” “Bench-press,” or “Santa Claus,” or “SOS.” They all offer small nuggets of irresistible untruths. Stay cautionary, however, because little pebbles create ripples.
“A Million Little Lies.” The Smoking Gun: Documents. 2010. 13 December 2010.