(and that’s probably fine)
We tell white lies everyday. Work is always good, unis going alright and your partner totally thinks you’re the best they’ve ever had!
Lies save face, avoid hurting the feelings of others, and act as a social lubricant, among other uses. Fibbing is an everyday language for a lot of people and honestly, we think it’s fine.
While deception costs businesses millions of dollars, a study from the University of Virginia found that both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes. Psychologist Bella DePaulo has called lying a ‘condition of life’.
Women are more likely to tell altruistic lies to avoid hurting other people’s feelings, while men are more likely to lie about themselves. And where do we see a prevalence of lies? At work, or more specifically, to get out of work. Be honest, how many sickies have you pulled this month alone? It’s ok we won’t judge.
Is lying at work a culture? Obviously, but the same rings true outside of work too. Ads distort reality, social media is fake and your favourite politician almost certainly isn’t being honest with you.
This year’s election has brought with it a lot of dialogue. National has bombarded us with talk of high crime rates, while Chlöe Swarbrick has pushed back, noting NZ is “the 3rd safest country in the OECD”. We’ve heard loud outcry about the ‘productive’ use of te reo Māori despite having the highest number of fluent speakers since the 1900s. We’ve been proposed to by the Greens, enticing us with offers of rent control; a move many experts have described as counterproductive.
You don’t have to look back far to remember Labour’s xenophobic response to the housing crisis in 2017. Running on a platform to ban vast numbers of immigrants buying homes; this was a position unsupported by evidence and stemming from the longstanding Kiwi tradition of blaming all our problems on immigration.
Shitty policies have real consequences, but it’s not the lies that cause the policy–it’s the unwillingness to investigate the lies that sound good to us. We do the same thing during bad relationships and shitty jobs; we lie to make ourselves feel better.
If we’re honest, every date we go on, every job we accept and even the causes we support; they all start with a little lie. Nobody shows their red flags on a first date, work drinks will probably be more awkward than fun, and does anyone actually know what an ‘excess profit’ is?
But it’s these lies that pique our interest and motivate us to dig deeper—at least they should. It doesn’t really matter if they weren’t the whole truth, because they were never supposed to be. Your partner is probably lovely, we bet your job has value outside of drinks, and NZ supermarkets really are making huge profits.
Danger arises when we forget that lies can come from anyone, anywhere. We often forget it, but we are not immune to propaganda 😺. No matter where you are, or what side you sit on, we’re all just making shit up. And to be honest, that’s probably fine.
No matter how insufferable the other side of the aisle is, never forget you’re just as likely to hear bullshit from your own side; and that’s ok if it means starting a conversation. Nobody likes being wrong, least of all us; and as obvious as that sounds, every election cycle we all conveniently forget.
Be open to bullshit, be open to debate, even try being open to pushback.
You’ll often find truth in a lie. Put your Sherlock hat on and read between the lines.
Mairātea & George