"You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other."
- John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson [November 13, 1815]
‘I love your blog because you’re so honest,’ someone said to me. And I frowned inwardly and shook my mind. Cos I ain’t honest; not remotely. And that is why I often stop blogging altogether, cos really I do wonder sometimes…what is the point?
Someone (a different someone) yesterday asked why I blog. Specifically she asked why I don’t put ads on my blog; why I don’t make money from it. And I said that partly it’s cos I haven’t got the nous or dosh to get the blog set up in a commercial way but mainly it’s cos I don’t want to have to tow any particular line. ‘I write to please myself,’ I said (wincing a bit as it sounded so bloody lofty). ‘I write a blog cos it’s the only place where I don’t have to answer to editors; where I can say what I please. Where I can be myself.’
But really that was a wopping fat lie cos I don’t and I’m not. The gap between what I think and feel and what I write is a yawning chasm. I censor myself all the time; I don’t speak the words unspoken. About anything. Why?
Well, partly because I don’t want to be hurtful, I suppose. Of course Byron Katie would say that’s bunkum; that I can’t possibly know what will or won’t hurt people and, anyhow, it’s not my business. But, I dunno – why take the chance? And our society is built on everyone lying all the time.
We’re taught as small children that we should always tell the truth. But then, quite early actually, we’re also taught that we should lie. That sometimes lying is bad, very bad – and sometimes it’s good, kind, smart, sensible, the right thing to do. How bloody confusing, eh? No wonder children end up wanting to blast the hell out of zombies on-line.
Take my sister and I ducking beneath a rail at Marks & Spencer when my nephew – about three or so – shouted out in that clarion clear voice of a toddler: ‘Mummy, why is that lady SOOOO fat?’ And the look of intense puzzlement on his face as my sister explained to him (okay, hissed at him from under the anoraks) that it wasn’t ‘nice’ to say that. ‘But she IS fat, Mummy,’ he said. And she was. ‘And you said I should always tell the truth.’ And she had. Btw, I've told you that story before so it must be true, right?
So, sometimes we don’t tell the truth because we want to be nice. Often we don't tell the truth because it would be personal or professional suicide. But more often we avoid the truth because we want people to like us.
We don’t want to show the world just what petty, nasty, greedy, jealous, mean-spirited, vapid, shallow, cruel, lazy, stupid people we can be. We like to present a good persona.
It's sensible. A reasonable persona is a useful tool if you want to navigate the social tides in a calm and pleasant manner – if you want to avoid conflict and lead an easy life. Nobody likes a trouble-maker; nobody likes the awkward sod. Well, a few people do like Nobody, but hey, in general, en masse, people don’t want the truth – they want the sweet little lies.
Not just emotional stuff – all truth. Years back, I caused a furore at a job because someone asked me my salary and I told him. My boss was incandescent with rage. In fact everyone was incandescent with rage – with a few exceptions (who were obviously earning more than I).
But, more pertinently, we don't tell the truth because we want to pretend we like ourselves - we don’t want the fat lady to turn round, look hurt and make us feel bad. We lie to ourselves even more than we do to others. And writing it down can make it real in a way that just thinking it never does. Sometimes I write things and just wince at how revolting they make me feel. And I think, shit, if I ever published that, nobody would ever talk to me ever again. And, hey, sometimes that is almost tempting. Which probably makes me some kind of masochist - or, as Adrian keeps saying, an odd-ball wannabe hermit.
So we lie. We all lie. Sometimes overtly, sometimes by omission. We dodge the truth with one another and with ourselves. But then again, what is the truth? When I ask myself that, I flounder again. Because the truth shifts and changes, depending on who’s looking at it and when you’re looking at it and which way up you're regarding it. Doesn’t it? The truth can be another lie.
And where does that leave us? I’m telling lies; you’re reading my lies and then maybe you leave a comment which probably lies. Or, at least, doesn’t say what you really think. And we all lie to each other, all the time. And so, really, you gotta laugh, huh?
Btw, I just cleaned the fridge with what turned out to be toilet cleaner. I just saw the words ‘mould’ and ‘mildew’ on the bottle and merrily sprayed until the stench of bleach made me feel a little sick. I presume this wasn’t a good idea and I should probably chuck away the food that was in it?
Yeah, I’m telling the truth there. Honest.