Saturday 21 July 2012

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies...

"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. 


Anonymous said...

Squeeze a few lemons and use the raw juice to wash out the fridge then leave it to run.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, I wondered how witnesses could ever be reasonably expected to tell "the whole truth." Like, how many centuries do you really want this trial to last?
Later, I learned that "whole" derived from "hale," which means something more like "healthy." (Just in case you're looking for another blog topic.)
I don't suppose using vinegar to wipe down your refrigerator will ever generate as dramatic a conclusion to a blog post as this one was, but it might give you a bit more peace of mind.

Zoë said...

Reading this depressed me.

It made me think what is the point. There is no hope. I am what I am, and I know no one likes me. They pretend (lie) that they do, but I know different, I don't even like myself.

It made me think I shouldn't believe anyone or anything they say, because their motives aren't honest, and I don't trust my own judgement to tell the difference between what's truth, and what's a 'well intended' lie.

The thing is, I don't want to be lied to, I want people to be honest and straight forward. Even if what they say is hurtful, I'd rather deal with that,and come to terms with it, than to think I meant something to them, and then have them treat me differently, because really they can't stand me, but haven't the courage to tell me so.

Lieing to me like that is even more hurtful, it just drags on the pain it causes.

Just saying


Exmoorjane said...

@Jobo - thanks, mate. Good call. Raw juice? As opposed to cooked. :)

@Anne - really? Interesting. And yup, vinegar another far hale option.

@Zoe - well, Byron Katie would ask how you know no one likes you.
Bottom line, we never know what other people really think. I don't even know what I think most of the time. It's why I try not to think too much about anything now. :)
Re people liking or not liking... I figure if people carry on hanging around with me they either
a) like me (weirdos)
b) want something from me (deluded weirdos)

And that's it really.

Anonymous said...

Not bottled stuff. I used to use it when customers had a broken down fish fridge that hadn't been seen to for a week or so. Also, cut a lemon up and leave it on a plate in the frige will deodorise

Anonymous said...

frige = fridge lol

Jay said...

Some of us adopt an "unreasonable" on-line persona precisely to engage in conflict. Not in the trolling sense, but in the "I'm really angry at the world and you can all go hang" sense. It's purposefully designed to attract a particular audience and to repel another segment of society.

I don't censor myself because I'm worried that people won't like me -- because honestly, I cannot control how people feel or what may offend them. I censor myself because I worry about being sued for defamation, so I have to balance what I think someone truly meant by their words or actions with the actual facts. It is awkward.

On the other hand, I never blog about my personal life and I'm careful to avoid divulging any identifying information about myself (and no, you are not allowed to blackmail me, madam). My personal life is irrelevant to the content of my blog and I suspect people would be surprised anyway.

So really, deciding what and how to write it is all about the audience you want. If you want the stay-at-home mums who are more interested in your private life's details, you cater to that. If you want the career-oriented businesswoman (single or attached) you cater to those who want to know how you manage your career. If you want both of those, you adjust accordingly.

I'm not sure that any of this requires lying. It may require certain omissions, and I concede that some feel an omission is akin to a lie. But really, all you are doing is giving your audience a product it wants to read.


Anne Wareham said...

It isn't easy, is it? So what we say has to be weighed up every time we speak - on the web, anyway, if maybe not at home or in bed.

I am stuck with this one: how do I find it possible to say things in writing which I fluff when dealing face to face with someone? I kick my husband for his forthright face to face talk, but I am equally forthright in print.

That's bad, I think, but I cannot find a way out for myself as I am dedicated to a certain kind of plain speaking where there was none before...

Anonymous said...

I love Anonymouse.

(Please prove you're not a robot: ngdiale 22)

Jackie Buxton said...

Nice post as ever, Jane! But I don't think you need to beat yourself up unduly. We have to teach our children that the truth is more complicated than simply saying what is 'right' if we don't want to be surrounded by people weeping and wailing. Like you said, the reason you wouldn't shout out that the woman is fat is because you wouldn't want to ruin her day and what earthly good could be taken from that? I think it's quite simple: lies for own gain? Bad. Lies to avoid other people's upset: ok in moderation.
I wonder if you're more honest in your posts than you realise. This one was truthful, wasn't it? Or am I just blissfully naive??

Anonymous said...

YThe whole shooting match is just one big lie

The creator is eternally lying when it creates things to keep it busy and off the fact that it's alone and sets a default of non-remembrance to keep stuff fresh and the gang it creates unsuspicious that they are not seperate but just little wedges of the same pie....fkn hilarious....

Dump Him Love said...

I stopped thinking everyone would like me years ago. I don't like everyone so it would seem unreasonable to feel everyone woulld like me. The truth well as you said everyone has there own truth? I try to share what I'm thinking and feeling when appropriate and especially with the people I care about but outside of that? Btw suggesting to children they don't need to say everything that pops into their heads isn't lying imo but there you go!

Anonymous said...

Pie pie, Hollywood Hills for ever...

Mary Vensel White said...

I sometimes think one of the more important things you can learn as you get older is when to keep your mouth shut. Maybe it's why the cliche image of a sage is someone with little to say. In general, people talk too much--only my opinion :). For me, truth is often amorphous and subjective. If you say something enough does that make it a truth? Sometimes you can experience the same event with someone and have two different truths about what occurred. Just write your truth, however you see it that day. It's all you can do.

the veg artist said...

I agree with Mary about the importance of keeping the mouth shut. The problem with words is that once spoken, or written, they cannot be undone, whether they were true or not. Now a person might have been having a bad moment/day/year, or even been drunk, but the thing is, my hearing was sane and sober. I can only know for sure what I heard/read, whether it was wisely said or not.

Margaret Grant said...

My life has been utterly (irrevocably?) changed/wrecked by being lied to. It's the very worst thing. I have gotten flack for being too honest, but after being lied to by those I trusted, I'll take my honesty over their mendacity. I am only interested in the REAL. I promise I can take it but I can't take lies.