Of all the character flaws that people have, lying is by far the most frustrating. At a very young age we all decide that our fiction is way better than the truth. But at what point to people start lying? I think I’ve pinpointed the exact moment through parenting. Kids start lying when they spill their first glass of juice after they have a good grasp on the english language. In other words, at the first moment possible.
Luckily though children only lie about really dumb things. Like things that wouldn’t matter if they lied or not. Of course there’s the “my invisible friend wrote on the walls” or “I don’t know how I got these cookie crumbs on me but I didn’t eat the last cookie”. It doesn’t take Columbo to solve these mysteries but if only thats where we stopped.
My wife is a first-year high school teacher and I’ve been both entertained and enraged by her stories of teens lying. She recently had a parent email her 10 times demanding that her son was in class when she marked him absent because “he said he was there and told me that he was telling the truth and I believe my son”. Yeah, let your teenage son know that you trust him implicitly over any authority figure. That’ll turn out well. My parents barely believed a word I said as a teen but for good reason…..I WAS A TEENAGER! And I was a good one but I still lied.
This makes me think that the “i’m telling the truth, i promise” tactic is the greatest lying tactic in history. Think about listening to George Washington and his “I cannot tell a lie”. No crap you can’t tell a lie. You were caught with a downed cherry tree holding a freaking axe. Busted! So he lets that follow him all the way to the White House(actually I don’t think there was a “White House” at that time but you get what I’m saying). Also, Abraham Lincoln rocked the Honest Abe persona letting people believe “Of course I’m telling the truth….they call me freaking HONEST Abe for God sakes”.
The next step in lying is the realization that from ages 13-14 lying is funny. From those ages, and ONLY in those ages, it’s hilarious for all this exchange to occur:A: Something outrageous to Party B (I.E. “I saw your girlfriend making out with Mr. English Teacher”) B: “Really?” A: “Yeah, Really” while giving a sarcastic smile B: “Are you serious?” A: “Yeah, I’m being totally serious” (giggle giggle) B: “OK, I can’t tell if you’re lying or not. Are you telling me the truth?” Repeat steps 3-5 at least 7 more times A: “Nah, I’m kidding” B: “You’re a dick!”
For the record, if anyone you know does this outside of the amnesty of age 14 they deserve a spot in the 5th level of Hell forever floating down the River Styx. You have a right to tell them that too if you witness this taking place.
At some point though lying becomes less about getting in less trouble and more about being more interesting. Everyone does their own version of the “I caught a fish T-H-I-S big” trying to make their lives more interesting that others. Everyone except for me that is. This is a thing of blunt truth. Oh, did I mention that they call me Honest Josh. Much more catchy than Honest Abe.