Why we lie

By Zue Lopez Diaz

It is ideal to be ‘honest’. Whether it is part of someone’s religion or simply out of a personal moral code, many strive to lie as little as possible. At least I, no matter what the circumstance, try not to lie unless absolutely necessary. Yet the circumstance of lying for someone else, and not for yourself, can rapidly change the way we think on the subject. Many of us might more easily be persuaded to keep another’s secret than our own.

After analyzing a specific, small and trivial time in my life when I happened to lie for the sake of someone else, I have realized that not only do I have a specific set of circumstances in lying for others than when I do when I only keep a secret for myself, I distinctly keep another’s secret because of empathy, lack of knowledge, and social constructs imposed on us by society.

Some time ago I spent the night at my anonymous friend’s house, L. It was an out of the blue decision, and therefore I had to use her clothes the next day. When asked about it by other two friends, M and S, I was about to explain to them that I had stayed over L’s house unexpectedly and had needed to borrow clothes, but I saw her shake her head behind their shoulders.

This was an isolated event, as I had never seen L want to keep something from them before, so I stopped in my tracks and simply said it was a new shirt, the entire time not understanding why she would ask me to do such a thing. However, I didn’t ask questions. To this day I don’t know why I couldn’t tell them I had slept over her house.

It is obvious to me that I lie more easily for others than I do for myself. We could attribute much of this because of empathy, which comes as a side effect of loyalty to someone. In many ways, those you are loyal to and that you care about are an extension of yourself, yet independent enough that you assume there is a reason behind what they are doing. This empathy brings an assumption of reason and rationality to your lie. USE THE BLEVENS LECTURE TO SUPPORT THESE CONCLUSIONS.

This happens because when it is another’s secret, there is an innate lack of information on the subject, and it is easy to assume that if you had all the information you would do the same. A human error, in many ways, this assumption is that you don’t know what else they’re holding back that might be impactful in some way, and leads to an easier route to lying.

Those are reasons why we might keep the secret for others in the long-run, yet in the short-run I find there to be a much simpler explanation for why I went along with the lie. In the heat of the moment, my immediate reaction was not to say anything and I attribute the quick reaction to the simple socially created construction of the idea that being a ‘snitch’ is inherently bad, an idea that is hard to dispel once it is so insistently placed before you.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: