Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
July 23, 2020
“Lying is an elementary means of self-defense.” (Susan Sontag)
Up until the sixth grade, I was a nerd, a momma’s boy, and the smartest kid in my class. In a flash, I hit puberty and was off and running with the wrong crowd. This led to my parents paying much closer attention to my behavior. When a rash of false fire alarms hit our neighborhood, my mother came up with a dubious scheme to make sure I wasn’t participating. The idea was to prevent me from pulling the easily accessible fire alarms that once appeared on every other corner. (Some of them are still around. See my photo above.)
“If you pull the fire alarm,” Mom warned, “you get blue dye on your hand. This way, the firemen can find out who did it.”
When I said I’d just wash it off, she embellished: “It only comes off with a special soap from the Fire Department.”
I participated in plenty of questionable activities in my misspent youth but notably, I never, ever pulled a fire alarm. If I had, of course, I would’ve instantly discovered that my beloved mother had lied to me.
Then again, my father was a federal agent… and isn’t the entire premise of undercover work contingent upon bearing false witness?
And I have an uncle who tried to convince my sister and me that a man named “Cranak” lived under our floorboards. “If you make too much noise or run and jump in the apartment,” our uncle told us, “Cranak will open a little door in the floor and come after you.”
Yet another untruth.
Of course, I went on to become a writer. Among my published works are three novels. And what is fiction writing, if not fanciful fakery? I mean, we literally invent people, places, and things -- and get (under)paid for it.
Before you wonder if there’s something awful in my family’s DNA, please allow me to introduce some veracity into this discourse on falsehood: You lie all the time, too. We all do.
“It’s not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true.” (Henry Kissinger)
We fudge our tax returns and enhance our resumes.
We use different identities online. Lots of different identities.
What about all those fictive dating profiles? And is there anyone out there whose life synchs up with their carefully curated social media personas?
Actors, filmmakers, lawyers, and poker players -- among countless others -- can each speak volumes about the lucrative properties of deception.
Doctors pretend all the time to either know or not know what’s wrong with their patients.
Sexual roleplaying is just a kinky form of prevarication.
I didn’t get your text.
The check is in the mail (or been Venmo’d).
I didn’t realize I was going over the speed limit.
Your table will be ready in five minutes.
I don’t kiss on the first date.
I used to bench press (insert big number here) in college.
Your baby/spouse/dog is gorgeous.
Okay, I’ve just have one drink.
I never got that jury duty notice.
You shouldn’t have! (before opening gift)
I love it! (after opening gift)
Don’t blame me, I was hacked!!!
We are all habitual liars.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
We swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Then we cross our fingers and let the disinformation flow.
Super-obvious example: Politicians (especially during election campaigns).
Less obvious: Anyone who plays a sport on any level. What is “fake left and go right” if not a premeditated fabrication?
We read messages and then mark them unread.
We let phone calls go to voicemail, misrepresenting that we’re “too busy” to pick up.
We never, ever say “yes” when asked: “Does this make me look fat?”
Here’s a BIG one: Till Death Do We Part.
And then there was that time when your mother-in-law asked you to critique her experimental poetry in front of a room full of people. Could you really justify honesty as the best policy at that instant? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Most of all: We lie to ourselves.
Does all this mendacity make us bad people?
Nakana Ide -- co-author of a book called The Art of Lying -- believes that “people who can tell lies well often have deeper and more interesting lives.”
The Art of Lying came out 20 years ago.
Today, well… Welcome to 2020, Nakana.
Lies, white lies, lies of omission, exaggerations, broken promises, gaslighting, evasion, deflection, denial, plagiarism, frauds, fakes, and fibs -- we are wallowing in a cesspool of deceit.
Human beings are collectively engaging in more lies than ever before. But is anyone out there enjoying a “deeper and more interesting life” because of it? Don’t perjure yourself by saying yes.
You may be wondering: What’s the point of this article, Mickey Z.?
Well, I’d be lying if I told you I knew…
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!