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Lying is a Necessary Social Skill

Updated on April 24, 2011

Lying, in my humble opinion, gets a bad rap.

I mean, we were all told as kids growing up how important it is to tell the truth. Lying, or fibbing, was frowned upon. And if caught in a lie, we were punished.

But "truth" be told, adults have to lie on a regular basis in order to effectively navigate the world, especially the social world.

And it never ceases to amaze me how people, all of whom lie on a regular basis, are quick to point the finger at so-called "liars" and berate them for their prevarications and half-truths.

Lying, in and of itself, is considered, by most people, to be a mortal sin. Liars are not supposed to be trusted; they are two-faced, they are fake, and in some cases, dangerous.

But my feeling is, WE ARE ALL LIARS! Each and every one of us! We lie on a daily basis. How can so many people profess hatred towards liars or the act of lying when, in fact, we are all pinocchios to a degree.

And no area of life is as saturated with dishonesty and lack of truth than is the social realm!

Social situations, ah yes, the stage that Shakespeare talked about; you know, the stage where every person has their entrances and exits; and the stage where every person plays many roles.

Making small talk when you don't feel like it; inquiring about someone's family or job or dog when you don't care; or intentionally changing your behavior in a situation to accomplish some end: to make a good impression, to win someone over, or to increase your likeability.

These, my friends, are deceptions, aka, lies. The fact that these so-called "social lies" are accepted, and, more importantly, expected, does not change the fact that they are lies.

Social lies get dressed up and renamed as being "social etiquette" or "courtesy" or "being nice"; but no matter what you call them, they are lies.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think social lies are necessary. We have to change our behaviors in different situations; we have to "play" the social game in order to navigate and excel in our social world.

If we didn't filter our thoughts, adjust our behaviors, or conform to certain social etiquette in various situations, the world would be chaos.

But my gripe is that most people are hypocritical when it comes to lying. On one hand, they denounce liars and lying, but on the other hand, seem to forget that they themselves lie on a regular basis.

There are lies of omission, when you keep your true feelings and thoughts to yourself.

There are open, bald-faced lies, when you blatantly say something that isn't true.

There are the lies of deception, where you act in a way that you don't really feel, or when you "pretend" to be something or someone you are not.

We are all guilty.

I do realize, however, that there are different types and degrees of lying.

Lying to save someone's life is not the same as lying about why you couldn't attend that party last night. Lying about liking a friends new haircut is not the same as lying about how you don't know who stole the money when, in fact, you have the bills in your pocket.

I get it.

All I'm saying, or venting, or expounding upon, is that lying is not inherently bad, and that lying gets a bad rap, and most importantly of all, that lying is a necessary and vital social skill!


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    • profile image

      Mr Face Saver 4 years ago

      I like twisting words and taking phrases out of context to convince myself I'm right.

    • AnthonyJ33 profile image

      AnthonyJ33 4 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you for responding. I struggle with this topic on a daily basis. I understand what you are saying. But I can't help but think that we as humans have to engage in daily deception in social settings to survive. And deception is a form of lying. I'm not saying I'm right; it's just how it looks to me. But then again, maybe lying in and of itself is not always bad.

    • AnthonyJ33 profile image

      AnthonyJ33 6 years ago from Southern California

      Mr. Happy said:I speak differently to my nephews than I speak to my friends and so on. It doesn't mean I am putting on an act, it's just courteous to act according to the situations surrounding you: respect elders, bump little kids out of the way (jk), etc.

      "to act" IS putting on an act. You just contradicted yourself there Mr. Happy.

      I think it's fair to say that we all lie; nothing unfair about that. Little lies, white lies, take your pick!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I think your definition of a lie is very vague and perhaps because I chose to post one of my nicknames (that of Mr. Happy), I am lying too ...

      I think a lie is when someone takes the truth and presents it as something else. If I chose to abstain from a conversation, I don't think I am lying.

      I speak differently to my nephews than I speak to my friends and so on. It doesn't mean I am putting on an act, it's just courteous to act according to the situations surrounding you: respect elders, bump little kids out of the way (jk), etc.

      I am by no means a liar. If I am posed a question that I do not want to answer (be it personal or what not), I chose to say that I will not answer that question.

      I really think it is quite unfair to call everyone a liar.