The Cost of Honesty (Or, “Why I Never Lie and Why the Truth is Overrated”)

Lately I’ve come to realize that in our society, the worst possible thing that I can do for myself is tell somebody what I really think. Most of us understand this. We’re masters of creative distortion, persuasive evasion, and selective truthfulness. But we never lie–no, we’d never steep as low as that–we’re just not honest.

See, lies are way too fragile. It takes a George Costanza to really pull those off. Hell, even Clinton had trouble eventually. However, with selective truthfulness, even amateurs can fool the polygraph. It’s simple: We tell the truth but leave out the parts we’d like to live without.

I’m sure you already know how to do it. Without this technique, most of us would be dead by now.

For example, say somebody shows you some of their artwork:

“So, what do you think?”

What is it? Looks like a train wreck. “Very interesting…Really makes the mind wonder.”

Told absolute truth. How they interpret this truth is completely up to them. As Costanza himself would say, “Jerry, just remember: It’s not a lie… if you believe it.” That’s why this works so well. You get out of trouble, don’t have to lie (guilt free!), and even better…it’s so easy.

Picture the scene. Somebody important invites you over for dinner; this is your big chance.

“So, did you like the dinner?”

Holy crap…I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep this down for the next hour. Or if I do, I’m definitely going to die.
“I’ve never had anything like it! That meat was really interesting.”
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as blue pork…

Tricks like these can save lives. Not just vague, other-side-of-the-world, somebody else “lives,” either…we’re talking yours and mine.

“Does this make me look fat?”

Hey, it’s not the clothes’ fault. “No, nothing makes you look fat.”

But in order to use this technique, there is a certain pride issue that one has to get over. Namely, one needs to convince him or herself that their personal thoughts and opinions 1) aren’t worth telling and 2) aren’t funny.

But this I just cannot do. They’re good, and I don’t aim to waste them. Which is also why I don’t have a girlfriend yet two moderately successful blogs.

17 thoughts on “The Cost of Honesty (Or, “Why I Never Lie and Why the Truth is Overrated”)”

  1. Very interesting look on why telling the truth and not telling the truth are big No-Nos. I never realized it till now, but I use this method all the time.

  2. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head, I think! I mean…what DO you say when your little 4 year old brother asks your opinion on his cat picture when it looks like a squashed cabbage? “Wow, that’s the best interpretation of a cat I’ve ever seen!”
    Usually I settle for the standard “Cool.” Usually pleases ’em.

  3. Too true, too true. It is a defense mechanism (for lack of better discription), that works moderately well, untill you get to the point that you just can’t find a single thing going for something, so you just break down, and start screaming and twitching, yelling things like, “No your speech wasn’t entertaining, it wasn’t even mildly thought provoking. I slept through half of it, and picked up where we were when I woke up, and didn’t feel like I missed anything.” Or, “Basically, you just fail at life.” Good times.

  4. @Mike: And now every time you do, you’ll think of this article. Talk about good advertising.
    @Anne: What do I say? Don’t ask.
    @Brianna: As long as it’s not some speech of mine.

  5. Oh, your speeches wouldn’t suck. If someday one did (which I’m not saying would ever happen, cuz your speeches are always insightful and brilliant 😉 ), I’m not sure what I’d say. I would probably just tell you what I thought. Then I would send someone else over to say something nice. Sometimes critizism is good, but I don’t like to be too mean. I don’t think that that is neccessarily a bad thing…

  6. @Brianna: Yeah, sure, whatever.

    @Kala: It’s only cheating if it’s against the specified rules, and if the rules should even be there in the first place. Trust me on this one. (See a hint of that Bond philosophy coming through?)

    @Nope, don’t have one: How is it that I always know who you are whether you give your name or not?

  7. His Bond-ness. Personally, I think it was a fluke.

    I got Bond, and it’s obvious why… “suave, sophisticated super spy with charm, cunning, and a license’s to kill…usually armed with a clever gadget and an appropriate one-liner” Yeah. That’s me.

    But Elliot… I’m not sure how that happened….

  8. Ya know, I’m not sure there’s a nice way to answer that. So, I think I’ll just outright lie by saying that you’ve finally won me over through your charming, suave, sophisticated-ness. And wow, those clever gadgets you’ve always got handy are pretty nifty. And that pick-up line you used the other day, was, shall we say, quite cunningly witty.

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