Elliot Swan is a freelance web and graphic designer as well as a self-proclaimed photographer who loves ranting about design, standards, and the web in general. But that's not what this site is for. No, he's got another site for that. What's this then? Why, let me introduce you to...

Accidental Procrastination | Things I didn't mean to think about when I should've been working.

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

September 3, 2006

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.

Stuff that other people said:

Now it's your turn.

  • I'm a nice guy, so I'll let you use basic XHTML such as <a>, <strong>, <em>, <blockquote>, and <code>.