Wednesday, December 22

Social Lubrication and Microspurts of Nausea

[Social Lubrication and Microspurts of Nausea]

Lies are social lubrication. If we didn't say, "what an adorable baby" or "I'm comfortable with the organizational changes" or "I'm certain she'll call" someone might not be able to make it through a moment. But [and this is a big but] our reliance upon them and the cultural acceptance of them bothers me.

There's a new Visa promotion where one can win back the cash from all of one's 2004 purchases. There is a commercial for the promotion where a couple is discussing it. The man describes the promotion to the woman and ends with something like "too bad you didn't make too many purchases." We see her thoughts: all the purchases she's made and hidden throughout the year. I think the ad is supposed to be funny. We are supposed to be endeared to her and sympathetic toward him because of these hidden purchases.

The underlying thought though is that in all relationships, there are things that are hidden and that lies are expected.

This isn't unusual. We euphemize. We hedge. We omit. The new dress is passed off as "this old thing." The date is passed of as a "night with the boys." The candy wrappers are thrown out the car window on the way into the driveway. We lie. We act as if this is the way it's supposed to be.

This irks me [even though, admittedly, I've done it myself].

I've spent several years in relationships [love and friendship] where I encountered material untruths. In the beginning, I didn't know I was being lied to. But, eventually, after years of dealing with extreme exaggerators and artful liars, patterns emerged. Now, I generally know when someone's lying to me. It's no great trick, really. I'll hear something and I'll get an odd feeling like a microspurt of nausea and I'll know that something that was said was untrue. I'm pretty accurate. I rarely am fooled by someone who is lying [although, admittedly, I do occasionally think someone is lying when they're just stressed or confused or inattentive — especially when I'm stressed].


Anyway, what's difficult to know is what someone is lying about. And, because it happens all the time, one would drive oneself nuts trying to figure out the truth in every matter. Although my first impulse when something is particularly blatant would be to say "why are you lying to me and what are you lying about?" I've controlled this reaction for the sake of my own sanity. And so, I regularly make justifications [or, if you prefer, lie to myself] about the importance of other people's lies. If it's someone I either don't know well, or don't care about it matters a whole lot less. It becomes a footnote in the character file. Even with those with whom I deal regularly, I tell myself that most of these untruths can be written off as likely exaggerations or lies of convenience and I just go about my day.

Someone tells a story, and although you feel that there's untruth in it, but you might just assume that in this case untruth = exaggeration because this happens with so many stories. We all do it from time to time. You just go about your day.

You get information at work, and you feel that there's untruth in it, but you assume that in this case untruth = lie of convenience. A cover story was seen as necessary because there are things that cannot be disclosed for some personnel, SEC or other legitimate confidentiality concern. You just go about your day.

Sometimes I wish that we could all just — when we feel that microspurt of nausea — point and loudly declare, "I call bullshit!"

But we can't. We can't because sometimes we would be wrong. We can't because this behavior would be considered anti-social. We can't because we're all [at least occasionally] guilty and we'd be calling one another out all the fucking time.