Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

© David Evison / Fotolia

© David Evison / Fotolia

I’ve clocked 34 sweet little lies since Halloween. How’s your bullshit tally?

The face masks I saw at Halloween reminded me of the masks we sometimes put on our words to conceal the truth. After the trick or treaters had finally left, I wondered how many lies I would tell in the following weeks, so I kept a bullshit e-diary.

All sorts of lies

It shows I lied to others about a range of stuff, like downplaying how I really felt about an allergic reaction to a face cream, and what I was doing online late one night.

I also told a tangoed acquaintance that her orange-y tan wasn’t too bad, adding that she’d stand out during Spring Carnival.

My diary also revealed I told the worst kind of lies: lies to myself. And I told a few of those. For starters, in the 18 days following Halloween I had way more coffee and alcohol, and far less water, than I cared to admit to myself and the naturopath. Ditto for chocolate.

I also lied to myself and then my best friend about a night time online shopping spree. I convinced myself I was buying summer must-haves, instead, it was stuff that I’m sure one day will find its way to Vinnies.

At least I finally acknowledged I had an antonym friend in my life: someone who’s the total opposite of a true friend. He makes regular promises but rarely keeps his word.

Liar, liar pants on fire

My lies, well, the ones I’ll admit here, generally made me sound happier, healthier and in sync with those I’d bullshitted. More importantly, they protected my feelings and those of others.

The truth is, we are all liars.

Psychologists say we lie everyday. US social scientist Bella DePaulo says that we are likely to lie several times a day, or in one out of every four conversations that lasts more than 10 minutes.

And, no surprises here, there’s a sliding scale of lies. Psychologists appear to distinguish between minor lies and serious lies, or what I now call sweet little lies and whopper lies.

It’s the difference between telling a friend his or her haircut is great, when you don’t like it and, at the other end of the scale, hiding something super bad. Both extremes of lies mislead and deceive, it’s just a question of scale.

DePaulo says serious lies are far less frequent and the most common ones are about affairs and money. Say what? Maybe I’ve been OD’ing on news, but I reckon the most common whopper lies involve grand manipulation and exploitation of another person or group.

A world free of lies

Unless you’re a pathological liar or someone who tells whopper lies, I’m sure you would prefer a world free of lies? Then again, if we suddenly became pathological truth tellers, I wonder how humanity would survive the change surrounded by truth. No doubt there would be a mass unfriending everywhere when we learn what others really think of us and vice versa.

So, before I go, I want to tell you the truth. I can’t be sure of how many lies I’ve actually told since Halloween as I lied to myself during the experiment. But you already knew my tally was a lie, just like yours.

  • Do you think the world would be better if we only told the truth?



  1. […] of the truths about lying is that it often lands positive results for liars. As we all lie, from time to time, our motivation to manipulate the truth can only be because we get something out […]

  2. I saw a segment on the 9 News ‘Chat Room’ segment one afternoon that talked about the phrase ‘white lie’ – and how the mere existence of such a phrase is proof that we all try to make ourselves feel better about lying! I agree with you Gobsmackingstuff – all lies mislead and deceive, whether they’re of the ‘sweet little’ or ‘whopper’ variety!

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