We do it all the time. Little white lies, half truths to protect peoples feelings.
“oh yes, your hair looks fantastic – I love how they have teased it at the back.”
“oh sorry I can’t make it, I err, have an urgent appointment to have my left eye brow weaved.”
“Oh I would have loved to come to your talk on why my child is being harmed emotionally by the disney channel, but little Fanny has her Grandparents coming over to hear her perform Beethoven’s Piano concerto number 5.”
(Actually the wiggles are racing to the rainbow so I’m going to have an hour spare to clean the loo and have a cup of tea in peace.)
Little lies can save peoples feeling being hurt. On the whole they are harmless, when used with care, and when they are not over used.
As my favourite psychologist Nigel Latta points out in his book Politically Incorrect Parenting…
“children have to learn the subtleties of lying so that they can peacefully co exsist with others. If we couldn’t lie the world would be a disturbing, dysfunctional, dangerous place. Very few relationships could withstand the test of complete honesty. Consider for example that old chestnut: ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ How long would the fabric of civilization last if we had to answer that question honestly?” (2010, page 220).
But what happens when half truths replace the truth? What happens when the made up stuff starts taking over the real life stuff? Over the last few months of dipping in and out of various websites and forums, I’ve started to tune in to that inner voice that says
“yeah, is that really true?”.
“Of course you’re tweets aren’t boring, I love hearing how you just clipped your toe nails.”
But the thing with the internet is that for some, it becomes a place where they can make their fantasy world real. They have access to thousands of people who don’t know them, who don’t know their real history and their real life situation. So the lies can grow, they can multiply, and they can spread. What starts out as a small insignificant comment about some thing that didn’t actually happen, can suddenly have a whole back story, with people who don’t really exist.
So when someone makes stuff up, it can be on a much grander scale, which means there is a much greater chance that someone will feel duped, and a bit pissed off if they do discover the truth.
On the whole, little lies, when revealed, might only cause a bit of hurt or even some amusement, and are soon forgotten.
Yes dear, I’m sure Robbie Williams personally invited you to his birthday party in 1999. That’s why he answers the 53 tweets you send him each day reminding him of the time he invited you to his birthay party. *rolls eyes*
I recently started following Topgear hosts, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond on twitter. Then I promptly unfollowed when BBC confirmed they were not the real deal. (Which makes sense as I’m sure I read in one of Clarkson’s books that if it’s not a car – he struggles use it. He’s probably still learning to use his toaster, let alone a computer!)
I’m not deeply upset from the person making stuff up… though perhaps they have a little too much time on their hands? And of course theres that edge of embarrassment at having been duped!
Then there are lies that can harm us financially.
Sure Mr Nigerian Scam man, I’ll give you my visa number and then I’ll bank your cheque into my account and send you thousands of dollars. not.
However there are the times when people make things up that harm us emotionally. They leave us a bit confused, then shocked, then bloody angry or deeply saddened or just plain old FECKED OFF.
I discovered an example of this on Westlifetards… the (most fabulously mysterious) creator Brandy has researched a woman called Christina Vinter. You can go and see her story here.
But only if you are brave enough. This woman is probably as crazy as someone can get,
and I literally felt sick reading how she has logged into parenting forums and memorial sites, posting stories and pictures of angel babies, that are not hers.
Brandy has done her research well, and determined that these stories are made up. She is duping parents who have truely lost babies, who are offering her support and listening to her stories, which are all fake.
Knowing a few parents who have lost their little babies, it is heartbreaking to think that someone is taking advantage of their grief, their emotion, in their own twisted make believe games.
So we get to the big question… why?
Why would someone do this?
I have to believe that these people are in some way very very insecure, with such low self esteem that they rely on the attention of others to make them feel normal.
Perhaps they are enticed by the ‘drama’ of some situations. Pretending to know a celebrity or pretending they too have had a miscarriage or that someone related to them has died brings attention and love and sympathy from others, and they feel included and wanted and loved. But then perhaps that feeling fades so they have to make up another story so they can get that feeling again and again.
Maybe they had a hard childhood and never had a support network and this is their way of making up for it?
Maybe they have actually started to believe their own lies, so now they can’t tell the difference between whats real and whats not.
Maybe they really are just a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic?
I don’t know. Only the people who do this could tell you why. What I can say is I think they seriously need to seek psychological help. It might be normal to tell the odd white lie, to make stuff up every now and again. But even on the internet there are limits to what people will accept as a small stretch of truth, a wee stretch of the imagination.
So if you’re one of these make believe types… my advice would be to get back in the real world.
I am not sure who Fanny Brice is, but she very wisely says….
“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?”