x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The women’s majlis: The truth is, lies are part of life now

“You have like 15 seconds to go: ‘W ait, hold on, stop, wait, I’m sorry, that’s not true.’ If you pass that 15 seconds, now it becomes a thing where you’re like: ‘Now I have to be the guy who is very strange and weird and just said I lied about 9/11.’”

During an interview with Howard Stern, the ­American actor and stand-up comedian ­Stephen Rannazzisi admitted his lie about being in one of the World Trade Center towers at the time of the terrorist attacks on New York.

How many times have you said you were fine when you weren’t? Or that someone looked good when they didn’t? Most would define these as white lies, ones that are harmless and considered civil – a tool used to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings.

As much as honesty is admired and preferred, people have a hard time when someone lifts the curtain completely. No one has tolerance for the truth. The truth is that everyone lies on a daily basis.

While lying is morally and socially unacceptable, it doesn’t mean we welcome the truth. More often than we admit, we find honesty offensive. We’re raised to be honest and not scared of telling the truth. Later on, we start to mask the facts, because the truth can be rude.

In many cases, these lies aren’t premeditated. For the most part, a lie occurs when a person is incapable of confronting a problem – it’s a means of escape.

Lies take place in every relationship, whether between spouses, friends or colleagues. Excuses vary from sparing a person’s feelings to hiding a mistake to save a relationship.

Fear knows no age. A child will lie to their parents to avoid punishment. Adults will lie to avoid the ramifications of their mistakes; to avoid confrontation when they’re at fault.

Lies usually stem from low self-esteem, and the need to gain the attention and approval of others. Such as Rannazzisi, who had moved to California before the 9/11 attack. He was in a strange new city with strange new people, wanting to grab their attention and blend in.

Some lie to gain something in return. Job interviews are a common example. However, like all lies, they only benefit the liar in the short term, because they’re usually caught out.

Self-deception is the worst kind of lying. We use it as a technique to cope with our shortcomings. When we say: “I’ll start dieting tomorrow”, we always mean it, but deep down we’re well aware of all the times we said the exact same line. Self-deception often involves lies that we end up believing.

Unlike the tale of Pinocchio, your nose doesn’t grow when you lie, but your conscience does grow heavy. You carry the shame and guilt, plus the anxiety of remembering the lie. Concealing the truth is more shameful than admitting the truth.

Sara Al Hameiri is an aspiring writer from Abu Dhabi

If you have a good story to tell or an interesting issue to debate, contact Melinda Healy on mhealy@thenational.ae.