Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Lies. We catch people in them, we watch the consequences of them, yet we do it ourselves in one capacity or another every day. According to psychologist Dr. Angela Evans, the concept of lying starts to be used when children are around three years old. This early exposure is typically met with the iteration that lying is bad and should be avoided if possible. Adults take the “if possible” a little too seriously as a University of Massachusetts study reveals that “60 percent of adults can’t hold a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once.”
Why do we do this?
As humans, lying is a natural trait that we unfortunately possess. Our desire to have someone to trust mixed with our inherently easy tendency to lie sets us up for much disappointment. The trust we put in someone is almost similar in intensity to the love we feel for those we are close to. The most frightening thing to think about is the fact that anyone can lie at any given moment. The days of warning signs being those who are shifty-eyed entrepreneurs or overconfident presidents are over. Think about the last time someone lied to you? Could you tell it was a lie or did you believe what was said?
The most recent and unfortunate instance of lying on the national level was Jussie Smollett, ex-star of Fox’s Empire. With the country at his feet hanging on every excruciating detail spoken, Smollett told the world of his experience with violence done to him due to him being homosexual. The majority of Americans felt empathy for this man and countless others who have faced similar disheartening hate crimes. The powerful confession of his experience as a victim to these crimes had the perfect backdrop of a currently more progressive society. His story was too believable to be false. And then it came out to be that it was indeed false.
His profession as an actor definitely helped out his case, but more than that he took advantage of the present societal stage of an emphasis on listening. Recent movements like Me Too and Black Lives Matter have forged a path for people to listen to anyone’s story first and then express their opinions outwardly. These ultra personal stories have no reason, in theory, to be perceived as a lie. In the average person’s mind, someone who shares vivid and vulnerable parts of themselves to such a wide audience should have people believe their story. Even better, add a dash of emotionality to the words you say and you’re golden. The more people believe your story, the less of a chance someone will become skeptical of what you’re saying.
Due to the sleuthing of policemen, Smollett was found in an embarrassing lie. America was shocked and felt betrayed by such a well-told story. It enraged many because Smollett used this lie for the sympathy and attention it would bring to him. He used the fact that he was a part of both the LGBTQ and Black community to gain solid credibility which wound up costing him his career. So before you believe a well-told and emotionally passionate story, think about what’s to gain if you believed them. More times than not, you’re not being told the truth and your credibility can be used for a more calculated plan.