If I told you that I wanted to create a lie-less utopia, would you want to join? I hope you would, because I think it’d be a great place. Friends, I really want to convince you all to tell the truth to everyone about everything, no matter the situation. I guarantee you’ll enjoy life more if you do.
Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t think for a second that a lie-less utopia is possible. One of you guys will slip up, I’m sure. Not everyone can be as honest and perfect as I am. Regardless, I feel like I have to try and persuade you. There’s no harm in trying, you know?
Now, a word of caution: I don’t have a single empirical or even fact-based argument to support this dream of mine. I just have a series of selfish, somewhat thought-out reasons. I can’t promise you’ll agree with me, but you’ll definitely be entertained.
I know a lot of you will be aching to pick apart this piece and give me situations where lying would be preferable or even healthy. I encourage you to do that: Tell me exactly those situations in which you’d rather lie than give the truth. Change my mind, if you will. It’s only fair that I give you a turn to share after you listen to me ramble. My email is email@example.com if you have anything to say.
Now, without further ado, here are three reasons why you dishonest, fibster subhumans should stop lying. And remember, if any of you have ever lied at any point in your lives, this one’s for you.
Reason 1: The world we live in is sufficiently big and confusing on its own.
I can’t speak for the rest of you dishonest folk, but this is true for me. I’ve encountered so many unique and complex people living crazy and fascinating lives. It’s all extremely interesting and I have a hard time keeping track of it all. I’m overwhelmed by — yet fully satisfied with — just living in the world. But this world isn’t enough for some people. So they lie.
Tuck all that away in the back of your mind for a little bit. First, there are two important things I’ll explain to you in my own terms: my simple and efficient way to interpret life, and what it means to lie. You’ll love this, I swear. It’s good stuff.
In life, there’s a world for things that are. We live in that world. We’ll call it the real world. Cool, huh? Now, there’s also another world, one not as cool. It’s the world we create for things that aren’t. That’s where lies and their creators live. We’ll call that the fake world.
If you use this lens, everything simplifies. Think of it like this. The flip phone in your pocket, that’s in the real world. The smartphone you tell people you have so you can look cool, that’s in the fake world. Keep it there — we all know you can’t pull it out anyway.
Things that you subjectively believe are things in the real world too. Your feelings aren’t fake — they’re real, even if only you’re the only one who feels them. If someone asks how you’re feeling, and you feel good, that’s real. If you answer that you’re not when you actually are, that’s fake. If you’re hungry, you’re hungry. If you’re sad, who am I to say you’re not? If you feel like a woman or a man, despite what anyone might say, that’s real for you. Simple enough, right?
Lying is also pretty easy to understand. Lying is when, despite knowing something is real — whether it’s an existence, event or feeling — you act or speak in a way that contradicts that real thing.
Now with that in mind, consider this.
In the context of the real and fake worlds, when you lie, you’re taking something from that gross, icky fake world and blending it into the awesome real world. It’s just plain vile, guys. You’re putting vinegar in my refreshing glass of water. It looks normal and fine, but I know the taste is wrong. You’re getting your dirty shoes all over my pristine home—and you need to stop. I work hard to keep my floors clean. I think you get it. Don’t mix what isn’t with what is.
Why should you keep the two worlds separate? The answer is simple, you pathological liar.
Reason 2: We don’t need more worlds.
The real world is already big enough. It’s confusing as it is. I don’t need you to introduce a new fake world to confuse me.
There are over seven billion people in the real world. Just think, how many people do you know with the same first name? Probably more than 3 pairs, right? That must be hard to keep track of. And don’t get me started on things that aren’t people. Phones, cars, trains, money — it’s a lot. I certainly can’t keep up with you if you add a new layer of difficulty. Don’t lie — it makes living in the real world hard.
Don’t tell me about Steven from back home, if “back home” is the fake world. Don’t complicate my world by trying to fabricate another. You’re making it difficult for me, yes, but you’re making it hard for yourself too. Things in the real world exist already. You don’t have to go through the trouble of defining or explaining them. Your real world acquaintances have lives, hobbies and histories. You didn’t have to make those.
The fake world, however, is your creation. From the moment you start to interact with it, it grows. If I ask you to tell me more about Steven, you’ll have to come up with his hobbies from scratch. Your fake world now metastasizes. It’s like a cancer but one that you created. And, unless you have someone in on the lie, you’re the only one capable of explaining things like “why he doesn’t have social media” and “why no one’s ever heard of this highly prestigious school overseas.”
Reason 3: We only share one world.
So, I’ll end with this idea. Everyone has access to their own fake worlds. There are infinitely many fabricable universes that don’t exist. Even my utopia, one where no one lies, is just an idyllic fake world. There is some good to fake worlds, though: we can use them as ideals toward which to work, finish lines toward which to race in the real world. But that’s about it.
This is because what you and I have in common — and this is really what life is, so write this down — is that we cohabit in the real world. That’s what it means to be connected. I don’t know your fake world the way you know it, so I can’t truly interact with it. For us to meaningfully interact with each other, we must be grounded in the real world. That’s the only place we’ve both been.
Interacting with other living people in our shared world is what defines living. The moment you bring a fake world into our shared reality is the moment you leave reality. You stop experiencing the only thing that we have in common. You stop living.
Life is short, dreadfully short, and as far as we know, we only get one. So be practical. Don’t waste your life entertaining things that aren’t real. The world we live in is big and beautiful and has more than enough to keep you satisfied. Keep your fake world in your head or, better yet, destroy it entirely. For your own sake, live. Live life with others in the only world you’ll ever have in common, the only world that was made for us all.
And the only way to do that? You guessed it. You’ve gotta learn not to lie.