Dishonesty is, and has been, a vital piece of human culture since the beginning of time. Through the need to improve and compete, this trait developed into sneaking and trickery, but eventually gave way to lying and deceit. Stephanie Ericsson’s article, “The Ways We Lie,” is a blunt take on the negative effects associated with the act of lying. She covers the topic from many different angles, dissecting why each type of lying is destructive to others, but she neglects to think of the beneficial aspects of the activity that have structured civil society around the globe.
Without various types of lies, humans would be unable to compete against each other in the 21st century version of natural selection that is present in the world today. In order to be successful in life, elaboration and embellishment are necessary on a daily basis. These facades are fragile lies though, that are often disproved and discredited, hence the evolution of defense mechanisms used by us that rely on more deception to gain advantages. This chaotic scene of embellishment and defense mechanisms would make society near impossible if it wasn’t for our susceptibility to common ignorance.
All civilizations form under the same beliefs, whether they’re true or not, bringing us to where we are today, a society that relies on the uses of facades, omission and deflection in order to function. With the era of technology, social networking, and mass media, human interaction has become much more frequent and scrutinized; every word that is said is judged instantly. Thus comes the necessity of facades for the sake of survival of the fittest. It is natural human instinct to go for the “fittest mate,” and in this day and age, that doesn’t mean most physically able.
Character is a factor, and self-presentation, multiple different things that don’t come naturally to everyone, but anyone can put on a facade and present themselves as whatever they so please. The social advantage of putting a mask on and embellishing oneself to attract any sort of benefits whether they be romantic, financial, or professional. In America, there is an idea of an “ideal life,” commonly known as the “American Dream,” is a common goal that most citizens share to get a job, house and family, and the most efficient way to get there is through elaborate facades.
The brutal side of the “American Dream” type natural selection mostly lies in the selfish aspects of it. Developing through this survival of the wittiest requires a thick shield of defense mechanisms in order to compete verbally. Humans use forms of lying that Stephanie Ericsson lists as deflection and omission. A man using his original facade to improve his live is at the scrutiny of his peers in the sense that his facade may be discovered, but developed defenses even the playing field so that lies may stay hidden. Stephanie describes deflection as instead defending oneself, going on the offensive.
This defense mechanism draws attention away from whatever lies you may hold a bring other issues to the table, holding whatever facades may be hidden deep inside. Omission allows the liar to pick and choose what parts of the truth are told when they are, so the collaboration of omission with deflection creates a shield of misinformation and uncertainty that can deflect attempts to discredit and help grant people benefits all throughout their lives. But, with these fake personalities, and the reliance humans have on defense mechanisms to protect those personalities, how can people coexist with any trust at all?
The answer lies within people’s susceptibility to ignorance on a massive scale, and their quickness to accept common knowledge for fact. The form of lying Stephanie calls ‘Groupthink’ suggests that humans rely more on the loyalty of the group than on any other sources. This is the lie that can be associated with all societies, civilizations, religions, and superstitions. People who all believe in the same things align with each other and defend the similar facades they have with their own uses of deflection and omissions to protect their group beliefs.
Stephanie Ericsson seems to wish for an end to lying in general, but lying has been an essential part of human evolution and natural selection since social interactions have been in existence. The theory of groupthink is reflected on the devout nationality of people around the world, and the influence that facades such as religion have over people’s lives. Without these fundamental lies, there’s no telling where human history would be. Our dishonesty and ignorance have shaped and molded us just how predators have molded prey throughout history.