Our theme for the month of July is “stunt journalism.” Writers were asked to try something new, take on a challenge, or perform some other interesting feat strictly for the purpose of writing about it.
“All writers are liars. They twist events to suit themselves.” – Nina Bawden
I am a pretty frequent liar. Two months ago, I wrote a post about my distaste for polite small talk.
This month, to give myself something interesting to write about, I decided to quit lying.
Unfortunately… it would appear that I am addicted.
My encounter with “The Whole Truth” Diet taught me a lot more about my habits and relationship with reality. When I was no longer allowed to lie, I realized that I slander, perjure, and deceive with surprising frequency.
“All you have to say when someone asks how you are is, ‘Hangin’ in there, thanks,’” – Charles Zorn
This month, I learned that I lie multiple times each day—to colleagues, parents, store clerks, waitresses, people who like movies that I hate, empathetic friends, and overly friendly strangers at the bank who think they know me from somewhere.
Questions became very problematic in this Month of No Lying, particularly questions like: “Lauren, what do you think?” “Sorry, did that bother you?” “Did you get my text?” and “How was the church service?”
My brother-in-law thinks that, sometimes, the key to truthfulness is being vague.
“…fiction has allowed us not only to imagine things, but to do so collectively” – Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens
The Month of No Lying forced me to sit out a church creed with which I didn’t actually agree. The Month of No Lying forced me to admit to eavesdropping when it would have been far more comfortable to sneak out the back door. The Month of No Lying forced me to admit that, rather than having good intentions and crappy WiFi, I had just been a bad friend.
I read somewhere once that it is difficult to apologize because it requires “wading deep into shame.” I might as well have worn rain boots this whole month for all the shame I forced myself to slog through, both for myself and for others. Perhaps because I haven’t allowed myself to feel it. Maybe it’s just detoxing after years of addiction.
“Isn’t it better,” I ask myself, “to maintain my pleasant relationship with this lovely gas station attendant by telling her that my day is going swell, even though I just cried in the parking lot?”
“This lie,” I tell myself, “is just my participation in maintaining the positive collective imagination that is the unique ability of the human race.”
“Everybody lies…” – Seth Stephens Davidowitz, Everybody Lies
I find it far easier to tell the truth in writing than in person.
It’s pretty difficult to know how to end this blog post because I’m not really sure what I learned from all this.
How does one measure the relative good or evil that dishonesty can produce? I didn’t hurt the store clerk’s feelings: good. I made someone else’s life easier: nice. I smeared my soul with the filth of my sin: bad.
Throwing oneself on a sword of shame for the sake of the freedom of the truth: good. Giving the overly friendly woman at the bank a fake email address: up for debate.
As a whole, I’m left with the feeling that I need to be more brave.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Oh, screw you, Kurt.
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.