Tag Archives: social convention

A socially acceptable nitwit

People have to tell fibs, or else they couldn’t stand each other.

Anyone who takes personal pride in telling the absolute truth at every moment is a sadist, not a saint.

Aphorisms are incomplete descriptions of the world that is. But the same society that attempts to create restrictions, “lying is wrong”, that same society also creates conventions about when lying is not only not wrong, but nearly a requirement.

You can’t tell Aunt Frieda that she looks like a walking corpse today, even if she does. You can’t ever tell the truth about the deceased at a wake. There are literally thousands of these required white lies, little harmless social-convention fibs. “We don’t ask someone that, Jimmy. It isn’t polite.”

It’s a confusing world for kids. Dad’s proud of how he “talked his way out of” that speeding ticket. Mom told Julie how stunning she looks in that fugly puce bridesmaid dress. Kids learn to lie very early, and from their parents. But teaching the social convention constructions that surround concepts like “tact” or “diplomacy” is a live minefield, for parents with children at certain ages.

Because the parents themselves often haven’t ever formalized their ethics. Under what conditions, and for what goals, is lying acceptable to me. I certainly haven’t. When is “what will the neighbors think” more important than the Truth (capital “T”)?

Hell, I dunno. Like most folks I just muddle through, and try to avoid lying (generally) but whip out the white lies in a heartbeat when cornered.

Guess I’m weak.

RecDave Seal

A lie by any other name would smell…oh never mind

As kids, we’re told, time and again, that lying is wrong. Do you believe that’s always true? In your book, are there any exceptions?