In an era which documents and then circulates nearly every action, why would someone lie? With near certainty of exposure and the potential threat of very public consequences, the risks would seem to outweigh the benefits. However, with the volume of information available and even more constantly bombarding us day after day, we must choose what to tune out and to what to give attention, allowing many shady and corrupt practices – though known – to disappear in the jumble. We understand people lie, but with the high number of interactions in which we participate every day, we do not want to be forever cynical. We want to see the best in people, give them the benefit of the doubt, but in so doing, we neglect our powers of discernment and subsequently forget to acknowledge the possibility that someone might be lying. Everyone, none excepted, possesses the ability to lie. We cannot always tell when, but considering potential benefits to them can help keep us on guard.
Very few people live solely for others, very few live solely for themselves, and most people land somewhere in between. For those who seem or make themselves seem to live primarily for others, it comes as a shock when they act out of greed, making charity a lucrative cover for personal gain. (This is not to say abandon all charities but simply research thoroughly before donating anywhere.) Some may take the route of complete fakery, hoping enough people will play along without looking too closely, while others may take a less overt approach. Generosity, as in the latter instance, can provide a buffer for those who view it as a balancing of scales – giving enough to allow them to act in other ways solely for personal gain, even to the detriment of others. Inklings of such make loud charity repulsive and quiet generosity endearing. The potential personal benefits of the first equal or outweigh the good done, while the second can provide little for the giver, making its authenticity more likely. Still, such speculation does not guarantee truth, making overt lies perhaps less dangerous than those which are technically truth but possess shady angles which mask ideas and intent distinct from their appearances.
Marketing factors strongly in here. We do not get the burgers or turkey dinners shown in advertisements because those are painted, stuffed, and pinned. Milk is glue, whipped cream is shaving cream, and syrup is motor oil. Certainly we can understand such measures due to photo shoot conditions with hot lights, long hours, and an uncooperative subject – the food itself. The intent is certainly to make the photos look like the food in its ideal form – except the food pictured often would never look as presented in reality, and other less deceptive measures could be taken to make food look appetizing yet not unreal. Current measures and additional tactics go above and beyond in order to elicit feelings and general biological reactions which prompt viewers to purchase. These can be fought down, but manipulations of the mind are much harder to break.
Consider the tagline “as part of a healthy breakfast”. Cyanide can be part of an otherwise healthy breakfast, but that does not mean the diner gets to live. Just so, an unhealthy product touted as part of a pictured healthy breakfast makes it no less unhealthy in itself, though advertisers did not technically tell a lie. An advertised toothbrush is the “best” but only because it does the job a toothbrush must do. Therefore, all toothbrushes are the “best”. Nine out of ten dentists would recommend this toothbrush because it is a toothbrush and they recommend brushing your teeth. Perhaps the tenth one is the one with standards. “Experts say” often never elaborates on what kind of experts. Turtle experts remain experts no matter the topic on which they speak; they just may not be experts on that specific topic. “Sources familiar with the matter” could be absolutely anyone who has even passing knowledge of whatever matter it is. Even those looking to such sources for further information already have some familiarity with it, otherwise they probably would not be looking into it. People off the street could be told about the matter and then asked to comment on it. “Familiar” does not equal “knowledgeable”. Such terms and phrases provide the listener with security to trust the information given and are not technically untrue. They are, however, deceptive.
We need not fall for such deception, but so often it appears more convenient to do so. We know burgers do not look as advertised, even jokingly lamenting it with one another, but still allow ourselves to get drawn in by the falsehoods, making another purchase as soon as possible. We allow companies to continue such practices, with loopholes in accountability. Too many battles need fighting and too many personal struggles need attending, so deceivers aim to simply blend into the crowd as we continue lying to ourselves. Deception by omission and idealism, whether from companies, celebrities, or other influencers, bleeds into our own lives. We profess the goals that we would like to accomplish – what we “plan” to do and where to go – and then, over and over again, fail to deliver. Though it may seem much easier to express a pleasant half-truth than an unadorned or frustrating whole one, it keeps us stuck in eventualities and facades, a conditioned reality filled with paint, pins, and empty phrases. Our only way out is through whole truths and harsh realities, and the strength we will find when we finally decide to start pushing back.