Something that my professor mentioned this week really got me thinking. He said that people lie more today than they used to. Is that really true? I personally don’t think so. What I think has changed in terms of lying over the years is that it is a lot harder to lie about the big things and as a society we put more attention on the little lies. I also think that we live in a world where people are more judgmental of others as a result of their own insecurities and calling people out on their lies is a way to make ourselves feel better about how we live our lives.
Think about it. When someone blunders with their facts in a speech or in an article people waste no time jumping on the Internet and crying out about lies and mistruths. I’m sure people made similar blunders in speeches years ago, the only difference is that today people find out about it in seconds and have mediums that allow them to reach masses quickly. Say a local politician in the 30’s said something that was geographically incorrect, who’s going to hear about it? Maybe the local press if it really is the only news going on in town but most people didn’t care enough to call people out for their faults on a large scale nor did they have the means to reach hundreds of thousands in seconds. I’m sure in some cases by the time it hit the press it was old news.
When someone lies now, their image is branded by that lie for quite some time. Think Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff; all of them lied about something that permanently affected how society viewed them for a long time. Out of that group I think that at this time Clinton may be the only one to have really overcome the lies that became his image. People still associate his lies with them but they now look past them.
Also, notice that lying is really only called forth when it is the result of the behavior of a politician, celebrity, athlete or someone else who is a large public figure. Otherwise, everyday lying is not traditionally the focus of many people’s attention’s. On a day to day basis the only people who care about a lie are the people who did the lying or the people who feel victimized by the lie itself.
Lying is not a new concept to this generation, nor the generation before that or the generation previous to that, lying has existed for centuries. I think that society almost needs lying to function successfully because without it there would not be a way to distinguish poor social behavior versus good social behavior; dishonesty and honesty are like yin and yang. I don’t by any means believe that people should lie but I think that lying is an entity that exists for a reason and always has. The only thing that has really changed is the amount of public attention drawn to lying.