White lies apparent in everyday lifestyle


Ipsa Chaudhary

Infographic by Paige Martin

Little white lies. They’re innocent enough. Lying to people about how good their cooking is can’t really hurt them. And when you’re late, it’s much easier to blame the traffic than yourself. In fact, on more than one occasion, I’ve caught myself with a fib on the tip of my tongue.

One such time was when I was preparing to go out on a Friday night with a friend. We were getting ready to meet with a group of people. We spent the next hour applying our makeup and doing our hair at an extremely glacial pace.

As she put the finishing touches on her face, she turned around and looked at me expectantly.

“What do you think? Is it too much?” she asked. “More eyeliner?”

It took all I had not to word vomit on her. Truth be told, she looked like a raccoon with a rash on her cheeks. But what could I say? I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what I actually thought, especially with that look of hopeful excitement plastered on her face.

So I lied.

“It looks great.”

I blurted out the words carelessly. Not only did I lie, but I told her the makeup was “great.” I could have gone with a simple “good.” But no. I had to say “great.” She beamed, and I managed a smile back.

I would like to say nothing happened after that and we had a good time with our friends. But there comes a time when the little white lies become muddy. And there are consequences.

Not long into dinner with our friends, someone made a callous remark directed at the “great” makeup, something to the effect of her looking like a prostitute. And although it was just a poorly thought out joke, not only did my lie ruin dinner for her, but it took awhile to patch up things between us because she blamed me for letting her go out in public looking “like a bimbo,” as she put it.

When we think of little white lies, we mostly think of our own lives. While my personal white lies may be seen as minimal, my emotions were affected in one way or another. And while these white lies began as harmless non-truths, these non-truths have the potential to escalate into something greater, affecting more people than just one.

Last year David Petraeus, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, began an affair with Paula Broadwell, principal author of his biography. But when Broadwell sent threatening messages to a friend of Petraeus, he ended their affair. Broadwell was called in for questioning by the FBI, and the affair was exposed. When the FBI wrapped up the case in November, Petraeus acted with decorum and resigned.

Petraeus didn’t lie about his affair, and he didn’t disclose any information that could threaten national security. Because of his honesty, many people still have faith in him.
Petraeus had a hard decision to make. Lying is often easier than owning up to the truth, and I couldn’t truly empathize with how my friend felt when I lied to her until I found myself in a similar situation.

On a Friday night last summer, I asked a friend to hang out. She said she couldn’t because of “family stuff,” so I stayed home.

But as I sat in bed with my laptop propped on my knees Facebook stalking people, a picture of my friend and a group of other people I vaguely knew from school popped up on my news feed. As I realized my friend had shouldered me aside, I became more upset. If she didn’t want to hang out with me, she could have just said.

I decided not to say anything to her because I didn’t want to come off as catty and immature. Confronting my friend was too difficult; instead, I gave her the cold shoulder.

She asked what was wrong, and I asked her if she had fun Friday night. Her expression fell like leaves from an autumn tree, realizing she was caught, and that her one attempt at a lie now caused a rift in our relationship. She explained that she’d previously made plans and was trying to spare my feelings by saying she was busy. She lied, but I might have done the same if I was in her position.

Although in both situations everything turned out all right, was there really a point to lying? No matter how harmless the lie, it just created trouble and unnecessary tension. I thought I was sparing my friend’s feelings, but it was just an easy way out for me. I didn’t understand the implications of my lie, and the effect it had on other people. It wasn’t until I was in a similar situation that I truly understood why she had been upset with me in the first place.

Whether lying about someone’s cooking or getting my homework in on time, I’m doing it to relieve my own guilt and sense of responsibility rather than actually having my friends’ best interests at heart. It just took me being at the receiving end of the lie for me to realize that what’s best is actually the truth.
By Ipsa Chaudhary
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