When Is A Lie A Lie?

Image by tswedensky from Pixabay

Image by Tswedensky from Pixabay

Lying is the best way to destroy any trust someone might have in you.

 

Warren and Sadie

Sadie had convinced the band in the coffee shop to give Warren a try while Frank, their bass player, was away for six months. The first few gigs went really well. Warren fit in perfectly, even though the band members were apprehensive because Warren was known for not keeping his word. They had taken Sadie at her word and hired him.

Warren decided the least he could do was to take Sadie out for a night on the town. He had decided not to tell Sadie that he had a steady girlfriend. What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her? After all, he owed her something for getting him the gig.

“I’m not lying to her if I just don’t say anything,” he said to himself hoping his steady girlfriend wouldn’t find out either. “I’m not lying to either of them if I keep my mouth shut.”

 

Sidebar: Warren is withholding key information. He is treating Sadie and his girlfriend unfairly, but is he actually lying?

 

Warren walked Sadie to the door after their night out, “Come on in. You can see my place and meet my babies.”

“Babies?” Warren asked with a look of alarm.

“My cats.”

“Okay, for a few minutes. I don’t have to work tomorrow,” he said.

Fiona, the fluffy Maine Coon, met them at the door, as usual. Sadie picked her up, snuggling her then took her Warren as she got them both a glass of wine.

“Freddy is a scardy cat,” Sadie said while getting the wine. “It takes him a while to warm up to other people.”

They drank and talked and stumbled down the hall to the bedroom.

Warren woke up as the sun started peeking over the mountain tops. He looked at Sadie fast asleep. He grabbed his clothes and headed for the front room so as not to wake her. He had to leave. Gabby, his girlfriend couldn’t find out about this. She always brought him a Starbucks on her way to work. He had to be home before then.

He had been in the house about a half-hour when he heard the key in the door lock. That was close he said quietly to himself.

Gabby entered with his favorite Starbucks.

“You look terrible. What time did you get home?” Gabby asked

“The gig went longer than expected. Everybody was having such a good time the owner let us keep playing. We were all so jazzed we went to one of the groupie’s houses for a drink. I don’t know exactly when I got home, but I’m tired.”

 

Sidebar: Again Warren is withholding key information, but is he actually lying? Warren’s statement to Gabby is incomplete and his statement was clearly made with the intent to mislead, but technically it is true. Did Warren lie?

 

A few days later the band took a ferry across to Catalina Island to play a gig. The agreement was that they were all to pay their own fare. Warren slipped on board without paying. As the ferry was taking off a porter came by asking if everyone had paid. Warren remained silent and never did pay.

 

Sidebar: Warren did not make a statement of any kind. He did not say anything to mislead, therefore, did Warren lie?

 

A week later, Sadie asked Warren if he’d go to the movies with her. He said he really felt bad, but he couldn’t go.

 

Sidebar: Warren didn’t feel bad at all about not going to the movies with Sadie. He didn’t like the movie and he had a date with Gabby. Is Warren lying? Would Warren’s actions and words be considered lying even though he hasn’t been caught, yet? Or does he have to be caught in deception before it’s considered a lie?

 

Different Types of Lies

To me, a lie is a lie, but when I started doing research on lying, I discovered different perceptions and definitions of lying.

Crossing Your Fingers Behind Your Back

Crossing your fingers, as in the picture above, is a gesture that’s traced back to the early centuries. It was commonly found in the Christians who would cross their fingers believing that having the fingers crossed behind the back makes it okay to lie.

Is this a lie?

As I pass a co-worker in the hallway, she smiles and says, “Hi, how are you?” I smile back and respond, “Fantastic, and you?” I wasn’t exactly honest. I was having a really bad day – so my day wasn’t “fantastic.” I was extremely tired and very annoyed because I was running late. Was what I said a lie? Should all similar cases of misleading be considered lies, even if you don’t feel it is appropriate to tell everyone your problems?

 

Is a lie of omission still a lie?

Lying by omission is a misrepresentation of the truth. It occurs when important facts are left out to give a different slant to the facts. This also involves the deceptive practice of ‘quote mining’ which is quoting something out of context in order to distort the intended meaning. It’s also considered lying by omission when a pre-existing misconception is not corrected.

 

What is a ‘white lie’?

A white lie, according to the definition, is a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. A ‘white lie’, though, is still a lie even in its most innocent form.

 

Is it a lie if it’s unintentional?

An ‘unintentional lie’ is an oxymoron, because without the intent to deceive it cannot be called a lie.

 

Is an exaggeration a lie?

An exaggeration is a euphemism, a milder form of definition, not as harsh or blunt, as a lie. It is a common and socially accepted lie, but it is still a lie.

 

What is the difference between lying and not telling the truth?

Lying and not telling the truth are the same. The purpose of both is to hide the truth. Not telling the truth is lying by omission, where lying is presenting something that is not true, as the truth. The end result is the same.

 

What is compulsive lying?

Compulsive lying or pathological lying is a habit. It’s where an individual consistently lies, but not necessarily for no personal gain. Because of a lack of trust, most pathological liars have difficulty maintaining relationships and friendships. Although, they do tend to make great conmen and criminals.

 

Is lying a criminal offense?

Perjury, lying under oath, is considered a very serious offense and is classified as a felony with a prison sentence up to five years.

 

What is a ‘Bald-Face Lie’?

‘Bald-Face Lie’ is a lie that everyone knows is a lie and is not necessarily to deceive. Yet, ’bald-faced lies’ share moral commonalities with lies that are intended to deceive. Both types of lies are attempts to manipulate people.

 

An Outright Lie

Some people create stories about themselves, others or situations that are completely made up of lies. This is often done for sport or so he/she can manipulate another person or situation, or gain a temporary advantage of some sort.

 

Gossip and Rumors

Gossip and rumors are part of everyday life in our society. Even the media spreads rumors and gossip (fake-news) as truth. We as the viewers often don’t know what to believe or where the lie ends and the truth begins.

 

Not Keeping Your Word

In our modern culture, we have not prioritized or put much value in keeping one’s word. We rationalize and justify it: Things happen – it’s no big deal. Yet, we don’t realize that it is a serious character issue to NOT keep your word. Not keeping your word makes it a lie.

 

Today’s Society

In today’s society, lying has become commonplace.  The media is often called the ‘Fake News’ because they spin hearsay or gossip into ‘news stories. Any more, it’s difficult, to tell the truth from a lie.

 

Many people lie to make themselves look better to others. Some lie to hide a painful truth that they aren’t comfortable sharing. It becomes a way of fixing problems or an illusion of fixing problems at the moment. Once a person starts lying, it can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. People lie for a number of reasons including:

  • Need approval.
  • Want to please others.
  • Change people’s perception of them – “better than they really are”.
  • Control a situation or a response.
  • Hide true feelings.
  • Protect someone or themselves.
  • Maintain a sense of power over another person or a situation.

 

“We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” – Tad

 

Warren, Sadie, and Gabby

Sadie began showing up at Warren’s gigs and some of his practices. Sadie and the other band members began to view them as a couple. They always left together. Warren often spent the night with Sadie.

Warren had been able to continue the farce, or should we call it a lie. He became more comfortable and seemed to be able to keep the two women apart. In his own mind, he had a schedule of when he’d see each woman and what he would say to the other one. He was beginning to think a little too highly of himself.

He always cleared his phone history, text, and voice mails before meeting either woman.

“This is working,” he told himself with a little pat on the back as he drove to pick-up Gabby. He left his phone in the car when he went to the door. While he was gone Sadie called, leaving a voice mail and a text message. He had programmed his phone so only urgent calls would stay in the call history and no bells, whistles or flashing lights would indicate a call. Sadie’s call was marked urgent.

After their date, Warren spent the night with Gabby, which was their normal routine.

Gabby had been feeling that something was off in her and Warren’s relationship. She couldn’t tell exactly what. It just seemed off. She woke up in the middle of the night and laid there looking at Warren. She finally got up and walked into the living room. Something was bugging her, but what?

Warren’s phone was on the bar between the kitchen and living room. She picked it up and looked at it. She never checked on him or any other guy she’d gone out with.

“Should I look,” she asked herself. “I’ve never had any doubts about Warren, but?”

She pushed the on button and the screen lit up. No password required. She noticed an urgent message. She wondered if there was a problem with a family member or at work. She pushed the voice mail button.

“Who’s Sadie?” she said just barely audible, as she read the message. “I can’t make it tomorrow night as planned. I was notified that I have a special project to finish at work. I’m so sorry. I will really miss you. Love and Kisses.”

Gabby was stunned. Then thoughts started running through her mind, “Maybe she’s a new member of the band,” or “Maybe a family member,” or…

Gabby turned on her computer and typed the number into Facebook. She wrote down Sadie’s contact info and stashed it in a safe place then sat on the sofa running through different scenarios. She finally decided to call Sadie after Warren left in the morning.

Gabby was still up sitting on the sofa when Warren walked out.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “You don’t look like you feel well. Don’t you have to go to work today?”

“No, I’m not feeling well. I think I have a bug or something. I’ve already called in to work. I don’t want you to catch the bug so maybe you should leave.”

“Yes, you’re right. I can’t afford to be sick,” he said as he quickly got dressed.

He started to kiss her goodbye, but she held up her hand, “I don’t think you better.”

“Right,” he said as he walked out the door. “I’ll call you later.”

When Gabby was sure he was gone she called Sadie’s number.

“Hello, Sadie?” Gabby asked.

“Yes.”

“My name is Gabby. I’m Warren’s girlfriend.” She could hear Sadie gasp on the other end of the line. “I got your number off Warren’s phone this morning. You left an urgent message on Warren’s voice mail saying, you wouldn’t be able to keep you date tonight. Could you tell me who you are?”

The line was silent for the longest time, finally Sadie said, “I thought I was Warren’s girlfriend.”

The two women talked for a while before hanging up.

Sadie went to her boss, “I’m sorry. Something extremely important has come up. I can’t stay tonight.

The band was scheduled to play at the coffee house at 7pm. Sadie knew the band would be there at 5:30pm.

When the band members walked in Gabby and Sadie were both sitting at the table nearest the stage. The leader tugged the sleeves of the others with him and pointed to the two women.

“This isn’t going to be good. I warned him, but he said he had it all under control. Oh, man, this is bad, this is bad,” he said rubbing his hand through his hair. “We have to go on. We’ve already been paid. We’re not going to make this our problem. It’s Warren’s problem. He’s been lying to both women, now he’s gotta pay the price.”

Warren walked in. He saw the women and instantly turned and headed for the door. The band leader stepped in front of him, “Nope, you’re not running. You made this mess. You’ve got a few minutes to take care of it then you better be on the stage playing your best or you’re fired.”

He walked up to the table. Both women had bags of personal items he’d left at their apartments. “These are yours,” Gabby said. “Don’t ever contact me again, ever.”

“That goes double for me,” Sadie said. They left the bags on the table and walked out together.

After spending approximately 20 years as a programmer analyst working in both the private sector and county government, Dena Warfield returned to college earning a Masters Degree in Psychology and in Creative Writing. Since graduation, her main focus has been on marketing – Direct Sales, Copywriting, and Writing for the Web. She co-owned and managed a direct marketing company with her husband working, primarily, with local newspapers. She managed the business office, human resources, and helped with training and marketing. She also designed their company Web Site plus writing for other web developers. Dena’s years of business, computer programming, and writing have helped to focus her copywriting skills in the marketing arena. Whether she is writing content for websites, emails, brochures, catalogs, or direct-response her goal is increased traffic and sales to your site or business. Education Dena earned her Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and a Master’s in Creative Writing from National University in San Diego, California. She has also completed a certification program from AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc., Delray Beach, FL.) with a focus in copywriting for the web. Author Dena has authored a self-help book designed to help people become aware of their negative thoughts and core beliefs that keep them from becoming successful. The techniques described in her book were used to help their sales rep to become more successful. Her book is currently on Amazon.com. She also enjoys writing Flash Fiction which can be found on her Facebook page, WarStories by Dena – Flash Fiction with a twist.

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