It seems as though in the face of the recent spate of lying scandals: Weiner, Schwarzenegger, Anthony: that there is a deeper problem to consider. We are bombarded so often with stories that involve serious lies and cheating, that it may no longer register as being a problem. As a society, we are becoming numb to the ongoing moral failings that are being discussed. This is a problem when our society is based on finding the truth…and then the lines are so blurred.
Despite the seeming increase in deceit, as 2009 study (report in the Human Communication Research Journal) found that 5 % of people told 50% of the lies. What does this tell us? That most of the major lies, the ones that are reported the most, are told by the most skilled liars.
Lying does seem to start early. Many teens report lying to their parents about something significant, even though they know that their parents want them to do the right thing. A 2010 Gallup poll indicates that 76% of Americans recognize that the country’s values regarding lying and cheating are diminishing.
But the core question, to me, is why do people lie? There is not a simple answer. If you are always watching others get ahead, and they may do it by lying or deceiving, eventually, you may choose to do it too. You may want to do the right thing but are so tired of watching others get ahead when they don’t, that you join in. Unfortunately, there seems to be less downside to cutting the corners than there used to be. That being said, it’s important for us as a society to start holding people accountable for their actions, which may mean establishing different guidelines judicially.
And what do people lie about the most? Most often, the lies start in order to avoid trouble or to save face. Most lies are not meant to be hurtful, although there is no guarantee that they won’t. Often, the lies are intended to help the liars, not hurt the lied to. At the end of the day, though, everyone is impacted by the lies.
What are your thoughts on the changing landscape of honesty?