Is lying always bad?

The post has many spoilers about various movies and TV series. The list includes:
* The Invention of Lying
* House (TV series)
* Lucifer (TV series)
* Supernatural (TV series)

Everybody lies, right? I was thinking about this. Small or big, everybody lies and life goes on. You may lie about how far are you from the restaurant, like telling people you’ll be there in 5 when you actually will be there in 10. You may lie about killing people, like when you lie when you’re a psychopath murderer and cannibal and you lie to the court. The point is everybody lies.

But is lying always bad?Like if I tell someone that she’s beautiful just to make her happy, did I do a wrong thing? I know I shouldn’t lie about my work experience when I’m applying as a neurosurgeon while my only work experience is none, but what about lying when you really don’t want to visit some friends at the moment so you tell them you’re busy so you don’t hurt their feelings?

In the movie The Invention of Lying, Mark starts lying when his mom is dying. Nobody can lie in that alternative reality, nobody. Mark (Ricky Gervais) starts lying when his mom, in hospital, tells him that she’s scared of dying. She doesn’t want to go to an eternity of nothingness. Mark, trying to comfort his mom, tells her she’s wrong. He says it’s not an eternity of nothingness, rather you go to your favorite place in the whole world. There will be no pain, there’s love there, happiness, and everyone gets a mansion.

Was he wrong? In that alternative reality he lied to his mother and went on to lie to everybody else but did he do something wrong when he lied to his mother? And if yes, why? All he did was to tell a harmless lie to his mother to comfort her. She won’t realize it’s a lie, it’ll only help her to die peacefully.

Lying has a bad effect. I understand that. In the movie, Mark went on a journey of lying to everybody for his own benefits. Lying to casino about winning, lying to the bank about how much money he had, etc. but at that specific moment, did he do something wrong?

Lying is bad because it makes us lie and lie again to keep up with the first one. We will tell bigger lies as a result. But we do tell harmless little white lies every now and then. If you mom cooks for you and it tastes bad, you won’t tell her that, you’ll tell her it’s delicious. It’s a lie but you’ll protect her feelings. I don’t think it’s bad to lie about this. It makes her happy, and won’t harm anyone.

In the TV series House, there was an episode that Dr. House had a (if I recall right) pastor patient who was an atheist. The pastor hallucinated that he sees Jesus. House was amazed that an atheist could work in church, the pastor told him that he lied to the church and nobody knows that he’s an atheist. He managed to do his work perfectly, helped many people, earned an honest living, and became a good member of the society, all because he lied about one small detail.

I don’t think lying is good, I try my best to not lie, but is that little lie he told the church bad? He did his job with no problem as he was supposed to do. Nobody got hurt, nobody was harmed, and quite opposite, one or more people were more happy and in a better place as the result of this lie.

In the TV series Lucifer, Lucifer is famous for always telling the truth. It’s awesome. I always wanted to be able to do that. Always telling the truth is such an amazing ability to have. However, he managed to not answer somethings by asking a question in return, or changing the subject. I was thinking, isn’t that lying?

To lie is to give a false impression. So sometimes, giving only half the truth, or changing the subject, or asking a question in return, could be considered a lie. We all have something to hide. We have guilty pleasures, we have some people we like but not that much, we all have people who we love and don’t want to hurt their feelings, and so on, and we lie. It keeps the balance.

There will be chaos if we don’t lie. In an episode of TV series Supernatural, son of the devil will make everyone stop lying (warning: YouTube link). It causes chaos in a funny way but also the scene makes you think. It’s not possible to quit lying quickly, and it’s not possible to stop lying when you’ve said countless lies in your life, so is not-lying possible at all?

It’s a dream of mine to be able to not say even smallest lies. Being able to be truthful, honest, and straight with everybody is a dream. I personally believe there’s no harm in little lies we tell every day, such as “I’m fine” when someone asks us how we are, or telling your grandma that the dinner she cooked is delicious. There’s no harm in telling your children that tooth fairy puts money under their pillow or santa gives them presents. It’s OK to tell your children that storks bring babies.

But I still think it would be awesome if we could just tell the truth. Lying is not always bad and telling the truth is not always good. Lying is needed to balance our lives. A lie is a great story that someone ruined with truth. Barney Stinson said that.

Oh and wouldn’t it be funny if someone’s pants caught on fire when we sang liar, liar, pants on fire?

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.