Little White Lies

How many little white lies do you think you tell every day?

1?

10?

None?  (Liar.)

At the risk of the wrath of your judgment here, I believe that little white lies are actually crucial to the successful function of everyday society.  I tell them all the time.  I probably lied to you a little the last time we talked.   I mean, really – do you want me to tell you that your new haircut actually makes you look like Florence Henderson with a bad dye job?  Or that the jewelry you’re so proud of having selected all by yourself is not only out of season but also clashes horribly with the outfit you bought it specifically to coordinate with?  Or that the “trendy” white velour track suit you’re wearing  – and I don’t care how much it cost – makes your butt look like an ad for Stay Puft marshmallows?  Or that you staying at home all weekend watching bad romance movies instead of getting out there and dating really does make you a loser?  Probably not.  Even if you think you’re one of those people who “values honesty” (honestly – and this isn’t a little white lie – I can’t stand those people), it seems unlikely that you want to hear any of those thinly veiled digs disguised as “honest feedback” to your face.  You probably don’t want to hear that I said them behind your back, either – but that’s another story.

I tell little white lies because – and this is going to be a big revelation here, so hang on to your hats – I’ve discovered that my over-opinionated commentary often has no effect whatsoever on other people’s lives or decisions.  As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered that other people often do whatever the hell they want to anyway, regardless of my or anyone’s else’s opinion.  (So why do you ask?)  Me spending the energy to wrap the truth in enough kindly protective padding so as not to shatter someone else’s fragile ego when delivering it is more exhausting than just telling someone something that makes them feel good.  Or, at least, something that isn’t a blatant insult.

For the record, this does not mean that I condone enthusiastic praise of obviously bad decisions (in relationships, fashion, careers, etc.) – but it does mean that instead of telling my girlfriend with the unibrow (who refuses to wax) that she’ll probably be single for the rest of her life unless she does something about it that actually she could totally rock the Brooke Shields look, if she’d be maybe willing to clean up just a little?  Totally.  It means that I recognize that there’s a fine line between the truth that will probably bring someone down and a little white lie that will probably make someone feel at least accepted, if not amazing.

I’ve learned this from my dear friend, who makes everyone around her feel amazing, myself included.  Sometimes when she says things to me, I know she’s lying.  She lies all the time – but they’re those special little white lies that keep me from feeling bad about myself (the way the truth would), and that give me a way out with dignity, even when sometimes I don’t deserve it.  Where I – the more judgmental, harsher, less compassionate personality – would be inclined to make a snarky, sorority girl* comment about someone’s hair, nails, choice of outfit, etc., she finds the good in a situation and helps build someone’s confidence in such a tactful way that they would be more inclined to make a better decision in the future.  It’s so artful that you realize later that even while she may have been judging you just a little, she’s provided, underneath that supportive veneer, just enough truth to make you think twice the next time around.

*For the record:  I am a sorority girl.  Or was.  No, I am.  We’re lifers, actually.  So I get to own those snarky little comments, because, you know – it comes with the territory.

In any case, it’s amazing what a little positivity will do.  I have my moments of brattiness (which are also crucial to the successful function of everyday society – I mean, if you can’t be catty every now and then, you’d explode), but for the most part I make a concerted effort to tell little white lies.  I believe in karma, so I figure what goes around comes around and really, everyone benefits from little white lies.  Myself included.  And at the end of the day, I’m all about me, so…your haircut’s totally retro, and retro’s in, so it’s very trendy.  Very trendy, indeed.

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5 responses to “Little White Lies

  1. OMG, please tell me if my jewelry looks bad and if my butt looks like a bag of marshmallows. The haircut … since there wouldn’t be much I can do about that, feel free to lie. 🙂 I, too, am a big advocate of the little white lies, but more so of “If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” and “Wait until someone asks for your opinion to give it.”

  2. #1) This is amazing.
    #2) #1 is NOT a white lie.
    #3) Am I the girlfriend you’re referring to? 😉

  3. You girls crack me up. And neither of you is that girl. 😉 And both of YOU are amazing!

  4. Found your blog by accident (my blog “suggested it” because I write about dogs and the human condition, and your “dog park” post got caught in the Web)… just so you know, Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin) calls hypocrisy one of the social graces, and believes that one of the worst aspects of modern society is the belief that we have to tell the truth ALL THE TIME.

    Here’s to civility and little white lies!

  5. Thank you for reading, and for your comment! I LOVE that hypocrisy is a social grace…I’ll toast to that any day.

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