When we lie to somebody, for whose sake are we lying? Are we lying for their sake? Or are we lying for our own sake?
More often than not, I’d say we lie to others for our own sake. We lie so that we won’t feel uncomfortable talking about a certain topic. We lie so that we can avoid confronting people. We lie so that we can fit in with a group. We lie so that we can feel better about ourselves.
I think that lying to others for their own sake is really, really, really rare. I can’t say it’s completely impossible. But I think that since it seems more beautiful and justifiable, that people would like to believe that they are lying for the other person’s sake.
We can see examples of the different types of lying in many literary works. For example, a Japanese anime/manga called Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (literally “Your Lie in April”) portrays character relationships which are built upon “white” lies for unselfish reasons. Multiple people are shown as lying for another character’s interest and not (at least not entirely) for their own interest.
Lying to others in this manner feels more wonderful than just lying for selfish reasons. This type of lying speaks of self-sacrifice, of being a hero, of saving another from the burden of that which is lied about. Because of this, it’s easier to see and characterize ourselves as lying for others, rather than for ourselves. It’s easier to digest and easier to explain, both to others if/when they find out, and to ourselves while we continue the lying.
Another way people justify lying is by explaining that they will just delay telling the truth, until it’s easier and more suitable to tell the truth. This stance seems like it could be more defensible in certain conflict situations, but only as long as there is an affirmed decision and execution of telling the truth at a later date. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to state that when people lie for this excuse, they don’t really have any intention of telling the truth later. It just feels better for liars to think this way, to think that we are delaying telling the truth because it would be too hard for others to hear the truth now. “It’s for their sake that we must lie”, we think, and try to convince ourselves.
But what happens when we lie to ourselves? When we lie to ourselves, for whose sake are we lying?
We commonly can apply different perspectives and persona based on the situation. If we lie to ourselves, one of our selves will be committing the lie, and another (or more) of our selves is in ignorance of the lie. Are we aware of which self is which? What is our reasoning for allowing this? And is this type of lying from one self to other selves even feasible with our current wetware (i.e. human brain)? Or are all of our different selves able to see the lie, and we are just refusing to acknowledge the truth?
Is lying to ourselves as beautiful as Miyazono Kaori lying to Arima Kousei? Is lying to ourselves as justifiable as parents lying to their children?
Lying is a zero-sum transaction. When one party retains certain information, the other party operates in absence of that information. When in a state of lying, one party is maintaining information dominance over the other. The lying party takes a superior position over the receiving party, who must act from an inferior position.
When we lie to others, we are exerting dominance over them. Whether we do this for the best intentions or the worst intentions, this is what we are doing. We lie to others because we want to maintain information dominance over them. This can be done assertively through choice and delivery of lying words, or passively through silence and evasiveness. Regardless of the intention, this is what we are doing when we choose lying over telling the truth.
When thinking as a Single Player, we sometimes find ourselves lying to our selves. This situation also represents a state of information dominance, although this can be even more confusing with a lack of self-awareness. Which of our selves is lying? Who is exerting dominance over who? It’s easier to recognize when we are lying to others. It’s harder to recognize when we lie to ourselves.
It’s not impossible, but I would say that recognizing when we are lying to ourselves requires a high level of self-reflection. We have to condition a habit of looking at our own thoughts and beliefs, without flinching, and identifying which ideas fit and which ideas don’t fit.
There are probably also cases where we cannot even recognize when we are lying under self-reflection. In these cases, we probably have lied to ourselves so much that even the lying self has become unaware that it is lying. This type of habit is dangerous, and one that I do not want to find myself falling into
I think that if we recognize that we find ourselves lying to others frequently, then this is an indicator that we are probably also lying to ourselves. Not lying to others does not necessarily mean that we are not lying to ourselves, but I think the habit of lying first starts from within ourselves and then propagates to others.
There is only one rhythm to Truth; Lies are chaotic and can take on any other form. The faster that we learn to find the Truth within ourselves as Single Players, the faster that we will learn to face the Truth together.