CYNERGY: Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

Cynthia Burton
Cynthia Burton

Pinocchio, a prodigious number of politicians, some shifty lawyers and recalcitrant Ryan Lochte. Common theme? Liars.

In the Bible, Joseph’s jealous brothers lied to their father and told him that Joseph was dead (they’d actually sold poor Joseph into slavery). Liars. Peter denied that he knew Jesus of Nazareth. Liar. The TV show, “Pretty Little Liars?” Self-explanatory. Remember the movies “Liar Liar” and “True Lies” from the 1990s? Let’s not forget the songs “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles, Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell Me Lies.” Lying has permeated society since the dawn of mankind. Imagine a cavewoman asking her hubby, “You missed dinner! Where have you been?” He answers sheepishly, “I was chilling out in my man cave.” Liar! He was out rabble-rousing with his Neanderthal buddies.

What drives the basic human instinct to stretch the truth? Why do we tell tall tales? Why do we fabricate fibs? Do we aspire to be liars? What’s the difference between a little white lie and a lie? Why are white lies white and not magenta? How about this: a pod of whales, a murder of crows, a choir of liars?

Have you ever told a lie? Do you lie like a rug? Wait, did you just say no? Liar! Liar! Pants on fire! According to a study by Dr. Bella DePaulo, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, most people lie once or twice a day. The weekly average is about 11. Remember when you told that co-worker you liked her new hair cut? But in your mind you were like, “OMG? Did she cut it herself with no mirror and rusty scissors while texting?” How about when you told that one guy you couldn’t go out for coffee because you were sick (but in reality you chose the other guy who was hotter and offered dinner and a movie). You also assured your concerned mother not to worry because things are going great. But you’re depressed and life sucks. Oh, what a wicked web we weave when spinning lies!

Why do we lie? Research indicates lies are spun when our self-esteem is threatened, to avoid conflict, to impress, or to make life easier. Lying to “fit in” or to avoid rejection is also common. Years ago, I hesitantly subscribed to for one short month. I’m not naïve. I knew there was potential for falsehoods. Here’s where the lies came to fruition: The guys I met in person usually looked nothing like their profile photo. Some of weren’t technically single; eventual confessions revealed they were separated (contrary to the profile status). A few wanted to skip the dating and get right to the point (so to speak), although they were just seeking companionship and coffee. A month was too long for me with that dating venue. I’m sure millions have had great success on dating sites. My online dating experience was less than satisfactory due to the ubiquitous lies. I had no time for lies, guys.

The Eagles got it right:

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes.

And your smile is a thin disguise.

Thought by now you’d realize.

There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes.

And that’s the truth

Cynthia Burton is a Destin resident and former U.S. Marine.