Lying Beyond the Trend and Changing Our Cultural Conscience
Do you even know what a lie is anymore? Of, course you do. Really?
Did you know the most important part of a lie isn’t the lie itself? Is it the motive? I mean what’s the first thing your mama asked you when she caught you in a lie? “Why did you lie to me?” Maybe it’s the effect of the lie.
We lie to ourselves and others lie to us because we reinforce on a daily, maybe even hourly basis, that lying is an acceptable way of communicating. This is Pseudos.
Why is Pseudos in particular so dangerous? What happens because of Pseudos?
#1: When we lie to ourselves it sets us up as victims.
#2: When others lie to us we are taken advantage of like victims.
This becomes the perfect psychological weapon.
Introducing…the cultural conscience…
We all have our own sense of needing to achieve. Some of us have higher levels of achievement than others do, but what keeps the achievers reaching for higher goals? Why don’t they become satisfied after one achievement? Maybe it is because, with achievement there comes rewards. We actively, like all animals, try to make the correct decisions and react in the way that will bring us rewards.
Comparing animals such as dogs or horses to humans in personality is one way we can judge if there are any ulterior motives unique to humans. Bear with me. This makes perfect sense, not only because many of us today, consider our pets to be people too, but because going by the five-criteria of personhood, given by the philosopher Mary Anne Warren, in many ways animals actually are people too. To be a person one must meet at least two of the following criteria: “consciousness, self-awareness, has self-actuated motivation, the ability to reason (solve complex problems) and have the ability to communicate.”
Most animals are self-aware, some can solve complex problems, they can communicate, and they are conscious and have self- actuated motivation. Additionally, we have the same basic motivations. Such as, a need for love and belonging, a need for sex, a need for food, water and shelter, a need for safety and security, and finally a need to make the correct decisions. In a rat, that might mean choosing to walk along the phone line instead of crossing the busy street to get home safe. He is rewarded every time he makes it home and punished at every close call on the road. He learns to survive by rewards and punishments. Yet some animals experience much more out of this operant conditioning. A dog not only learns to survive in his master’s home, but also learns to play and receive love and affection. The dog has not merely survived, but actually achieved something some humans never do.
My point is this: if behavior is primarily geared toward making the correct decisions and moving toward achievement in all kinds of people, why do humans lie? What causes our behavior to differ from all other animals in that we tend to partake in a sort of anti-achievement behavior, by lying? Every human does it. What person would admit he or she farted in the elevator? You are the only one who acts like you didn’t do it, so of course, everyone knows it’s you. From then on, everyone calls you stinky and you are humiliated- the most common form of self-defeatism. To humiliate is “to reduce one’s dignity or pride to a lower position” (Webster’s Dictionary). Humans are the only species who do this to themselves. Carl Rogers would say no one can make you feel put down or make you feel like you don’t belong but you. You would never see a dog refuse a bowl of ice cream because he was afraid of gaining weight.
So, what is it, then? Why do we make these semi-automatic decisions that are in the opposite of our basic interests? Besides our language capability, what makes us different from other animals, so much so that we have to tell lies? We have social pressures like nobody on Earth! That’s what makes us different! We have to be smart, we have to be brave, we have to be funny, we have to be rich, we have to be beautiful and we have to face humiliation every day. But why do we have to feel humiliated therefore causing some humans to tell little white lies almost automatically, and almost daily. You wouldn’t see a dog lying to another dog about whether he had food on his nose or not. The other dog would just lick it off, with neither of the dogs feeling humiliated.
In most cases of the individual, whether or not the told and believed lies do damage to others is not as important, because ultimately, it is a self-defeating behavior that brings more harm to the self than anyone else involved. This is mostly due to what I call the spider web theory. It is when strings of inaccurate responses, become a burden on the mind as it is constantly working on untangling it. (Your brain naturally works to keep the lies straight without you getting caught, so to speak.) Most don’t admit they lie on a regular basis to themselves or anyone else. This is in itself a form of Pseudos. They think, if anything, the lying is a symptom or way to deal with all of their other problems. They don’t see lying as the root of them, so it continues.
And consciously or not, this constant burden on the mind causes people not to sleep well, causing stress and illness, they tend to be more forgetful and they misplace things more often. They, more importantly tend to lose the trust of friends more often. They don’t realize that the lying is the root of much of the unhappiness and stress in their lives. As Bandura reports, there is something called “TRIADIC RECIPROCAL DETERMINISM”, meaning the world and a person’s behavior cause each other. “People do not simply react to environmental events; they actively create their own environments and act to change them.” I hate to sound like an old fogy, but it really seems that with progress we have literally lost touch with what’s important in life. We’re all busy spinning and untangling our webs. Sooner or later those little individual webs are going to get tangled with each other and we’ll all be stuck in one huge web of frustration and confusion.
That huge tangled web of frustration and confusion is our cultural conscience out of control.
So, are we really “losing touch” as society becomes more modernized? Can we help it? Do we have the skills to choose to be honest, caring people? Well, that takes self-discipline which ironically is taught to us by someone else. (Typically, it’s our parents.) Now you’re saying, discipline? My parents? Ha! Let me just say, I’m with you. With the absence of discipline in general in our society we can clearly see the environment we are creating just by watching reality television. These people are freaks of nature… but then there are a lot of them.
Could it be as Karen Horney suggests? We envy justifiable qualities we find in our culture and we can’t help but feel anxious about achieving them. Perfect relationships, power, recognition and prestige. Or can we overcome, like Carl Rogers says? That no one can make us feel inferior except for ourselves?
It could also be that we all have Horney’s “neurotic needs” to some extent. All ten of them in fact. (And that’s Karen Horney’s neurotic needs not horny neurotic needs, for all you perverts out there.) I’d list them and their explanations here, but that’s a whole ‘nother book. The most important of which, to all of us, is that we never lose our status. Many will lie no matter what the cost in order to preserve this status. And this is where Homey and I agree.
Most of us are terrified of being humiliated. Some of us, to the point where it doesn’t even register that telling the truth would cause far less anxiety, than what we will later experience from the constant avoidance of such humiliation. Like I said before, our technology allows us to avoid this much easier almost completely, but as Bandura relays, the avoidance of such pain can lead to illness caused by stress or worse, could lead to psychopathology. In fact, George Kelly believes we don’t naturally respond to the environment truthfully in order to avoid pain, but to maximize our understanding of our accurate, true view of the world.
So, why do we complicate the world with silly little white lies? I theorize, that if we are feeling weak against the many pressures of the world, our judgment, in our process of Self-Regulation, becomes overridden by the “Cultural Conscience” and we respond in a behavior that pushes us almost automatically, in the way of making a response based on cultural and social influences. It’s like a defense mechanism, a filter in the preconscious mind, that other animals have no concept of, but that we use like instinct in order to avoid more social pressure.
I have a good friend who tried to make his point with this quote that something about how cuttlefish change their appearance to camouflage themselves from predators and are they lying because they do this? Let me just say that the people I’m talking about are so confused that if they were lying to do something so humble as protect themselves from predators their equivalent answer to disguising themselves would be pink camouflage and designer sunglasses. They want to be hidden but not “too hidden” if you know what I mean.