If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past.
If you tell a lie, it becomes a part of your future.
Did you ever ask yourselves what value honesty has for you in your lives? And which value honesty has in our society as a whole?
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like honesty is a trait that is dropping steadily in the ranking of virtues. Honestly, most of the time I feel I’m being lied to.
That’s a pretty uncomfortable state of affairs per se, but what’s even worse in my opinion is that no on seems to care. Along with truth, indignation seems to have left the stage as well.
We got used to being lied to, by Trump, Zuckerberg and, yes, influencers. Everyone talks about authenticity, but it often seems to me that it’s actually enough to convince yourself of whatever you claim is authentic, and the others will follow. It’s related to how Trump is raking in “victories” that ultimately know no winners. He’s the biggest role model of all when it comes to spin the truth, to tell a lie until people start believing that “there must be something too it”. Fortunately, there are journalists working for reputable newspapers who second-guess this state of affairs, who try to get to the bottom of facts and do their best to bring the truth to light.
But who is challenging all the small and not-so-small lies that form part of the noise of our daily lives?
In daily live, all too often, I let this noise, which emanates from Instagram, Pinterest, the radio, etc. lull me in. I don’t really look at the images before me anymore, don’t second-guess whether they reflect reality, whether those women really look like that, whether does people really live like that. I consume images and accept them as unchallenged reality. The same is true when it comes to the motives and agendas of people I meet day in day out: I just don’t question them all that much. And that in spite of the fact that I know exactly how the game works on the web: fake it, till you make it.
It’s all the same, whether the number of Instagram followers, the posted images or fake friendships. I’m less bothered with a retouched photo or the occasional staging of a perfect moment itself. What bothers me is the feeling such images transport. They make me feel inadequate, as if my life, as it is, were somehow not enough. I don’t really want to think about all the times I’m being lied to on any given day. And you know what? Most of the time I really don’t. And that’s exactly the problem.
But why? How did we get here? We probably don’t second-guess the illusions surrounding us because we feel too busy. Let’s be honest: when do we really have the time to openly and honestly engage with the truth?
Way too often, we take external impulses at face value, accept the information we are presented with as truth, and immediately turn to the next impulse. In order to second-guess information, we first need to process information. And, with increasing frequency, we are not able to do just that. As soon as one impulse registers, the next already claims attention. While we’re somewhere else in our thoughts, as usual, we automatically react to the incentive and impulses trickling down on us. One result is that we no longer perceive the world as intensely as we used to. When did you last take a metro trip without looking at your phone. The degradation of our critical and perceptive faculties seems to be the price we’re paying for the acceleration of our lives.
It’s possible that we no longer react upset about lies because we have lost our sensitivity to them in the constant onslaught of falsehoods.
Are we willing to leave our comfort zone in exchange for truth, though?
Ask yourself: would you always opt for an inconvenient truth over a comfortable lie? And if so, are you willing to be truly honest with yourself?
There’s no point in discussing honesty if we don’t start with ourselves.
How often are we able and willing to accept our failures and even our successes? Who would happily admit to themselves they show traits of envy, egoism, arrogance or belligerence? Who considers positive traits like helpfulness, loyalty or integrity as the most important character aspects, the facets of ourselves that truly distinguish us in life? Who really has a realistic, honest idea of their current selves?