What is a Lie ?

As a kid, my mom asked me one particular question a lot of times. The question was simple. Had I ever lied to her or to anyone. To which I coolly replied saying I had never. Had I really lied or was I narrating a story that happened in my head is what I decided to figure out.

I asked a few people around me if they had ever lied to anyone and It was not surprising to find that they all had at some point lied. Most of these incidents revolved around a particular situation which if not narrated in a story form would sound hopeless.

What is it about lies that we have this certain emotion attached making it almost a taboo ? What makes any one lie ? Before that, what is a lie ?

A lie could be any entity, that fools one. It could be a rock that pretends to have certain supernatural powers, the emotions that is generated when we see an actor die on screen, anything.

The problem is not that we hate lies, we hate being fooled by another person. Somewhere deep down we know very well that such a situation cannot occur but the confidence with which another person narrates it puts one in jeopardy thereby creating a situation which exists somewhere in-between a belief and a disbelief. A lie is not the absence of truth. It (could) exist(s) cause the truth is yet to be discovered.

Personally I believe we love lies. Fiction would not have been possible if one did not lie. And why is it that when a kid says it it’s a lie and when an author writes it magically manifests itself as a work of fiction. A friend of mine once told me that when a kid lies, it’s a sign that the mind is developing. And it seems quiet logical.

Another strange thing that happens all around us is that parents start lying to their kids very early in life. But yes, there is a mask called a “fairy tale” that is used as a cover up. Fairies, do they exist ? No they don’t but as kids we do believe they exist. Also mermaids and. Is a kid believing in the existence of a fairy the product of the parent lying to the kid ? Im not quiet sure about it.

We train the kid to start believing in what he imagines and when he narrates to us something that is a product of this imagination, we hate it.  We accuse the kid to have lied thus breaking his belief in his own imagination. What stops a parent to tell his or her kid real life stories ? Why not tell them about what’s really happening in this world they have (with no choice) decided to call “home”. Why is it that we prefer to tell them of a world that is purely fictional and thus a lie ?

Another classic case is that of cheating in exams. Coping from another persons paper. Not that I say it’s a good thing to do, but it is important to find out why a person does it. The whole idea of writing an exam is, looking at the present system, to get marks. It does not check how much a person has leant or how much he has applied his learning’s. It purely check if the student has read what was there in the text book and whether he can reproduce the same exact thing in a given time frame. In this case the student is copying what was written by some author in the text book using his memory as a buffer, and I find it difficult to see any difference between that and a student copying from a neighbors book. What the system seems to test is ones memory and the usage of memory is evident in both these cases.

More thought required. A discussion would help.

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5 Responses to What is a Lie ?

  1. dvg says:

    Very good example of exams, very true in present scenario.

  2. Angie says:

    A lie is a lie because of why it is said. I am all for imagination, but I would rather have my niece tell me she broke the jar if she did, than cook up a story to ‘cover it up’. It is this intention of saying something when she did something else that has caused her to ‘lie’.

    Another question would be interesting to discuss – What role do you think honesty plays in a child’s development?

    • notnarayanshankar says:

      Honesty does play an important role in a child’s development, but why is it that we find it necessary to lie to the kid early on ?

  3. Shills says:

    I would agree with Angie is saying that a lie can be distinguished from fiction purely by intention.

    But I do find the intention of the parent intriguing. I believe the child should have queries answered with honesty. Agreed that at the tender age, comprehending capacities are not at the best but I feel it brings about a complete development.

    Take cases of children watching porn secretly. I myself recently encountered 10 year old boys at it! They do it because they are also in search of the truth (not just about sex necessarily). If parents could talk about these things to children openly and not say fictitious stories, it makes a great difference in the way the child’s mind also grows. In the former case, it becomes an obscenity and it the latter a fact of life.

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