In our society, lying is perceived with distaste. The idea of being called a liar brings shame to you, and people pride themselves on always being honest and telling the truth. Despite this, do we truly value honesty above the convenience which lying presents? The reality of the situation is that lying is a fundamental aspect of our lives. In a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts in 2002, it was found that 60% of people could not go 10 minutes without lying in some way (Benjamin). This is indicative of the lives we lead and the methods we use to survive and prosper within our world.
Lying is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “[making] a false statement with the intention to deceive” (Murray et al.). An important aspect of determining the importance of something is setting up the parameters in which it exists. By dictionary definition, the act of lying does not encompass many acts of deception. Deception is typically viewed as withholding the truth or leading another person to believe something which is untrue. This is an important distinction to make, as deception is considered lying by some, and not by others. For comprehensions sake of what lying truly is, we will count deception as being separate from lying.
In our everyday lives, how necessary is lying? Do we need to tell falsities in order to prosper in our everyday world? To truly answer this, we must see the foundation lies set within our lives. In a study conducted by Michigan State University, only around 44% of adult males admitted to lying on a daily basis, and of those only around 22% admitted to lying more than once a day. With human denial causing such a skew in possible data, it is difficult to determine the actual average rate of lies told by the average person. However, there are several hypothetical situations observed by psychologists to help determine what would happen to the world if people were incapable of lying. It is agreed on by many that if lying was impossible, people would start to restrict their actions to only things they would admit to doing, minimizing need for conflict (Cain). In addition to actions taken, 11% of people lie to their significant others more than to anyone else (Lea). If lying provides such a substantial basis for human relationships, how would we function without the ability to deceive others? The effects of a world without lies could be disastrous. People often lie when interviewing for jobs and other important positions. Politicians are known to withhold the truth from the public in order to gain more favor, and even parents and teachers can be known to deceive in order to get their way, or convince a child to believe something. Overall, lying has become fundamental to our nature as humans, and the basis of our lives being so reliant on the ability to lie, it is unlikely we could change our nature.
Despite the evident hold lying has over humanity, is it truly necessary to us? On a basic level, humans do not need to lie, however, is our society too deep-rooted with such deceptions that it would be impossible for us to adjust to life without it? Overall, we rely on lies for many aspects of our lives, but despite this, we do not need them. Perhaps lies are holding us back from a society that is more equal and full of opportunities for all. Without being able to lie, theoretically, we would take on jobs and responsibilities more suited to us, and by doing so, we would leave jobs normally filled by someone with poor intentions, to those who have a more suitable mindset for it. On the other hand, without lies, humanity’s progress could stagger. Without such a great asset to us, human relationships could fall apart. This could lead to great disagreements between people, causing a halt in progress. The human ego would take everything personally in the lie-free world. This could lead to an increase in petty feuds, or even catastrophic international incidents. It would be a difficult adjustment, so could humanity set itself up to prosper in a world without lies?
To maintain the kind of society we live in today, it would be unlikely, if not impossible to go without lying. Lying is essential to our nature. However, despite this, if we adjust our society and our lives to living in a lie-free world, we could thrive. The ability to live in such an honest world could lead to prosperity. However, the way that we currently live our lives and determine the value which we place on items, lying is one of the most fundamental skills that we require, and we could not continue living the way we do without the ability to lie. Is lying necessary to humanity? In short, no. People could thrive without lies holding them back. However, we need lying to maintain the society we have built up. We, as humans, have put lies in such an important position, a world without them would be unrecognizable.