Liars R Us
Liars gonna lie. That’s what we do. I, having been known to tell a lie from time to time, quite understand the temptation and the reality. What is harder for me to understand is why lying is so effective, why it is that we are so susceptible to believing lies. I believe one reason we are lied to so often is because lying works. What I don’t get is why it works, especially after we have been lied to so often.
The internet seems to attract liars. I understand, for instance, that sundry north African countries are having a hard time getting anyone to serve as oil minister. These poor guys seem to die every other day. And wouldn’t you think, with all the care they take to leave millions for their wives, that they would have found a way to actually get those millions home without needing my help? In like manner were I you I’d sell any Apple stock you might be holding. Sure their products are great, but their business plan is just crazy. Apparently, based on the pop-ups I keep seeing (or would if I used a pc) they think they can make a killing by giving away their phones, pads and laptops, you know, if you’re lucky enough to win.
Direct mail, however, however outdated it might seem to be, hasn’t given up either. Yesterday I received in the mail an official looking envelope from Motor Vehicle Services. In blaring red letters I was warned that this was my last notice. Were my tags expired? Was I past due for an inspection? The other thing I noticed on the envelope was that it was sent presorted. That is, cheaply. It was direct mail. Turns our Motor Vehicle Services isn’t after all a government agency. It’s a private business offering warranties on cars.
I remember the same basic trick being played on my by a Christian ministry. This envelope was oversized with snazzy red stripes, and a profile of an eagle. It said EXPRESS DELIVERY, and DATED MATERIAL on the front. It too, however, confessed to being direct mail by the pre-sorted sticker in the corner. It was an appeal for donations.
As I said, I understand that people lie. But why would that work? Who would trust any promise from any business that started the whole business relationship with a lie? “I know I just tricked you into opening this envelope, but now I want you to trust me on this warranty deal. You’re going to love it.” Who would make a donation to a ministry that introduces themselves to you with a lie? “We lied to you about this being an overnight package. But we will take good care of any money you send us for this worthy project. Honest we will.”
The sad truth is not just that we lie, but that we accept lying. We are not put off by it, nor are we driven to a fitting skepticism. We take the view that if a business isn’t lying to us it isn’t really trying. The sad truth is that we have lost the capacity to blush when we lie and lost the capacity to object when we are lied to. We have no shame and we have no dignity. And that friends, is the truth.