The Art of the Lie

Lies. They’re all about us, and everybody does it. Any one who says they don’t, is lying. Here’s the thing, though: most people are the suck when it comes to telling lies. They tell stupid lies, they lie at stupid times, they telegraph their lies, and they waste them.

Lies are a gift from God himself; part and parcel of that “freewill” and love he claims (the biggest lie of all) to have given us. As a holy gift, it behoves us not to take our lies lightly, to squander them on trivial matters like if we pissed on the toilet seat, or put the milkjug back in the fridge empty. Take your lies seriously, treat them like gold, and put some work into them, and they will be your faithful servants, your true friends, your chance at salvation and redemption. Take them lightly, use them out and up, and they will turn on you faster than that ex you gave the clap to. I am going to tell you how best to lie, when to lie, the types of lies, and how to do it without actually lying.

First, the types of lies. Forget that “little white lie” crap. A lie is a lie. No matter the magnitude, they are dishonest, and, oddly, even though everybody does it, nobody like being on the receiving end of. No, lies are typed by their style. There are lies of misdirection, omission, ambiguity, and misleading lies. There are lies of misinformation, and there are bald-faced lies.

An ambiguous lie is one where you, the liar, give a statement that can be taken several ways, and context is used to shade the meaning in such a way that your ass is covered. It can be complicated to deliver properly, as you sometimes might need to set up the context days before you utter the magic words. The ambiguous lie works best when the target wants to believe you, and is willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Misleading lies are quite common, and most often used when blame can be shifted. They rely on blaming others, or circumstances. They work best when you can claim a pure motive, or blame yourself for misunderstanding a situation. A misleading lie is not about denying an event, but, instead, denying your intent to engineer said event. A good tactic is to find a scapegoat, somebody who (likely) quite innocently gave you a loophole or excuse to do what you did. Blaming them for giving you false information works like a charm; particularly if you have the foresight to phrase your lie in such a way as to not blame the other person. By claiming to not be trying to shift blame, you make the third party sympathetic, and an ally, willing to take part of the heat, convinced that, somehow, they DO share the blame. These lies are most commonly encountered at the workplace, or among family members.

Lies of omission are sweet. While, technically not lies, the intent is there, and so I’ve included them. These beauties are best suited to malicious purposes, not defence. By simply not including all the facts, you can manipulate others into carrying out actions they normally would shy away from. Getting somebody to take the risky steps is useful; as is being able to leave out crucial facts to win support for your own agenda. Investment bankers, big brothers, and Presidents are quite fond of these lies.

Misdirection seems to be the same as misleading, and maybe it is, but I feel that there is a certain kind of lie that is well-described by this word, and doesn’t fit into the other categories. It is a hard lie to pull off, and requires great skills, and the balls of a bull elephant; because to tell this lie, you must actually admit to the truth. That’s right, blatantly admit to your guilt... but project all the signs of a blatant bald-faced liar. The times for this lie are rare, so very, very, rare, but oh so satisfying to succeed at. You use it when you are accused of something so heinous, yet cool, that there is a distinct possibility that, while your honesty will be forever questioned, you reputation as somebody cool, or hard-core, will be etched in stone. By telling the truth, and acting like a liar, people will think you are trying to cop a credit you have no right to, and dismiss you as a poser. This opportunity often arises if you have been banging your wife’s sister, or boss’s daughter, or stole vast amounts of drugs from a local crime lord. Be careful, if you forget to act shifty whilst admitting guilt, you will take it up the ass.

Now, as the shifty little guy in “The Princess Bride” said, everybody has a list of mannerisms, or pantomimes, they use when lying, and lots of enemies have made a point of publishing articles on what the standard ones are. So there are people who will watch to see if you look away while speaking, or fidget, or pause too long in replying; you, as a liar, must train yourself to not do these things, and to study yourself to see what twitches you have of your own. There’s no point in asking your friends what little mannerisms you have when lying... the smart ones sure as hell aren’t going to tell you, and the gullible ones might just clue in that you have lied to them in the past. However, there is a way around giving away these clues.

Our old friend, George Costanza, from “Seinfeld”, spoke true words of wisdom on night, “It’s not a lie, if you believe it”. If you can convince yourself that you are telling the truth, you won’t act the liar. But George was merely a talented amateur, a one trick pony. Forcing yourself to believe you are telling the truth can work, but it can also get you locked up for being delusional, and requires an awful lot of work. No, a better technique relies upon the knowledge that black and white seldom really exist, that communication and truth are about shades of grey. In nearly every circumstance requiring a lie, there is often a fragment of your statement that is true, or a shard of the event that you don’t have to fear being out in the open. The sign of a true master is the ability to include this element in the lie, and hold tight to it in your heart of hearts, because it is the truth. Then, as you tell the lie, but remember the truth, you are able to be sincere, to project that open honest face that will melt people’s anger and suspicion, and keep you out of prison. All the best (and by that, I mean those who manage to stay in office without military backing) world leaders use this technique.

Now, finally, the most important part of lying: knowing when to lie. As earlier stated, lies are to be looked at as precious gifts, not to be squandered foolishly like a cash inheritance upon drinks for strangers. When your husband comes home to find you being bent over the kitchen table by the cable guy, and mutters in a broken voice “You’re cheating on me”, don’t even bother to deny it. It’s pointless. (This would be a time for reversing the blame, but that is a whole other lesson, dear reader) When the possible consequences are trivial, like whether or not you ate the last twinkie, don’t lie. Having to go to the 7-11 at midnight is not worth lying to avoid. Lie when the punishment is going to be vast and terrible, like when you pissed in Fat Tony’s soup...but no one saw you do it. Lies are fragile things, and witnesses are the bane of every liar. Which reminds me - lying on the internet is pointless. Hey, it’s all there in writing, stored forever (unless you can meltdown the server), and most people on the ‘net are anal enough to search for all the relevant information to prove they are right, and you are not. Never, ever, ever, lie when the truth exists as hard copy. The only thing that can save you then is being the President of the United States of America and a full cadre of advisors who will take the fall (in Canada, you must rely on the new Prime Minister passing a law to cover your ass, because he plans on some shady deals himself, later). Lie when your life is in danger, when there is money at stake, or when the truth will earn you the hatred of your peers.

In closing, studying politicians and captains of industry will aid you greatly in seeing what kind of lies you can tell, and how to tell them. It’s an easy to find resource, and a good guide to seeing what kinds of lies people will accept simply because it allows them to save face. Remember: nobody likes to look like a fool, so if your lie allows them to save face, and the truth would make them look nearly as bad as you, the accused, they will become your willing accomplice.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...