Everybody lies. The statement "I never lie" is itself a lie, and anybody who tells you that is absolutely full of shit. And that's fine: lying is the oldest, most reliable way to hack life, to manipulate reality into the way you want it to be, as opposed to the way it is. The truth hurts, as they say, and the easiest way to avoid that hurt is to lie.
Everybody lies about different things though. Some tell big lies, some tell small lies, and some just insist that they genuinely understood the end of Interstellar. So to get a general, non-scientific sample of what people lie about, we approached a bunch of people around the streets of Melbourne and asked them.
Sam, 36, and Heidi, 23
VICE: Hey guys, what do you lie about?
Sam: Being far healthier than what I really am. Not that I’m unhealthy, but there’s definitely a playing down with like, how many cigarettes I would smoke on a night out.
When would you lie about that?
Sam: On dates… if they look particularly healthy. I would probably just leave the cigarettes out altogether. And then I might say I frequent the gym and like, maybe how much I love yoga.
Heidi: I always lie about where I’ve been the night before to my bosses. Meanwhile, I have extra clothes in my bag and make sure there’s somewhere I can have a shower before work…
How do you deal with hangovers at work?
Heidi: I use the classic “I feel really ill from the food I ate last night…” Then my bosses are impressed with my superb work ethic, meanwhile I’m texting a friend like “I AM GOING TO DIE.”
Are you hungover now?
Heidi: Yes. Are you?
Yes… I was going to lie just then!
Heidi: This is making us honest. Imagine if you spoke like this to people all day!
Hey Anthony. What do you lie about?
How deep are you talking? Like, big life lies? Or little white lies?
Let's start with a little white lie.
I frequently lie to my parents about my tattoos. My dad never remembers if he’s seen them before and will always ask if some are new. I’ll always tell him it’s 2-3 year old when in reality, I got it last weekend.
Classic. What’s a big life lie you’ve told?
I told people for years that I was in a “car accident,” but it was actually a suicide attempt. I ran in front of a car. I’ve only recently opened up about it to people.
Wow. What happened?
I mean, I’ve lived with pretty intense depression my whole life and I’ve been very self-destructive with a lot of my behaviour. When this “accident” occurred, I was 18 and in a particularly bad state which led to the suicide attempt. It left me with serious breaks to my leg, a whole lot of torn ligaments and a pretty intense knock to the head which has caused ongoing memory issues and difficulty exercising.
What spawned the car-accident cover story?
At the time, I was living in Eltham and a girl had been hit and killed in the same spot I was hit a year before. So, people (my parents included), assumed that I was just unlucky and had been hit in the same place. I fed the lie for years and years.
How many years?
Eight years, I think.
How are you doing now?
That’s a very good and interesting question. I’m better than I’ve been and worse than I’ve been. I’m working on it.
Heather Joan, 26
Hi Heather, what do you lie about?
I lie to men about being attracted to men.
So, you are attracted to men?
Yeah. Fully. I mean… I used to lie to myself about that actually. I think it was just I didn’t like guys who thought I was a guy. I like that guys treat me like a girl now. It’s really nice.
So when you’re into a guy, you tell them you’re not attracted to men?
Yeah. I would say something like “I don’t usually sleep with men.” I find that what works for me, with hitting on guys, is to make them feel really special. As though they could be the one to make me attracted to men.
So let me get this straight: you tell men that you don’t usually sleep with men, to make them feel special?
Yep. You got it.
Why do you feel the need to make them feel special?
I mean I think everyone needs to feel special. A guy that’s hitting on a trans girl is going out on a limb, even now. I think it’s scary for them. Boys love dicks, but are afraid of them.
Do you tell any little white lies ever?
I lie a lot about wanting to be healthy. I actually don’t want to be healthy.
With food, you mean?
Yeah and drugs. I haven’t done drugs since June. I tell people all the time “I haven’t done drugs since June, I’m not doing drugs again.” But I want to do drugs again.
Why do you lie about that?
I mean, if I lie about it people won’t offer it to me. I was pretty addicted in my early twenties. I smoked weed every day, and I used MDMA, speed, or coke at least once a week. Everyone around me was doing it too, it felt super casual and I was known for doing it. It’s hard to escape that. Now I just get high on oestrogen.
So, Tom, what do you most commonly lie about?
Here, I’ll give you an example: “How’s your day been?” “GREAT! You?” (Laughs). That’s customer service, all the time. You’re always having a great day, even when you’re not. You don’t want to burden people with your shit.
Can you think of a time when lying didn’t go well for you?
I like to think I am a good enough actor that people usually can’t tell. I mean a few customers have questioned me on my answer. But also, it’s in their best interest for me to be in a good mood.
Do you think that consistently saying you’re having a good day even when you’re not, is ultimately a positive thing?
Absolutely. I feel like it forces me to smile, which makes me feel better—even if I am, in fact, having a shit one.
Hi. What do you lie about?
I think what I lie about most is not knowing what someone’s talking about. You know, when someone is talking about a musician, or band, or movie that you’ve never heard of before but they assume you must know? I don’t like to acknowledge that I don’t know or I’m out of the loop so I just go along with it.
Has there ever been a time where you’ve pretended to know something that you don’t, and it’s been brought up in conversation again?
It definitely has. Luckily, I’m good at bullshitting. I think it’s a retail thing too. I work in a vintage store, and I’m constantly pulling things out of the air. I don’t usually get caught out.
Do you ever lie to customers? Like do you tell them things look good on them, when you don’t think they do?
I mean, I think you need to be honest about those things. But at the same time, you can gauge what a person is thinking and I think it’s more about supporting what they want you to think. If someone really likes something, even if you don’t think it suits them, you’re not going to tell them you hate it. People need back-up. I know I do.
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