“Oh, I didn’t see that you had called,” “I swear I went to all my classes this week” or in true Bill Clinton style, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” White lies spew from the mouths of those that surround us, and, let’s not lie, our own as well.
At Miami University, students find themselves constantly wrapped up in more white lies than you might assume. Think about it – that e-mail you sent your teacher asking for help on an assignment because “you didn’t understand it,” is really code for, “I blew it off.” Waking up and telling the person you find next to you that “you never do this kind of thing” translates to, “wow, I got way too drunk last night.” And, my favorite, the aforementioned conversation with the parents (the “I swear I went to all my classes this week”), really means, “I’m throwing away your tuition money.” If the former president of the United States can lie to the entire nation, what’s so wrong with the occasional fib?
White lies are meant to spare people’s feelings, and usually benefit the person uttering them. For example, telling your old roommates you can’t meet them for lunch tomorrow because you have a huge test that you have to cram for not only supplies them with a legitimate, plausible excuse sparing them any hurt, but it also saves you an hour of sitting awkwardly in King Café pretending you’re still best friends. Instead you can take that hour and do something you actually enjoy doing; and, the best part, your old roommate is none the wiser.
Some people may be appalled by this scenario, but let’s be real: everyone is guilty of telling a white lie at some point. It does not matter the magnitude or the reason, a lie is a lie, white or not. The problems that arise when it comes to white lies appear when the recipient of the lie finds out the truth. Tragically, sometimes white lies backfire, resulting in the teller looking like an idiot or extremely inconsiderate. This is the risk you take every time you allow falsehoods to flow from your lips.
The thing is, the more you lie, the better you get at it. Sure this entails having to keep track of what’s a lie and what’s the truth, which can be incredibly exhausting, but that comes with the territory; and people willingly do it everyday. Ironically, those little white lies that fester in your mouth until you spit them out create a gray area in your mind.
So, white lies simply boil down to a gray area, which isn’t really so simple. Some situations call for them, whether for personal, selfish reasons or to spare another person from hurt or humiliation. Sometimes people would rather not know the truth anyway. I still like to think my dog is living on some glorious farm surrounded by Beggin’ Strips. Whatever the reason, or the circumstances, white lies are a part of society; and that’s the truth.