May 10, 2013

Truth Performing

Last night, we flipped through TED Talks on Netflix and chose to watch one about Lie Spotting. Pamela Meyers spoke to an international audience about our deep ambivalence toward the truth. Some of the statistics she cited were staggering:

- For married couples, we lie to our spouse 1 out of every 10 encounters.
- For unmarried couples, we lie 1 out of every 3 encounters.
- We are more likely to lie to strangers than we are to co-workers.
- Men lie more about themselves.
- Women lie more about other people or to protect other people.

One study found that over a one-week period, lies were detected in
- 37% of phone calls
- 27 % of face to face meetings
- 21% of IM chats
-14% of email

Watching her speak, both of us were riveted. I'm interested in reading her book to understand more. When the speech was over (and the obscenely-loud end noise of the TED series had sounded its shock wave), we talked for many minutes.

I consider myself a truth-teller. I am passionate about truth. I try to be honest, even in casual settings like a "How are you doing?" query.

Hearing Meyers made me look at myself in a new light.

I learned early on in school that simply being me was likely to bring stares. Performing on purpose to solicit attention didn't bother me as much as getting attention by just being me. I investigated my empathy through trying on different moods, personae, and mindsets like they were new skins.

As I got older, I got better at shaping 'me' instead of being me. Even today, I restrain or reshape opinions, thoughts, and actions based on how I read any given 'audience'. -Not all of this is bad, mind you; courtesy and self-control are necessary to function in community! It only becomes a problem when I don't have places to simply be myself instead of thinking about what form 'me' should take.

I do think I'm passionate about truth. I think it is more accurate to say I try to figure out how much truth (sometimes very little) and what shape will fit in a given situation: a truth performer rather than a truth teller.

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