I don’t lie. About anything.
I’m not saying that as some sort of braggery. In fact, one of the things I’ve been rethinking lately is the value of a well-crafted little white lie. Deceit, though morally questionable, is such a prevalent portion of our daily interactions that I honestly think I might get along better in this world if it would occur to me to lie occasionally.
“But don’t you think District 9 is a great movie?”
“No. I think it’s stupid.”
That’s actually how conversations with me can go, and, until this month, I didn’t see why that bothered anyone. I thought it was endearing. Another person’s hatred of my favorite movie doesn’t diminish my experience of the movie, so it really wouldn’t bother me if I had a reversed role in the conversation above. I may be bothered that my friend didn’t share the experience I had with the movie. I may even feel sad that my friend missed out. I may try to show her some of the great things she missed… but I’d never feel insulted that she had a different opinion from mine. Other people, I’m realizing, do feel insulted.
Considering that conversation and all the other conversations it represents, along with the people who don’t like me and occasions that have given me trouble in my life, I realize almost all of them could have been alleviated or avoided altogether with the skilled application of a few little white lies.
If I could just say that I’m busy when I’m not, then no one would get upset with me for choosing to sit at home rather than choosing to hang out with them.
I bring this up because I’ve been listening to a podcast that showed me how unusual my honesty actually is. The podcast is called Serial, and it’s the only thing my roommate has ever recommended to me. She occasionally tells me she thinks I might like this or that, but it was different with Serial. It was more like, “You need to listen to this. Your life is suffering from the absence of this amazing podcast.”
Not being a listener of much of anything – audio books, NPR, podcasts… just about the only thing I’ll listen to is sermons, and I’m not particularly consistent with those – so, not being a listener of much of anything, I didn’t run out and find the thing right away. However, I wish I had.
Serial is a twelve episode account of a real-life murder mystery. Fifteen years ago, Adnan Syed was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. He is now serving a life sentence, although he maintains his innocence.
You should listen to the podcast.
Of course, there’s a sexiness to it, what, with murder, drug use, lies, and sex. Also, it’s a great time in the market for this podcast because everyone watches crime shows. In our house, it’s Castle and The Mentalist right now, but we’ve gone through everything from J-A-G to Serlock.
Serial, however, is better than all of those. It gets at a ton of the questions of human behavior. My obsession with it is the lies. Someone is clearly lying in the case, because Adnan says he didn’t do it, but the key witness says he did. There are also other lies, in which people are caught, but lots of those lies get dismissed as little white lies that don’t matter all that much. This fascinates me. As someone who doesn’t lie, I also never really suspect others of lying, and it would severely shake my trust in someone if I caught him in any lie.
I’m realizing, through listening to this podcast, that other people don’t take lies as seriously as I do. They act like some lies are natural to tell and hardly even count as lies, which gets me thinking: That’s why _______ doesn’t like me; she expected me to lie, and I didn’t. She took my honesty as blunt and insulting. You may think I’m exaggerating when I write this down as a significant epiphany… but then you’d be assuming that I exaggerate such things. I truly did not have any inkling of why anyone would dislike the things I say.
Beyond my own focus with the podcast, there is so much to think about… when Kendra and I talk about Serial, we key in on very different information. She’s not so interested in the lies as she is in the prospect of life in prison. She thinks about the injustice of wrongful imprisonment and she wonders how Adnan could even cope with it (if he is innocent). She also talks about how strange memory is. When those involved are questioned by police, Kendra keys in on how hard it would be to remember. Adnan’s conviction rests solely on his inability to account for a twenty-one minute window of time that he didn’t know was going to be important. In fact, he didn’t realize he was a suspect until something like six weeks after the day in question. Also, the girl’s body didn’t turn up immediately, so he says he just thought she was going to show up in a day or two. He says he had no reason to remember what he was doing for twenty-one minutes on a day when he didn’t even know his ex-girlfriend was in trouble.
Point: this podcast grips you. You should listen to it because the lies might not be your thing, and you may not delve into the depths of sixteen-years-in-prison, but there is something there for you. I promise. It’s a gripping piece of journalism. It has an excellent soundtrack. If ever there was a podcast to hook you, Serial is it.