We’ve all done it: You’re telling a story and you exaggerate something, or even invent a “fact”, for dramatic effect. Later, someone tells the story to someone else, who then comes to you about the story. And, for a millisecond, you have no idea what they are talking about, until you remember your embellished tale. From that moment on you are locked within the tale the way that you told it, lies and all.
There is a film entitled “Con Man” about James Hogue who wrangled himself into Princeton under the assumed name of Alexi Santana who invented a whole history for himself, none of it true. One day he and his lies were found out, he was expelled from Princeton, and effectively disappeared for some years before the documentary-maker managed to track him down. The thing is that James/Alexi did the same thing in High School, inventing a persona and a history for himself, passing himself off as a teen when in fact he was 28. He was an exceptional track star, got A’s and B’s in course work, so why were these abilities not enough for him to bask in? In the documentary James/Alexi seemed to not be able to explain why he persisted in living out such elaborate and convoluted lies.
Sometimes the only thing true about that “little white lie” that we tell is that it is a lie; lies, if indulged in, can be as addictive as heroin and can proliferate in such a way as to take control of one’s life out of one’s hands. You tell a lie and then another lie to support the first lie as the truth, and then another to support the first two, until you’re trapped within the false story that you have spun. And the lies can never be exposed as lies lest they be discovered as lies and you as a liar, meaning that no one can or will trust you or anything that you say.
Where is the line over which an exaggeration passes and becomes a lie? Just think of the energy spent in trying to keep the exaggeration from being discovered as a lie! Just think of the growing anxiety about possibly slipping up and being discovered as a liar! Just think of never being able to let anyone get too close lest they discover your secret! Are lies… either little or large, white or otherwise… really worth it?