The lies we tell

September 22, 2009 § 1 Comment

I worked a gig today that had a big band orchestra that played old time swing music.  They had a lot of eclectic instruments and machines with them, giving them a unique flair.  One of the coolest things they had was an old wax cylinder recording machine and its playback counterpart.  At one point during the show they actually used the machine to make an real wax cylinder recording.  When the band was done, the technician took the cylinder off the recording machine and put it on the playback machine.  They played the recording and it sounded awesome.  The audience was impressed.  I mean, taking an large orchestra like that, with a live audience and cutting a perfect wax recording in one take is down right amazing.

But, I knew something the audience didn’t know.  I knew that during rehearsal just a few hours earlier they had played and recorded this song 7 or 8 times until they got a take that they liked.   Then during the show they had simply used the best recording from rehearsal. It was a clever deception.  The audience was close enough that they could see the wax being etched by the needle bouncing across its surface.   So they knew a recording had been made.   But when the technician switched from the recorder to the playback machine, he was able to swap cylinders without he audience noticing.

I suppose it was a harmless enough ruse.  No-one got hurt or anything.  And if the truth were to come out I doubt if anyone would be bothered by it.  Some might even appreciate the lie as a necessary part of presenting a flawless entertainment experience.  A little white lie.  Harmless enough.

But it got me thinking; what about the lies we tell?  What ‘little white lies’ do we tell and how do we justify them?  How often have you said you were saved to an instance when you weren’t simply because you didn’t feel like running with the person who asked?  When someone asks what your dps is, what number do you give?  Raid buffed?  5man buffed?  Unbuffed?  Have you ever logged off in one set gear to make yourself look attractive to a potential new guild as a tank/dps/healer when you know full well you don’t have any intention of filling that role, but a different role?

How do you justify it?  “I don’t want to run with that person because I don’t think they are good enough, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”  “Everyone gives their highest dps number, and besides I’ll always have x,y,z buff, so it’s the most accurate number.”  “I stand a better chance getting in if I apply as a tank/dps/healer.  Once I’m in I can still do that and then I can switch to the role I actually want.”

Now I’m not out to judge anyone.  Not outright anyway.  And I’m not saying one lie or justification is better than any other.  All I’m pointing out is, no matter what we tell ourselves or how we try to shade things, a lie is, a lie, is a lie.  And in each of the cases justification can be given even for the justification.   And you know, who’s to say that wanting to spare someone’s feelings isn’t a noble goal?  But good intentions don’t wipe away lies.  In fact, there’s a well known road that’s paved in good intentions, but I don’t think anyone actually wants to end up at that roads’ destination.  Yeah, if you tell that person you don’t think they are good enough to run with, you most certainly will hurt their feelings.  But, if you are honest as well as kind there is potential for you both to grow.  Maybe all they need is a little encouragement and a little nudge in the right direction to become an awesome player.

Every at some point will tell a lie.  Be it a lie of omission, an exaggeration, a downright deceit, or to protect someone–it’s a lie.  But maybe we don’t need to be lying to each other so much.  Or at all.  Even when it seems harmless or for the greater good or like it doesn’t matter because it’s just an online game not real life.  But I’m a strong believer that the golden rule still applies online just as much in real life.  And by acting like decent human beings we aren’t just improving ourselves.  We are elevating the entire human race.  And the gnomish race too.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”

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