Home > Musings > This blog is mostly lies

This blog is mostly lies

NASA denies space mice

Though few will admit it, people enjoy lies. Deception has many purposes, but the most innocuous, and possibly the most celebrated, is its use as a motivator. Lies are unparalleled in their ability to get things done, to get people onboard with your plan and motivated to do something. Would Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have risked their lives in the Apollo 11 mission if they hadn’t been told that the moon was made of cheese? Probably not, and it’s pretty telling that we haven’t sent men back to the moon once we learned that it was just rock.

Following is an excerpt of a transcript of communications during the Apollo 11 mission:

NASA Tower: Just rock? Are you sure it’s not cheese? Maybe Gouda or Limburger?
Armstrong: Negative, Houston. It’s definitely rock.
NASA: Well, hell, we have rock here. Alright, come on back. Are you sure it’s not Gruyere?
Armstrong: Affirmative. Definitely not Gruyere.
NASA: Okay, the mission is over. Come on back home.
Armstrong: What do you want us to do with the space mice? The ones we brought to test whether the moon cheese was edible.
NASA: I don’t know anything about space mice, and neither do you. Do I make myself clear?

Perhaps no one is lied to for motivational purposes more than children. We tell them to be good or Santa won’t bring them toys, despite the fact that any kid who honestly appraises his behavior will logically conclude that he is on the “naughty” list.

“Now behave, little Johhny. Santa knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice.”
“He does? He knows that I stole a dollar from your desk? He knows that it was me who wrote on the wall? He knows I took part in a conspiracy to hide Justin Bieber’s identity as a Russian spy? He knows that I lied to you about all of that?”
“Yes, Santa knows everything.”
“Then I’m fucked.”
“Santa doesn’t like that language, either.”

We tell children stories about walking ten miles in the snow to get to school to help them appreciate their education. In reality, a better way of making them appreciate their education would be reforming our public schools so they would actually learn something. The biggest lie of all, though, is told by every guidance counselor and most parents and teachers: You can be whatever you want to be.

Any student who hears that from a guidance counselor should immediately see through the lie, due to the fact that no one has ever said “my dream is to be a guidance counselor.” We don’t all get to be what we want to be; in fact, most people don’t get to. Life is a series of letdowns and disappointments and telling that lie only delays the inevitable: the discovery that most of us will not accomplish all we wanted in life. There’s no shame in failing to reach your goals, but the lie attempts to shield us from that harsh reality.

We don’t stop using lies as motivation when we get older, though. Whether it’s the confidence given to women by underwire or to guys by Just for Men hair dye, lying about our physical appearance makes us happier, more popular and more successful.

Our clothes even lie to us to make us happier. Men’s jeans are sized by the inches of our waist. However, I dated a girl who wore a size zero, so I have a feeling their clothes are sized a little differently. Why? Because smaller numbers make them feel better about themselves. “What? My waist isn’t 33 inches! I wear a size 12! That’s much smaller!” And then there’s Spanx. The butt of many Tina Fey jokes, Spanx are such a big lie from our clothing to us (and others) that they almost deserve their own blog. For that matter, why do my suits have shoulder pads? I’m quite comfortable with my shoulders the size they are. If Brooks Brothers really wants to help me out, can they work some nice pecs into the front of the suit?

Speaking of clothes, fashion designers constantly lie to the public to convince them to go shopping. They convince you that what you have is out of style and you need to buy the new thing, no matter how stupid it looks. Somehow, they convinced millions of women that capri pants don’t make their legs look shorter and their asses look wider. I have a theory that capri pants were invented by a man who was worried that his wife would cheat on him. He then designed and made her wear pants that made her look so bad, no man tried to hook up with her.

Good leggings example

And then there’s spandex. Leggings have made a comeback recently and I’m all for it, but there’s something you need to know about that particular type of fabric. People have convinced themselves that spandex hides flaws, but that’s only partly true. If you are slightly overweight, they do a great job at compressing your flab and making your body look tighter than it actually is. However, if you are obese, it does exactly the opposite. It highlights every inch of every part of your body that would be better unseen. Therefore, if you are in good shape, I wholeheartedly support your decision to wear spandex leggings, but if you’re a big girl, I suggest instead wearing sweat pants or a hijab.

Men do no better, though. People have lied and convinced themselves that “wife beater” undershirts make them look cool or tough. They do neither. How people managed to convince themselves of that despite the nickname of the shirt is amazing. We call them “wife beaters!” Exactly what about that seems cool? As a general rule of thumb, if a type of clothing is most common in mug shots, it’s probably not the best fashion statement. And yes, that includes creepy mustaches.

The lies aren’t only directed at other people. We also love to lie to ourselves. I’m constantly telling myself lies to motivate myself and make me feel better. I tell myself things like “that shirt looks good on you, your singing sounds great in the shower,” and “I’m sure she gave you the wrong phone number by accident.”

I even lied to myself about this blog, telling myself before I started writing that it was going to be a humorous satire on the social construct of lying. Instead, it has been mostly rambling, but I’ll lie to myself and say that’s what my readers want. I’ll also lie by saying that I have readers. Maybe even fans…

No, I won’t go that far. The lie has to be believable or it does no good. I can tell women at the bar that I’m rich because I invented the bendy straw, but once they see my apartment they’ll know I made it up. Instead, I can come up with a smaller, more believable lie, such as introducing myself as a music critic. While it’s true that I’m a music critic, that’s not my full-time day job. It sounds cooler than describing my real job, though. In any case, I never say that I’m a “writer,” because people assume that’s code for “I’m unemployed but I like to write in a stupid blog that nobody reads.” Only half of that is true.

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  1. July 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I don’t like telling people I’m a writer because they immediately assume one of two things: 1. That I have a book and I don’t; or 2. That I don’t do anything special, that I refused to grow up because everyone can be a writer. …I think I have a post there. People seem to think being a writer is a lot cooler than it actually is.

    I know what your day job is! :-p

    Anyway, satire or musings, this is vintage your voice and I like it. I’m a reader. I like it either way because it’s your voice that’s entertaining. No lie. But I’m not going to call myself a fan. 1. I don’t to be a fan before you have fans because that would make me cool, and 2. Being a fan is too “in.”

    • July 8, 2011 at 11:45 am

      Oh, come on! You can be a hipster fan. As soon as other people start to hear of my writing, tell everyone that you were reading me way before they were. And then as soon as I become popular, tell people that I’m a sellout and used to be so much better. :p

      Those are two other good reasons not to tell people you’re a writer. I didn’t even think of the second one.

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