What’s wrong with lying in dating apps, resumes, and politics? A lot!

What’s wrong with lying in dating apps, resumes, and politics? A lot!

“My father always told me that what’s wrong with lying is that it’s an admission of weakness. If you’re the strongest, you can afford to tell the truth.”

K.J. Parker, British novelist

A few days ago, I stumbled upon some information that I’ve struggled to purge from my mind.

This information suggests that society cannot fully grasp what’s wrong with lying, especially when creating a fictitious version of oneself to appear more desirable in a given situation or circumstance.

In a 2023 survey by Bright Futures, 90% of online dating app users admitted to lying on their profiles. The most common lies were age, height, career and financial status, location, and appearance.

In a 2022 survey by LinkedIn, 72% of respondents admitted to lying on their resumes. The most common lies were about academics, years of experience, skillset, and previous job responsibilities.

Such forms of lying are prevalent today and, sadly, are entirely acceptable, and sometimes even expected, in our personal and professional lives.

But it’s not just dating apps and resumes where lying has become troublesome.

In an article in Psychology Today, Cortney Warren, a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), asks How Honest Are People on Social Media?

“The truth is that people tend to lie on these platforms,” says Warren. “First, people directly lie about their lives, which is often an effort to make themselves look more desirable or positive. Even more commonly, people “lie” by presenting an image of themselves and their lives that is imprecise or less than comprehensive, leading the viewer to believe falsehoods.” 

Warren concludes the article with a warning for social media users: “When engaging with social media, it is critical to remind yourself that what you see is not an accurate picture of reality. Don’t compare yourself to the images of friends, colleagues, or celebrities. Remind yourself that it is just a snapshot of their life—and one that they want you to see.”

I suppose this potential erosion of trust in our society shouldn’t be that surprising, given how politicians are plagued by an inability to discern truth from fiction and the notion that if you don’t like the facts of the story, you can fabricate another version you want.

In one of my posts from November of 2022, titled, Stochastic Terrorism is Nurtured by Extreme Politicians, I wrote:

“Today’s extreme politicians are taking this country down a dangerous and alarming path. One infested with conspiracy theories, misinformation, and smear campaigns, which continue to fan the flames of hate, viciousness, and divide in America.”

When the leaders of this great nation, who are only concerned with their personal political gains, can’t grasp what’s wrong with lying, that sends a dangerous message to their constituents, who have now developed a societal tolerance for dishonesty in our homes, businesses, and communities.

This societal tolerance for dishonesty raises profound ethical concerns for me. It forces me to question the transparency of the individuals we invite into our daily lives and hearts and the destruction of accountability and believability in our society.

When we truly cannot understand what’s wrong with lying, personally and professionally, humanity has lost whatever integrity it once possessed. Integrity is defined as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” 

It seems incomprehensible to me that esteeming someone with “soundness of moral character” is not at the core of what individuals and organizations crave today when engaging with others.

To see beyond the façade so many have created while hiding behind lies that will inevitably become more difficult to maintain and ultimately to defend.

How are ordinary, hardworking individuals who genuinely abide by the declarations of honesty and morality supposed to compete with exaggerated personas by individuals whose only concern is their advancement?

Moreover, why is it no longer imperative to expect and demand trustworthiness from every member of society regardless of status or condition?

My theory on why lying has increased so drastically can be found in adolescent and professional sporting fields, social media channels, movies and television shows, neighborhoods, and even our homes.

Our society is flooded with competitiveness, defining a person’s accomplishments and successes not solely on their merits but on their ranking as “the best” or “number one” overall. Anything less than the top spot is considered a failure.

This tremendous pressure for an unattainable goal with a very short shelf-life for one’s own happiness is driving anxiety and depression in teens as well as adults, and lying has become the coping mechanism for an individual’s shortcomings.

So, what does this teach our children, teenagers, and even young adults piloting the world on their own for the first time? That they should always be critical of themselves.

Suppose our society continues to be flooded with competitiveness in every facet of our lives. In that case, lying will continue to be routine to obscure our dissatisfaction with who we are, what we look like, and what we’ve achieved.

The result will be children, teenagers, and young adults being continually unaccepting of themselves, leading to even more cases of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bullying, and, sadly, suicide.

As Parker said at the start of this post, lying is “an admission of weakness.” When the weak refuse to accept the reality of their truths, they concoct a narrative of falsehoods that will be unsustainable and unauthentic over time, an effort that requires little courage to execute.

Remember, lies don’t stay hidden forever.

After masquerading as someone else on dating apps and social channels and meeting a potential partner face-to-face for the first time, the masquerade begins to crumble as you’re branded disingenuous.

As you begin a new job and rely on repetitive Google searches to conceal the lack of skills and abilities contained in your overstated resume, you’ll be branded a fraud by your current employer. In the business world, stories do manage to get around.

If you’re a politician whose platform to maintain a loyal following includes one disputed lie after another, they’d be wise to remember the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Those who tell lies long enough are often not believed when they actually tell the truth.

Alexander Pope once wrote, “He who tells a lie is not sensible of how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.”