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Little White Lies
|by Smitha Chakravarthula|
How often have you glossed over the reason for returning home late or how many times have you 'approximated" the marks in your grade sheet. Once, twice, a dozen times? If you think it over carefully and scrupulously, you would find that you soon lose count of the number of times you did this even in a single year. The reasons may vary but the means resorted to are the same. The modus operandi is common so as to say. This 'phenomenon' is referred to in a variety of ways, from a blatant 'lie' to more euphemistic 'tactful reply' or 'diplomatic answer'.
Ignorance is bliss" is a popular and common proverb referred to by the people who resort to these "little white lies" to avoid hurting someone's feelings or to escape from undesirable or unpleasant situations.
A honorable act, it has many factors to commend it. You save someone sorrow, effectively shielding them from the darker side of life. It qualifies as a very noble act of protecting someone and keeping them in a constant state of "contentment". As Uncle Fred would say, it is an effective tool in spreading "sunshine and sweetness" all around. You endeavor to keep someone happy. After all what they don't know doesn't hurt them. Often enough, such fibs are harmless and trivial. After all what do you gain by telling Swetha that her new haircut looks awful or that Shreya's vocal chords could put a donkey to shame? Little white lies or to put it in better words 'tactful' replies could save someone's feelings and prevent them from having to face bitter truths.
One important point to be considered is the after effects or repercussions of the act. How important is it that you lie and what would be the impact of the lie? It is okay to resort to a little untruth on minor occasions like say, hiding the fact that Linda's boyfriend was seen out with another girl at a restaurant when she was away. On the other hand if it was known that he was cheating on her, the whole issue takes a new light. Is it really beneficial to Linda to 'not know' now? In other words would ignorance really be bliss in such a case. This question becomes increasingly difficult to answer as the enormity of the fact glossed over increases. A tactful attempt to save a person from a few moments of hurt might lead to them being saddled to a lifetime of joy. Continuing with our example of Linda, the infidelity of her boyfriend would hurt her ego and maybe break her heart for a few days, but an infidel husband may land her with an unfaithful husband, which would seriously affect her self esteem and may even impair her for life. The after effects are truly frightening in their magnitude. In such cases a polite lie is certainly not commendable. The probable long term possibilities far outweigh the short term benefits thus providing reasonable grounds for condemning the act.
A person has a right to make all decisions in his or her life having possession of all facts whether or not they are distasteful to them at the moment. A few minutes of hurt feeling might avoid a big embarrassment. Telling your friend that she can't sing now might save her from becoming the laughing stock on the college cultural meet.
But the importance of the fact that the issue has to be dealt with tactfully can't be stressed enough. Even the most distressing fact can be handled in such a way as to minimize the pain it brings. Rather than coming across as rude, alternative solutions might be generated. In other words rather than saying 'Carol you sound like a donkey with a sore throat' it might be better to say 'Carol don't you think you are better at dancing? Why don't you dance and lip synch?". This effectively conveys the message without rubbing it in. If you think your friend looks thin, pathetic and awful in that chiffon saree, you might say 'Geetha why don't you wear those new capris you got the other day? They are just right for your petite figure. Not all of us can carry it as well as you do."
In a nutshell more often than not, white lies merely delay the repercussion, sometimes even blowing it up. It then assumes proportions of a moral crime, Break the news but gently and tactfully. Sugar coated pills may be difficult to swallow but they are the most effective in the long run.
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