Have I mentioned the concept of social lubricating lies here yet? According to the scholarly article “Lying as norm in social interactions”: “One prevalent reason lying is a norm in North American society is because politeness is generally an upheld value. Thus, people are even encouraged to lie in certain situations in order to protect others’ feelings and to be polite.”
As the New York Times puts it, “To most people, the minor lies we sprinkle in our daily conversations are a confection, a social lubricant, not a poison. What a nice dress! What a swell haircut!”
I bet you’ve done this today. You joined a meeting and, when someone said, “How are you?” you replied, “Good, how are you?” Or you saw a colleague with a really loud blazer that they clearly loved, and you said, “That’s quite the blazer! It looks like you love it,” and they took it as a compliment.
These harmless deceptions keep normal social interactions sliding along smoothly, and I’m happy to fall in line.
But lately, when people ask me, “How are you?” or “Hey, long time no see, how’ve you been?” I have this long, long, long pause. My brain races: How much does this person know about my situation? Have I told them I’m getting divorced or did they read my blog post? Do I just say, “Fine” and pivot to asking about them, or how honest do I get?
Because life is complicated and hard and confusing and at times joyful and at times so full of grief. It’s hard to know what to tell people, even more than usual.
But you know, taking things one day at a time, we’re getting through it. Good days, hard days, and everything in between. And that’s just good enough.