In the past few months, people from all walks of life have lied to me.
It’s a tsunami of lying.
From flat-out lies to the garden-variety “maybe I misunderstood,” it has been a constant deluge.
In 15 years in this business, I have never seen it this bad.
I have a theory on this: the social compact against lying is breaking down.
You see, we all are tempted to lie to protect ourselves from getting into trouble. But we usually don’t lie, because we would get in even bigger trouble if we were caught lying.
That only works if people experience actual negative consequences for lying. If we can see people lie and get off scot-free, even though everyone knows they’re lying, why would we take our lumps when a lie would get us out of it?
With every lie that goes unpunished, the temptation for each of us gets a little bit stronger.
Yesterday, on national TV, I watched our president say he would run into a school to stop a school shooter barehanded. This is the same president who said he was so horrified by the sight of blood that he turned away when an elderly man fell and cut open his head.
And you know what? People are actually arguing today about that. Instead of gasping and saying, "What a liar!" people are coming up with excuses for him. He doesn't even have to come up with the excuses himself!
"Welllll, the president isn’t lying, kids are different from an elderly man..."
"Hillary Clinton lied just as much, it would be no different with her..."
"Really he was just joking about the elderly man..."
In this environment, you can understand the unimportant local person who thinks to himself, “I’m not gonna take responsibility. Not this time. I’m just going to lie.”
Of course you are. Why not? There’s no downside to lying anymore.