We all lie. Most of us at least twice a day according to this TED talk. It’s part of being a human. We lie for a reason – to protect ourselves or others. A lot of modern lies related to the digital world are not new at all. Studying lies is much easier now that our conversations are recorded with the help of tech. And as it turns out, people tend to lie less online. I find this fascinating.
So why is honesty so important to our resilience skills? I think because it requires a few healthy habits we all benefit from:
- Courage – to stand up for our truth in the light of social pressure.
- Empathy – to recognise people’s feelings and adjust our message to those accordingly
- Kindness – having people’s best interest at heart, not ours.
- Honesty with oneself – being transparent on what we do, why we do it, and who we want to be in every moment in life.
I am having a lot of conversations nowadays about online identity (one or multiple) and about the notion of presenting ourselves differently in different situations. I am personally an advocate of a certain level of consistency in all cases in life, including one true online identity. I think that the social web is the extension of who we are in real life, so it should reflect our honest self. That is my take, though. I like to meet people who read my blog and almost find it surprising just how it reflects who I am. I think it has something to do with our need to fit in and adjust our presentation to various contexts in life. I wonder if it is not easier to just be yourself and carry that one central image with us everywhere? I might behave a bit more reserved in a business meeting, but ultimately I will giggle at the same jokes. I might speak slower in the UK than in Poland, but I will respect people of all backgrounds in both countries. I might talk about the positive impact of gaming online, but I will challenge the myths of oversimplified Internet addiction in all suitable instances in my life. I find this process relatively easy because my goal is to be true to myself.
It’s hard enough to get that right, knowing well that we all have so many biases. We grow up in the bubble of our heritage, upbringing, social and economic class, education and finally profession. It can be tempting for me as a soon-to-be counsellor to shut off my blog and hide behind a static website but is it going to help my future clients? Is it going to reflect who I am? Will they get me from such limited and guarded presentation? Or would it make more sense to be genuine and real instead? Build trust before we even meet in person? Sounds more sensible to me.
To lie or not to lie is not the question here. To stay true to yourself is. Being honest with ourselves means we can navigate our life lightly and confidently with a clear purpose. This way of living is more comfortable and more rewarding. It is harder to get lost in our translation to which can be precious during harder times in life (when it is ever so tempting to question ourselves anyway). Creating our offline and online identities becomes so much easier if we don’t get lost in lies, but build ourselves through our truths.
I do realise that this is my take and I know many people disagree with it so I would love to see what you think.