2018 – 8th Grade National 4th Place Winner
Lindsay Fabricant, New York.
Deceit in Society
”Nothing is more common on earth than to deceive and be deceived.” Johann G. Seume
Deceit impacts our society in so many ways that it has become necessary to support our relationships and culture. Not only are people constantly deceiving others, they are often also deceiving themselves through the actions they take. While it is definitely not the right thing to do, there are times when people feel compelled to lie in order to protect themselves or a relationship with another. Although there are many relationships and decisions that must be built on a foundation of trust, people who are deceitful have an even greater impact on society because prosocial lying effects relationships, lies of omission create false perception, and self-deception changes how we view ourselves.
Some of the most common and harmful forms of deceit in our community are prosocial lies, lies of omission, and self-deception. Prosocial lying involves telling white lies to form a stronger relationship. It has become socially acceptable in most forms of society, for it can also increase cohesion between others. As Sylvia Tippman concluded, “lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network,” meaning that relationships are developed from personal encounters and experiences including different forms of lying. Another form of deceit is lying through omission, where one may leave out part of what is true and alter other details, often to protect oneself or find others to sympathize for them. An example of this is false advertising, where food companies leave out important details, such as total grams of sugar in food products, which has led to obesity. Also, self-deception is a form of deceit in which one constantly lies to oneself to improve self-confidence. This form of deceit is done subconsciously, as one may convince oneself that certain things are true, when they are not. As noted by Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton, “The easiest person to deceive is one’s self.” These three forms of deceit have a great impact on how we treat others and ourselves.
In consequence, deceit impacts our society in many ways. It is an underlying foundation for all relationships and conversations. While some people may not realize they are lying, their decisions to stretch the truth impact the cohesiveness in a community. For instance, prosocial lying is greatly accepted because it can improve relationships, since it involves telling a lie that leads to a stronger personal connection. Meanwhile, lies by omission and self-deception are both ways of deceiving for personal matters. These three forms of deceit are constantly used in society, influencing relationships and developing new social norms. White lies have recently become socially acceptable and more tolerated within one’s moral ethics. Without lies, people would also have to become less sensitive, or ignore their emotions. Therefore, deceit has a greater impact on our community, and as Rafael Barrio remarks, “there is no society without lies.”
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