Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. It’s good to have you here. I seem to have had yet another difficult week. I’ve been struggling with some back pain. The herniated disc in my spine worries me quite a bit, and the thought of ending up in hospital again or suffering some of the more serious consequences of the problem is scary. Hopefully, this is just a flare-up, and it will settle down again.
Regular readers will know exactly how big a part Twitter has played in my integration with the autistic community. The nefarious plans of villainous new Twitter overlord Elon Musk are, however, causing a disintegration of the autistic community there. Many of us have fled to Mastodon, a microblogging site that looks a lot like Twitter but doesn’t have all the bullshit algorithms. I’m going to keep hold of my Twitter account, just in case Musk moves on to ruin something else instead. But for now – and possibly permanently – my microblogging activity will be on Mastodon. You can find me on Mastodon here: @Autistic_Writer@mastodonapp.uk . Now, on with the blog…
This week, I want to talk about lying. I think I have a mental approach to the subject of lying that many people would disagree with. My suspicion is that the difference in my approach reflects a difference in my neurotype, as most of the people who would disagree with me would be non-autistic. See what you think…
Lying is generally regarded as a bad thing, until some wiseass says, “What about white lies?” Yes, yes, white lies are a thing, and not all lies are malicious. We all get that. But some lies are malicious. An example of a malicious lie is a false accusation. False accusations can literally ruin lives and reputations. I don’t like malicious lies. But I wonder if even malicious lies can be justified in the right circumstances? Maybe if someone is being blackmailed into telling a malicious lie? But no, that’s not a justification of the lie; it just means the blame should be shifted from the person telling the lie to the blackmailer.
What do I mean by a malicious lie? I would suggest a malicious lie is an untruth told with the specific intention of causing harm to someone, or an untruth told without consideration for the harm it could cause to another person. So yes, I’m saying malice can be passive, in this respect. By acting recklessly without due consideration for others, one is behaving maliciously. I’m saying, then, that a malicious lie cannot be justified. But are there any lies than can be justified?
Well, we’ve already mentioned white lies. You know the kind of thing. Like telling a friend you’re busy and can’t meet up, when in fact you are planning their surprise birthday party. But, hmmm, if someone gave me a surprise birthday party, I’d probably be upset by it, so that’s not a great example. I don’t like surprises. But hey, white lies are indeed a thing. Make up your own examples. I don’t have a problem with white lies. I know that people who like to portray us poor autistic folks as deficient and lacking complexity might not like that, but, well, I don’t care. Being autistic does not automatically prevent a person from understanding how white lies work. But there are some non-malicious lies that really get under my collar. Before I tell you about that, let me give you my thoughts about why some lies are both bad and justifiable.
Some big lies are told by people under pressure. Let’s say Bob is having financial problems and is stealing money from his mum, Margaret, who cannot afford to lose the cash. Bob gets caught out, and is accused of stealing by his brother, Larry. Bob, ashamed and worried the police might get called in, denies the theft. This lie, like the theft itself, is absolutely despicable. But the lie is also understandable from the point of view of Bob, who realises he could be in deep shit if he owns up to his crime. Bob, in this example, is an evil scumbag of the lowest order, but his lie, from an angle of self-preservation, is justified. Personally, I hope Bob gets arrested, but I can understand why he lied. What I’m saying here is that sometimes, when people tell BIG WHOPPING lies because they are under some kind of pressure, I can understand it. I don’t like it. I think it’s pretty awful. But I can understand it. The behaviour sickens me, but the lie about the behaviour is simply to be expected. Bob’s lie does not count as a malicious lie. His thieving behaviour was certainly malicious, but his lie was simply about preserving his own despicable ass. Now for the lies that really annoy me.
Some people lie for no good reason. It’s not a white lie, it’s not even necessarily a malicious lie, it’s just a lie. For the sake of lying. Sometimes even a really small lie. Ridiculous, silly lies. People who say they’ve seen a movie that they know full well they haven’t. People who say they haven’t seen your special sketching pen when it’s sticking out of their shirt pocket (yes, I know that’s a bit specific). People who say they’ve been on holiday to some place they’ve never set foot in. You know the stuff. Why do these little lies annoy me so much? Well, if I catch someone out in a BIG lie, and I can see the justification for it (as described above), it might not entirely destroy my trust in them. I might think, Okay, that was a pretty serious lie, but I can understand why they said it. They don’t usually lie; it was difficult circumstances, I get it. But if someone tells me a pointless little lie for no reason… how can I trust anything they say? If they can lie about silly little things, they can lie about anything, right? Those little lies annoy the hell out of me, because they have no reason, no justification, and so risk eroding all trust. And in all honesty, I see a lot of silly little lies being told by people who would be outraged to discover someone had told them a BIG WHOPPING lie. There’s an element of hypocrisy in that.
Of course, we have to understand that what is a BIG WHOPPING lie to one person is a small, inconsequential lie to another. I blogged recently about how I believe non-autistic people tend to judge wrongdoing by how closely it affects them, and this concept overlaps here. I suspect that a non-autistic person is likely to believe a lie is inconsequential if it affects them only slightly or not at all. The principle of the lie being malicious if it is damaging someone else, someone not close to them, is ignored. An example of this is how non-autistic people will often spread lies by repeating harmful myths about autism, without ever taking personal responsibility for fact checking. The people who spread these lies don’t see their behaviour as malicious, because it has little or no detrimental effect on them. But spreading harmful autism myths without fact checking is reckless behaviour which is harmful to autistic people. In this context, spreading lies has the same effect as telling (originating) the lie, and is therefore malicious due to the recklessness of it.
I think my approach to lies is probably very different from that of the majority of non-autistic people, who seem to equate the seriousness of a lie with the seriousness of the event or behaviour being lied about. Which is kind of illogical when you think about it. I would love to hear the thoughts of other autistic people on this.
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That’s all for this week. Until next time, take care.
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Why Do I Write This Blog?
When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism. I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation. With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery. Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers. I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.
You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.