AP Language and Composition
Everyone knows that “honesty is the best policy.” Yet, we all lie on a daily basis. Whether it be a big lie concerning where we are or where we are going, or a little white lie to make someone feel better; everyone lies. In the passage “Learning to Lie,” by Po Bronson, Bronson discusses the reasons behind why we lie.
First of all, we lie to avoid punishment. Everyone has done this multiple times in their life. I know I have lied for this reason many times. Nobody likes to get in trouble, and sometimes lying about what you did seems like an easy way out of punishment. For example, when your parents ask how you did on a test, that you know you failed, you say that you don’t know or that you haven’t gotten the test back yet. The reason for this lie is to avoid the punishment that you know is inevitable for receiving a bad grade on the test. Another example of this, and a more extreme example, would be lying about where you are. Many teens will tell their parents they are staying at a friends house when they are actually going somewhere else that their parents might not approve of. Lying is a way of avoiding an argument.
Another reason we lie is to make ourselves feel in control. When surrounded by friends, some people will lie to make themselves look better. For example, you might say you did better on a test than you actually did, or that you scored more points in a game than you did. This gives you a sense of comfort because you feel “ better” than the other people around you. You feel in control, and people need that sense of control to be able to handle situations.
We lie to protect ourselves, and to protect others. I think this is the most common form of lying. For example if a friend makes food for you and it is terrible, you would lie and say that it tastes great. By lying, you save your friendship and the feelings of your friend. You stop an argument that could potentially become really bad, just by telling a little white lie.
These lies circulate around grades, in my opinions. Grades make us lie. As a junior in high school my life right now is all about grades. Getting good grades leads to getting into a good college; getting into a good college, leads to getting a good job, and getting a good job supplies a stable life. Obviously, grades are a big deal. Like I said before and like Po Bronson stated, we lie to avoid punishment. If I fail a test, I get in trouble. If I lie about failing a test I don’t get in trouble (at least until my parents found out I lied). After failing a test, simply telling my parents “I didn't get it back yet,” gives me more time before the inevitable punishment. Although the punishment comes either way, lying seems like a better option at the time. I’d rather get the punishment later as oppose to now.
We lie to make ourselves feel in control. After a class gets a grade back, immediately, everyone looks at each other and compares grades. If your grade wasn't what you wanted, you lie. You bump it up a few extra points to make yourself feel better about the situation. This scenario is also an example of lying to protect ourselves. When put in this position, you don’t want to be the one who didn't do as well as your friends on the assignment. To protect yourself from feeling insignificant, you lie. Although its just a small, minuscule lie, you do it anyways to protect yourself from humiliation.
Lying is a big part of our daily lives, and grades are mainly to blame. Grades force us to lie. Today everything is competition and the competition is extremely rough regarding college and grades. Many teens are under stress to get into college, and parents are stressed to get their teens into college. By causing a massive amount of worry in your life, grades are just another reason to lie.