It could be argued that a more honest world would be utopian, because “honesty is the best policy”. It could also be argued that a world with no lies could create dystopia as “the truth hurts”. Either way, it would be interesting to see how different our world would be if the ability to lie or be dishonest was taken away. Let’s explore some of the potential pros and cons of this theoretical world.
First of all, although it may be obvious, I think I should clarify and outline what I mean when I refer to honesty and dishonesty. In the context of this blog post, honesty pertains to telling the truth despite the consequences, while dishonesty relates to implicitly or explicitly withholding information that is true and correct.
That being clarified, let’s get back to business. I will start with the pros of living in a world with no lies:
I think the biggest advantage to complete honesty is that you would always know where you stand with people. This would make life a whole lot easier as you would be able, without overthinking it, to tell the people you love how you feel about them, you could make your feelings known to that special person and instantly get an “I feel the same way” or an “I don’t see you that way”, without all the guess work and mind games. You could also have the confidence to let people know when they have upset you, without feeling guilty.
In addition to this, in a hashtag no filter world, people would be more straightforward, and as a result we would always know what was going on, we would see what needs to be improved, and be able to be more efficient. For example, if you didn’t get the job after an interview, the interviewer would be able tell you what exactly it is you did wrong and were lacking, so that the next time you could be more equipped. Therefore it would give us opportunities to better ourselves and increase our strengths.
Going back to the points about being confident enough to tell people when they have upset you, and telling people how you really feel, I think this has the potential to be very beneficial as it could repair broken relationships. A lot of the time people hold grudges because of how they view a certain situation, when in actual fact, they have misinterpreted the whole thing. Given the opportunity to be honest and say what we really think, the truth would come out and people could be given the chance to see things in another way. It could give insight behind peoples’ actions and help to explain or justify why they have behaved the way they have. For instance, a bully could be able to recount a traumatic experience which has troubled them and has caused them to act out in a negative way. As a result we would be able to learn more about each other and appreciate people with a greater understanding of them.
On the flip side, living in a world free of lies also has the potential to be very dark and dangerous. In the world we live in now, I would like to think that most of the time, we think about how the other person will react before we share our thoughts. Oftentimes, this results in us slightly altering what we actually want to say so as not to offend the other person. However, with the power to tell people how you really feel, it could create a culture of negativity and targeting; people may be more blunt and mean. Without having to vet your thoughts before letting them out of your mind, you have the power to let rip into people and destroy them, highlighting every flaw you have found in them and every little niggling thing they do that annoys you, or worse, they could do the same to you!
Total honesty could, and would very likely, reveal the ugly side to people, and the world in general. Perhaps there is a reason why we have the ability to think before we speak and why our brains are considerably larger than our mouths. Although, in an ideal world, the benefits of having the ability to tell people how we really feel would outweigh the disadvantages, in reality I think it would be the other way around. I think we would spend more time nagging and bickering than complimenting each other, as I guess it is just human nature. Also, it wouldn’t always be nice to know what people think of you as it may be the complete opposite to the vibe they give to you, or what you may have initially believed. It could also reveal that people who you thought were pleasant, are actually quite rotten; it could expose negative attributes such as racism, prejudice, ageism, sexism, homophobia etc.
Additionally, if you happened to be considered an unpleasant or unfavourable person and were constantly reminded of this by people, it would be disheartening, as well as damaging to morale and self worth. This could result in depression, self loathing and may even lead to an increase in suicide rates. It could ruin relationships, cause people to be more closed, shy and unsure of themselves, and could create a hostile and volatile environment.
So to answer the question ‘Would total honesty make the world a better place?’, objectively I would have to say no. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning lying in any way, but, as outlined, things can get ugly very quickly once the floor is opened to share how we really feel. Sorry just wouldn’t cut it once the damage of complete and utter honesty sets in. We have to have the ability to cushion and mould, depending on the person, because at the end of the day we all have different levels of sensitivity. No two people will react the same to a certain situation. We have to package the way we say things to people depending on their personalities because as humans we are all unique and different. That is what sets us apart and makes us who we are. Therefore, the world we live in now trumps (sorry America) a world where complete honesty would be eradicated.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ChrisCultureUK. 🙂