Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, August 23, 2007

To Tell The Truth

In The Old Days, We'd Pull Out Your Tongue...

I was puttering around on one of the gun/shooter forums the other day. I wasn't looking to get into any discussions, I was just trolling the boards and seeing what the daily topics were.

On one of the threads, some guy posted a reply to a gun review, and included a personal anecdote that I knew at once to be untrue. It involved the mechanical capabilities of a certain handgun, and what the poster said occurred could simply never happen, barring divine intervention, and even then it's highly improbable.

The older I get, the less capacity I have to deal with bullshitters. I absolutely hate to see it on a web forum I frequent. It's like walking up your driveway and seeing a fresh steaming turd on the pavement. Really brings down the neighborhood...

I had most of my scathing expose mentally composed as I hit the "reply" button, but I thought I'd check to see if anyone else caught the lie. Yup, sure enough someone had pointed out (in a much more diplomatic manner than I would have) that the previous poster was A. Full of Shit, and B. Caught in the Act.

I wasn't going to start a donnybrook after someone else had spanked the offender, so I just let it go. However, it got me thinking about why someone would post such an obviously false story to a forum that's just chockablock with gun professionals and overeducated tyros like myself. Did he not think he'd be caught?

There's a lot of reasons why people choose to lie. To avoid getting into trouble, maybe to impress someone. Possibly because they feel that their lives aren't exciting enough without embellishment.

I like comedian Eddie Izzard's scale of measuring mendacity:

You have murder one, murder two; you realize that there can be a difference in the level of murder, so there must be a difference in the level of perjury. Perjury One is when you're saying there's no Holocaust when 10 million people have died in it, and Perjury Nine is when you said you shagged someone when you didn't.

I'll agree. Saying you caught an 18 lb. trout when you really only caught a scrofulous 5 oz. crappie won't shake the foundations of the earth.

Saying you're free of STD's when you've got a raging case of herpes, though... That's good for a thorough beatdown once the offended party gets back from the clinic.

What really bothers me about people lying is that after they're caught once, how can you really ever trust anything they say in the future?

Brrrr.... just caught a chill when I realized that with that above sentence, I've turned into my parents...

I'm happy to say that out of all the bloggers I've met in person, there's been no one that's just blatantly full of shit. OK, so maybe the fish got a little bit bigger once the liquor started flowing, but there's no one I'd hesistate to believe if they chose to confide in me.

Up and down my blogroll, the one thing most common is the ability to turn the everyday and ordinary into narratives full of wonder, humor, pathos and creativity. I think if you've got that skill, you don't feel the need to punch up your imaginary resume.

(Note: While I was born, I wasn't born yesterday... I'm keeping mah mouf shut about the folks that have a carefully constructed online persona...)

So, are you a mendacious prevaricator that's stumbled on this website and is looking to go straight? Here's some tips:

1) Distance = Bad - The farther your story happens from you, the more likely it's gonna be bullshit. That amazing thing that happened to your friend's brother's cousin's uncle in Timbuktu is highly suspect.

2) Do Your Research - If you claim to have held off the Egyptian hordes in the Sinai in 1973, it would help if your high school class ring didn't say 1983.

3) Do Your Research Pt. 2 - No, you didn't get laid for the first time in the balcony at a Steely Dan concert in 1978.

4) Stop Dropping Acid - Your military boarding school in Alaska did NOT get secretly deployed to help the Special Forces defend Prudhoe Bay against invading Soviet Spetznaz forces.

5) Big Brother Is Watching - You really have no idea of the interests and backgrounds of your audience. That little old lady is secretly a fan of Napoleonic wargaming and can rattle off regiments by heart. That wrinkled old coot wearing the grimy gimme cap knows everything there is to know about 1948-2002 MOPAR and GM engines. That quiet guy by the bar spent years in the Congo killing Communist tangoes.

Sooner or later, you're gonna start pulling stories out of your ass, and you'll get called on it in public. It won't be pretty. You'll try to bluff your way out, but you'll fail. People will laugh at you. You'll have to move away, change your name and hope to live it down. Plus, people might confuse you for a Democrat. Or a politician. Or (Horrorshow!) a Democratic politician.

So, take the easy road, and just be yourself. That's often quite sufficient to gather a group of friends. God knows, with all our assorted closeted skeletons and quirkish eccentricities, most bloggers won't be too terribly selective! It's a meritocracy based on how well you tell a story, not how well you make one up!