You’re Only In Trouble If You Get Caught


What do you think of this question?

175210-aladdin_super As I was writing my post for this week, the phrase, “You’re only in trouble if you get caught,” popped into my mind.  It seemed fitting.  To jazz up my blog this week, I tried to google this phrase and see if I could find a cartoon or clip that I could present to all of you.  I figured I had heard this phrase several times before, so it had to come from somewhere. That’s when I discovered it.  This quote is from Aladdin, my favorite Disney movie of all time, making this even more perfect for my blog.

At first, my reaction to the question in my title is like, “No, no, that’s not true.” But wait, is it true?  I think it just might be.  Let’s take an easy example.  It is 10pm on a Monday night, and you just realize you were supposed to have written a paper that is due in class the following morning at 9:30am. If you write it frantically, you will probably pull off a B at best; in your mind, that is not acceptable.  Your next resort is emailing in an excuse so you can bring your paper into Thursday’s class instead.  Here is where my title comes back…you’ll only be in trouble if you get caught.  A little fib is not hurting anyone, unless or until it is busted.  If the professor sees you walking around campus and not at your “special final round interview in New York City”…good luck doing well in that class for the rest of the semester.  Let’s look at a social example.  Say an acquaintance invites you to have dinner to catch up.  It is cold outside and you are not really in a chatty mood; no harm done if you decline and are not seen elsewhere.  However, if that person sees you out happily chatting and eating with other friends, things will probably get awkward pretty fast.

After being very moved last week by Mike Daisey’s monologue, it was disheartening to find out it was filled with exaggerations and lies.  Is Mike Daisey a liar? In my opinion, yes.  Is he a bad person?  I do not believe so.

What is a LIE?

A lie, according to Dictionary.com, is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

Words that stick out: FALSE, DELIBERATE, INTENT, DECEIVE, UNTRUTH

What is TRUTH?

Truth, according to Dictionary.com, is the true or actual state of a matter or a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.

Words that stick out: TRUE, ACTUAL, VERIFIED, INDISPUTABLE, PRINCIPLE

If you’re reading my post, think to yourself if you have ever lied about ANYTHING before in your life.  If the answer is yes, sure, I could call you a liar too.  However, like Mike Daisey, your lie(s) might not lead me to say you are a bad person.  The word “liar” absolutely has a negative connotation, which I understand because a lie is false and has deliberate intent.  That said, it is important to understand the context of the lie to determine an opinion about that person or action.  After listening to “Retraction”, it was clear to me that Daisey’s monologue should not have been broadcasted on national radio, but it was a great theatrical story.  One of the parts that got my attention was when I heard that there was originally a lot of coverage about the conditions about Foxconn, and the news cycle packed up and moved on while Mike Daisey was traveling in that area.  His goal was to find a way to make people continue to care about this issue.  In my opinion, I do not think Daisey was creative enough with how he went about sharing his story.  With the experiences and information he had, he did not have to lie!  He could perform this monologue and say it is “based on true stories”; that way, people know how hard he worked, how passionate about the issue he is, and how it is not a typical “fiction” novel.  I also think he underestimated the impact his work would have.  He did not have to lie about the number of workers he spoke to or how many factories he visited.  To avoid lying, he should have focused on gathering more details from fewer places and conversations.  Remember the cliché, “it’s about quality, not quantity”.  I’m sure a few very powerful stories would have been just as impactful, and of course, more truthful.

The quote from my title applies to Daisey’s story, or lack there of.  He would not have been in trouble if he hadn’t gotten caught.  I hate to say it, but he had this one coming.  If you are going to broadcast this monologue as “journalism”, it should probably be expected that your story will be fact-checked.  Be aware of what you’re getting yourself into!  This leads me to the question, “Who decides?”  Who decides what is true and what is a lie.  I think we all have the power and responsibility to decide.  This person could be an authority figure or a peer, one person or many people, the media or society as a whole.  I will say that I think it is much harder than it used to be to completely get away with lying.  With the help of social media, magazines, apps, and the internet, we can now get information with a simple click or two.   Granted, not all information you find on the internet is factual either, but there are often hundreds of websites and articles related to one issue that can paint a pretty good picture of what is actually going on.  While it is harder than before for a person to get away with lying, it is also harder than before for society to trust others.  With all of the information and rumors floating around, it is more difficult to determine what should be deemed “true” or “indisputable fact”.

All it takes is one person to question or investigate a particular issue to get people wondering.  One story that “Retraction” led me to think about was Lance Armstrong’s confession to doping.  Armstrong had been questioned a few times for the use of drugs throughout his career.  At first these questions were based on curiosity, but then these questions were asked more often and in a more accusatory fashion.  He denied and denied, and he even sued some of the people who accused him.  However, as you all probably have heard, he was in fact using drugs throughout his career.  In this case, reporters were in control and “decided”.  They exposed his behavior and have now shown society that Armstrong had lied for years.

I’ll leave you with this.  Before you go ahead and lie about something, think about your intentions and the possible consequences.  If someone discovers the truth, what would he do that information?  The very last question…is it worth it?

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3 thoughts on “You’re Only In Trouble If You Get Caught

  1. Great post. A very engaging read. Just a couple of questions I had in my mind: Is it worse to be a liar or to be a bad person? Are they related in any way? I can think of instances where people have lied and then in the public’s mind, that makes them a bad person. Is this the case with Daisey?

    • Thanks Kelly! And those are great questions. I think it definitely depends on the situation at hand and the person’s intentions; you can be a liar and a bad person or one or the other. For example, if I were to bake a batch of cookies and overcooked them in the oven, my parents would probably still say, “No they still taste great!” That would be a lie, but this type of lie does not make my parents bad people. Then again, if a businessman commits fraud and attempts to cover it up with a lie, I would say he is a bad person. I do not believe that Mike Daisey is a bad person, but I do believe (as I explained previously) that this situation could have been avoided on his part. His intent was not to deceive people but to increase awareness of an issue. His monologue accomplished this. The word “liar” definitely has a negative connotation, but it is important to look at the intent behind the lie, how the lie impacted others, and how often the person lies to determine whether someone is a good or bad person.

  2. I also found your post to be very interesting. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie as well! And as Aladdin learned, when your lie starts to get complicated you loose control and the truth is inevitably uncovered. When Daisey created this monologue he was asked to give the contact information for Cathy so his facts could be checked. He lied and said her name is actually Anna and her phone number was no longer working. Do you think this lie makes Daisey a bad person? He deliberately lied so his monologue would be broadcasted without being checked first. I don’t know if there is a right answer to anything in this case because I do not truly know Daisey’s intent when he wrote his story however he does give us something to think about. What lies are worth telling and which are not worth the trouble of being caught?

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