I'm a bit of a liar.
I sometimes recall a moment, at 7 or 8 years old, when I put a piece of tape on the wall, wondering if it would really be invisible. Some time later, one of my parents (I don't even remember which one anymore) came along and asked if I had put tape on the wall. I said no.
I'm a parent now, so I can picture the scene in my head. Parent walks down a hallway and sees a piece of tape in the middle of the wall. Three feet away sits young son, looking in another direction, hiding a roll of tape.
"Did you put this tape on the wall?"
"Did you put this tape on the wall?"
"Are you sure you didn't put this tape on the wall? You're not in trouble. I just want to know."
Hmm. This seems like a trick. I thought I would be in trouble for putting the tape on the wall, so I lied about it. Now if I admit putting the tape on the wall, I have to admit I lied about it. Then I WILL be in trouble for lying. Better stick to the plan.
"I didn't do it."
"Ok, you wouldn't be in trouble for putting tape on the wall, but you're about to be in trouble for lying to me,
I knew it was a trick!
so I'm going to give you one last chance to tell me the truth."
As a parent, I'm still not sure what comes next. On the one hand, if young son finally comes clean and admits doing the deed, he's finally owned up and told the truth. But he's also admitting to lying about it when you first asked him. I'm thinking the least trouble would be admitting it in the first place, followed by owning up to the truth after lying about it, then finally, continuing to lie, even after being called out for lying. But how do you differentiate the punishments? You have to punish him for lying, but do you punish him less for admitting he lied? If you do, will he start lying about things, then admitting it at the last second, knowing it'll lead to a reduction in punishment?
All I had to say was,
"Yes, the package says 'invisible', and I was wondering if it would really be invisible."
Without trying to ennoble my actions too much, I was engaging in skepticism, in science, testing claims. I don't know how my parents might have reacted, but I know how I'd react now. I'd be glad my kid didn't believe everything people told him. Invisible tape is minor, but everyone has to come to terms with misleading advertising sooner or later, and the process has to start somewhere. Once you discover they've been pulling the wool over your eyes about invisible tape, you might be less likely to believe wearing a magnetic bracelet will improve your health or that the Easy Bake oven will be easy or allow you to bake.
I never learned not to lie -- I just learned to be ashamed of myself when I did. And that's not my parents' fault. They disciplined me when I lied. Common sense (I have more to say about the concept of common sense some other time) would dictate if you punish a child for lying, sooner or later, to avoid punishment, they'll stop lying. But I didn't. I just tried harder to tell better, more bulletproof lies. Ultimately, I just started hiding the things about me that I didn’t want to have to lie about.
I don’t know about other people, but I feel like I have two people inside my head. I have Good Mike. He’s positive, cares about justice and decency, loves his family, and wants to find the good in everything. Good Mike really exists, and he’s the guy who usually writes this blog. He’s the angel on my shoulder who shows up to remind me about the things I’ve learned from all my past experiences.
But there’s also Bad Mike. He’s bitter, angry, cynical, pessimistic, and doesn’t listen to reason. He’s the misanthrope on my shoulder who tells people the world needs an asteroid to wipe out the human race. He makes fun of everyone’s music. He rages at drivers who don’t understand the function of turn signals. Bad Mike really exists, too, and I can't reconcile Good Mike with Bad Mike.
Because I know myself and my tendencies, I've pushed myself while writing my posts never to say anything untrue. But while my posts have been honest, they don't represent all of my conflicted and strange split personality. I've committed a sin of omission, so to speak, in bottling up Bad Mike. I set out to write every day, to try to connect with people, to learn from my audience and, though it feels a little narcissistic to say so, I was hoping to teach my audience something about themselves and about me. I don't write every day, though. I only write when Good Mike has something to say.
Bad Mike needs to breathe. As it turns out, I think my conflicting sides inform one another. The good little voice in my head only exists in counterpoint to the rude little voice in my head.
So over the next few weeks, this blog is going to change in format. Bad Mike has some things to say, and this blog, accordingly will change names and formats.
Bad Mike isn’t always nice, and he's frequently illogical and unreasonable, but I’ll try to make him entertaining. Bear with him, though. I didn't know Good Mike was funny until people told me, so I definitely don't know how interesting Bad Mike is going to be. I'm hoping that when Bad Mike and Good Mike speak to each other, I get closer to my own truths and my own feelings. Time will tell.
There's scotch tape on the wall, and I put it there, dammit.
Get ready for Good Mike / Bad Mike.