The other day while getting drinks with a friend of mine, I told him that sex and the city taught me how to properly talk to men in a seductive way. (I didn’t elaborate then on details and I will not be elaborating now.) And embarrassingly, this was not a lie. But it and the conversation did open my mind up the already interesting conversation I was having with myself surrounding honesty and online communication in a way that I didn’t expect. Allow me to explain…
Lying is wrong
Look, it’s no secret that people lie online. Despite honesty being the best policy and probably one of the very first rules our parents teach us — aside from the obvious ones like, “the dog isn’t supposed to drink out of the toilet and neither are you.” [to be clear: this is not a lesson I had to learn but I have no doubt that kids do the darndest things.] The fact of the matter is that lying seems to come more naturally, in some cases, than telling the truth does because we want to be liked, we want to be loved, we want to be listened to, and most importantly, and in a workplace (which has turned into an online and remote community) in particular, we want to stay employed.
Now before you get on my back no this is not going to take some serious or dramatic drama filled twist about me making bold faced lies to my employer, but something that has been weighing on me is how, when I started this job, I said I was willing to relocate, but when I say that now… it comes with a lot more personal risk and would require quite a few benefits that would have to compensate for living in a place like that.
Lying is (always?) wrong
See I never thought I’d be comparing my professional life to my online dating profile, but unlike most people I know – my dating profile might be a bit more upfront and honest than I can and that I am willing to be in the workplace. For example, online I can be an open book and I can talk about anything – but at work, I can’t talk about quite a few aspects of my personal life and while that’s fair and that’s a choice I make, when it comes to the prospect of living where I work rather than working where I live now, my personal life and the qualities of my personality that I put above most also happen to be the very reasons that I wouldn’t want to relocate to a place where I can’t be my authentic self.
And worse than that, I can’t, after saying that I was interested in relocating for work, suddenly say…. Oh, well, I changed my mind because … ? Because I am queer. Liberal. And female and because I want bodily autonomy. And oh your state is a hostile place for all of those things… And before you tell me “but Rachel, you can do that, you can make that choice” I say – No! I could never say that. Because no one in their right mind would say those things to an employer that works in the state that mine does. Or to any employer for that matter because that would be crazy. And so, logically, but despite my values, I keep my mouth shut. (And yes I realize the sentence structure in this paragraph just took a turn toward absolute trash.)
Lying is always wrong, but omission is a grey area. (right?)
Ok so sure this is a true statement, obviously lying is wrong because, like I said it’s one of the first things our parents teach us as children. But as an adult, sometimes telling lies, or omitting truths can be a way to protect ourselves from very real and dangerous situations. But that’s also why I consider it a slippery slope.
See a little over a month from now I’m going to be taking a trip south to meet my bosses for the first time in person and while I’d love to tell them that that’s the first step to me moving there – I really can’t say that. I can’t tell my bosses that I want to be there because it is only a half truth. And also can’t tell them that I don’t feel safe in their state because that could jeopardize my standing with the firm, so what can I do? What should I do? Do I do like I used to and sex and the city the situation? Meaning, do I tell people what they want to hear at my own expense? Do I tell the truth and face the potentially obvious consequences? Or do I find a middle ground and speak in half truths, only to have to make excuses about why I can’t follow though? None of those sound like good options, so what would you do?
See when it comes to this stuff, you might be able to imagine why it weighs on me. Or you might not. But as an honest person I don’t like having to choose between a paycheck and who I am, and right now that choice is just a risk I’m not willing to take. Even if it could go in my favor. So I guess what I am saying is that I’ve already made my choice, and fan of it or not, slippery slope or not, it’s just one I have to live with.
And maybe you can relate.