Regardless of how honest, decent and trustworthy people we are, at times, it's very easy to bend the truth slightly and slip out a little white lie.
Most of us learn through our parents, who may have told us that carrots made you see in the dark so we'd eat our vegetables, or that Father Christmas would reconsider our new bicycle if we misbehaved.
White lies are an easy way out of a potential row, someone thinking slightly less of you, causing conflict or making a situation unpleasant.
They keep the peace and as long as they're not used too frequently, are totally harmless and innocent.
I'd never really considered how often these lines slip out until Kaspersky challenged me to a week without telling even the smallest of white lies. None by omission. No porkies. None whatsoever.
And it was harder than I thought. Running late for a meeting this week, it was going to be all too easy to say 'I'm so sorry, my train was delayed.' (partly because frequently, it is delayed so it doesn't feel too deceptive) but realised the reason I was almost 15 minutes behind schedule was because I pressed the snooze button one too many times. I felt my face turning crimson as I typed out 'I'm ever so sorry, I pressed the snooze button too many times and as a result, am running late'. Much to my surprise, the response was 'Haha, totally understand - I'm always doing that. See you soon!'. I still felt mortified at my admission, but reassured that I'd potentially broken the ice slightly, and opened a conversation for when I did eventually arrive.
AD - This is a paid partnership with Kaspersky
My whirlwind introduction to the week without lying got me thinking about the premise behind Kaspersky's campaign - Keeping Your Digital Privacy, and how much of our private lives are tied to our smartphones, laptops, emails and text messages.
Research shows that every person is hiding 13 secrets – and hasn’t told anybody about five of them. Much like white lies themselves, these harmless secrets serve a purpose. They maintain the peace. They help the world turn smoothly. Secrets, in short, can be good. And they're not all bad either. Perhaps we're planning a surprise party for a friend, launching a new project you want to keep under wraps, or maybe you've got the first chapter of the novel you eventually want to publish, stashed away on your laptop.
Whatever your digital secrets are, Kaspersky are encouraging us to consider the consequences should our personal information fall into the wrong hands. And to raise awareness for this, challenged me to consider the white lies we all tell (me included) and the impact they have on daily life.
And of course, they encouraged me to go a week without using a single one.
So here goes, the 5 white lies we ALL tell. But that I wasn't able to slip out this week.
"I'm 5 minutes away."
I usually whip this one out when I'm definitely NOT five minutes away, but when I know it sounds much better than 'I'm 15 minutes away'.
Usually this coincides in an apology the traffic was bad, or the train was delayed or that my taxi didn't turn up. Some of these DO actually happen quite frequently, as luck would have it, so I feel I'm bending the truth only ever so slightly.
But this week, of course I wasn't allowed to transfer any responsibility of running late to one of these excuses.
After a mortifying first day where I realised that if I wasn't able to white lie, I realised that I was going to have to ensure I DEFINITELY wasn't late.
So I got up half an hour earlier than I usually do, packed my bag the night before and waited OUTSIDE the front door for my taxi, who arrived early thankfully. All was going well until the sat nav took us to the completely wrong location, 18 miles away from where I was supposed to be.
Thankfully because I was early in all other activities, I was only 5 minutes late overall (despite allowing myself 30 minutes leeway) but typically, it sounded a little like a white lie when I exclaimed 'I'm so sorry, the sat nav took us to the totally wrong location' and proceeded to explain in detail which country lane we'd ended up in.
Often when people are lying, they lavish it with detail. And I think in illustrating my honesty, I ended up looking like I was telling a porky anyway. Oops!
"Yes, thank you - I love the new hairstyle"
Now I didn't have a hairdressers appointment scheduled for this week so I couldn't practise telling the truth on this one, however I think this white lie is indicative that I need to be more assertive when it comes to services I am paying for.
All too often have I sat in the hairdressers chair, silently reeling in horror as I watch MUCH more hair than I originally asked for, snip, snip, snipped away from my head and falling to the floor.
I then have a blow dry that leaves my fringe hanging in the wrong direction and springing out in all directions.
The creator of this masterpiece then holds the mirror to the back of my head and asks 'Do you like it?'.
Through grimaced teeth, I respond 'Yes, thank you - I love it', despite thinking about how quickly I can run home and wash/grow it out.
In future, I perhaps need to more clearly assert what I want before the hairdressers whips out the scissors - and if there's something I'm not keen on, I can communicate this politely.
It's all too easy to use this statement as we want to leave as quickly as possible, but in this case - we're having to tell a white lie AND pay for it!
"I'm so sorry, my phone died."
I'll be the first to admit, since my life and work is spent on my phone, when I DO switch off, the last place I want to be is spent tapping away on my devices.
I'm an all or nothing kind of responder on emails, texts or phone calls. You'll hear from me right away, or not for a few days.
And whenever I'm asked at a family occasion, I'll proclaim 'I'm so sorry, my phone died' or 'I've been busy' or 'I haven't had a chance to check my phone'. Those things are SLIGHTLY bending the truth, as the chances are I have seen the notification for the message pop up, I've read it and I've thought about responding but I just HAVEN'T done so. I'm not sure why it's embarrassing to just admit that I haven't replied, but it feels a little arrogant to explain that I've spent SO much time on my phone, replying to SO many messages already that I didn't have time for theirs.
This week, I received lovely long messages from relatives who frequently take their time to check in with me and ask how I am. Usually I'll read them and think of a reply in my head, before resolving responding to the evening and invariably forgetting, as I'll be off my phone, trying to switch off. But this week, I thought about how kind it is that these people are taking the time to message me and give me their support, love and guidance. I immediately tapped a response straight back and when I saw them at a family event, I had a lengthy conversation about how I often forget to reply because I associate my phone with 'work' and don't have much 'personal usage' time on my phone. I said that despite this, it wasn't a good enough excuse and that I was sorry I hadn't always been great at responding right away. It felt good to be honest and not fob them off with an excuse that my phone died.
"Oh yes, that makes sense."
Usually said when something doesn't make sense, but you don't want to go through the rigmarole of having them explain it for the seventh time. I actually realised this week that I say the above A LOT. I feel embarrassed not understanding things and I think it stems from my school days, when it would often take me a couple of attempts of someone explaining something for it to click in my head. I was very good at asking questions and not feeling ashamed if I didn't understand something. I think in a bid to tell myself I've 'grown up' and become an adult, I don't ask these inquisitive questions to find out more information and understand something like I used to. This week, I've made a REAL effort to ask more questions and actually understand something, BEFORE I proclaim sense in a statement. Hopefully this has made me a slightly better listener this week and more of a conversationist. It could have also had the opposite effect and just brought out my inner detective, interrogating whoever I've been speaking to. Hopefully not, though!
However I do have a slight admission of failure here, as earlier in the week during a taxi journey, I nodded and smiled at the driver despite not properly hearing what he said over the blast of the air conditioning and the wind whistling through the window, as I sat in the back seat and asked for the third time 'sorry, what did you say?'. I still didn't understand the question or the statement that he'd mumbled, so I nodded my head and smiled, silently considering when my last hearing test was.
"See you later!"
This one is perhaps less of a white lie and more of a throwaway statement that rolls off the tongue without much thought behind it. But I do find myself frequently saying 'see you later' to people I have no intention of seeing again.
In fact, I once said it to an ex-boyfriend, knowing full well we'd be parting ways and never crossing paths again since we lived in different parts of the country. We'd ended things amicably, but I'm sure we both had no intention of ever seeing one another again. It slipped out and I kicked myself for saying it, as it was totally the wrong context.
So... how did it go?
A week without any white lies sounded daunting and it started off a little red faced, but soon made me realise how much white lies can be intrinsically engrained in our correspondence and conversations. It encouraged me to have more meaningful conversations with people rather than succumbing to small talk - and also stopped me making excuses and doing things.
It also made me consider how that as a blogger, our digital assets are so important to our businesses, that I'm really pleased that a couple of years ago I placed a priority on digital security and made efforts to upgrade my software and educate myself on any ongoing email scams (don't ever click on the links sent to you via email unless it's someone you trust). I actually worked with Kaspersky a few years ago on a previous campaign, which was the catalyst I needed to outsource help for security software and ensure it was all up to date.
Keeping your digital privacy
Kaspersky are encouraging us all to consider the consequences should our personal information fall into the wrong hands - and have a fantastic Kaspersky Security Cloud solution which is tailored for individual and family needs.
The built-in Security Adviser acts like a user’s very own security expert – automatically warning them about new threats that are directly relevant to what they do online whether that is emailing, socialising, banking, shopping, streaming and using cloud services.
I'm definitely going to look into installing this onto my devices as further precaution, especially since it protects personal data and messages when connecting to a public network (at airports, coffee shops etc), which is something we do without question or thought, but could have serious repercussions if not secure.
Kaspersky have also offered the below helpful advice to those wondering where on earth to start when it comes to online security.
- Think twice before posting on social media channels and consider the ramifications if something sensitive becomes public knowledge.
- Keep your online credentials and passwords to themselves. Sharing them with family or friends could lead to exploitation and cybercriminals accessing personal information.
- Adopt robust cybersecurity solutions to comprehensively control and protect their sensitive information. Solutions include Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Password Manager.
Do you keep your devices and online activity secure? Do you think you'd be able to fare a week with no white lies?