Fingers Crossed

So this wasn't cool: The other day--Tuesday morning, to be exact--I got caught red-handed by a Starbucks barista, doing... well, I, ah... I guess you could call it..."the exact opposite of tipping"? Yup, the overzealous, twentysomething coffee guy managed to turn just in time to espy my fingers in the tip jar, pulling out a wad of bills--one five, the rest ones--and jamming 'em into my pocket. The fact that this act was not committed for personal gain but instead as a social protest against the outfit that introduced pressuring the public to add gratuities for counter people (like gouging on the java wasn't enough?)--a stunt later copied by the likes of 7-Eleven, pizza shops, dry cleaners and even the ice cream man--suddenly seemed irrelevant, paling in comparison to my newfound precarious fate. I stood there momentarily, weighing my options, a certain primal fear taking over.

Okay, so that didn't happen... Yeah, I lied. Made the whole thing up. Sorry to pull the rug out from under you like that, but, while part of my job is to inform, the other is to entertain, and getting caught stealing seemed like the way to go. Truth be told, this piece is about lying, so, in essence, that first paragraph was kind of necessary, ya' know, to set the tone, which sounds completely unwarranted in today's climate as the all-powerful Lord of Falsehoods reigns supreme while Truth has obviously gone into hiding in an underground bunker with enough food, water and supplies to outlast the next two world wars (no doubt occurring due to excess worldwide lying). Things are so bad that my earlier phrase, "truth be told", should be retired and given a gold watch with the inscription "Yeah, how'd that work out for you?"

Indeed, lying is having what you would call a heyday, an unrivaled run, its name plastered on the spotlit marquee of the only show in town. It's got agents, managers, handlers, chauffeurs, masseurs, more sychophants than you could shake a crooked stick at, and a whole slew of media scribes at the ready on the off chance another juicy fabrication makes the scene. It hangs out in political arenas, the court system, religious institutions, the press, advertising agencies, both big and small businesses, pro sports and seemingly in every other person's life that has access to the internet. "Spin", "Alternate Facts" and "Gut Feeling" are just a few of its many aliases. To say it's trending would be a disservice to the actual entities that might be on an upswing. No, lying is way past trending. Lying's arrived with all its baggage, looking about the place not like it's just on vacation; like it's here to stay!

In the past, the expected duplicitous entities were easy to spot: lawyers, politicians, car salesmen (any salesmen, really) and every husband when asked by their wife if this dress makes their butt look big. Now, fibbery is afoot at every juncture. How did this happen? In looking back, it's pretty obvious: our indoctrination really began as kids in the form of innocuous "little white lies" (somehow permitted?) and the classic "fingers crossed behind your back", ya' know, to cancel out the whoppers. Couple that with the "liar, liar, pants on fire" admonition losing all credibility once you've taken part in and observed countless deceptions without ever witnessing a trouser blaze and you've got a solid falsification base. Next, add in the plethora of social devices at our beck and call, providing a certain anonymity leading to unaccountability--just a hop, skip and jump from lying through our teeth. And finally, cue the multitude of websites spouting all kinds of prevarications sans fact-checking and you have the recipe for a big, fat untruthy casserole.

So, yeah, tell me somethin' I don't already know, right? That's the life we live so just roll with the punches. "Que Sera, Sera" and all that... But what if there was something we could do about it, say using a social device for actual good (I know, crazy, right?). An iPhone, privy to your every call, text and video, able to fact-check lying in real time and possessing facial recognition--actual proof of the culprit--equipped with the ability to produce a shock upon touch, the severity and amount contingent on the falsehood itself. The scenario: A person lies on their device and is immediately zapped, the untruth they're being punished for printed out on the iPhone screen in hand. Over time, they're intermittently shocked (thus not being able to guard against it) until they've paid their dues, the iPhone letting them know when their debt's been satisfied... I hear ya', you're getting goosebumps just thinkin' about it.

Alright, I realize this is one of those "small steps for mankind" things but it's a start. Get people to rethink lying and, who knows, maybe the real players--big business, the political system and all the rest--will follow suit. Maybe the world will become a nicer place. So whadya' say, are you on board?... C'mon, I've got a "gut feeling" this'll work. Just trust me here. Hey, have I ever lied to you before?