Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Honesty?

Maybe some opinions don’t deserve to see the light of day

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Honesty is the best policy, right? I say no, no, no, no. And let’s add on one more no, just for good measure. I would also like to propose two kinds of “honesty”, only one of which I think actually involves honesty.

First, you’ve got things that can be answered or described objectively. Let’s say I ask you if I have any lettuce stuck in my teeth? Unless you don’t have a clear view of my dental situation, that’s a clear yes or no answer, with no room for interpretation. You might not feel comfortable mentioning the lettuce, but if you don’t, I’d say that qualifies as a lie. A white lie, but a lie, all the same.

Then you’ve got opinions, which are inherently subjective. They don’t have any objective, literal truth to them; they’re just chitter-chatter inside our heads. We’re all judgmental, and sometimes those judgments are pretty yucky. Embarrassing yucky. I don’t want to be the person that thinks these things kind of yucky. And that’s okay… as long as it stays inside your head.

Inside your head, it’s just a thought. Outside your head, it could be you being an asshole. There’s no need to inflict that on the world without a good reason.

If your partner asks your honest opinion about whether the outfit they’ve got on makes their butt look like a hippopotamus, there are a few things to consider in that honesty. Whether their butt looks like a hippopotamus, a rhinoceros, or a blue whale, do you like that butt, whatever size it is? Are you hoping to get with that butt later tonight? Or ever again, for that matter? So maybe, what’s honest is that you love that butt, and even more than just the butt, the rest of the person that’s attached to it.

Do you really want to be the asshole that criticizes the outfit that’s attached to that butt you love?

On the other hand, toilet paper attached to one’s shoe or clothing visibly tucked into underwear is a fully objective situation, and you’d best be bringing it with the honesty (and if you don’t, you might be losing access to that butt).

Keeping certain things to ourselves is the social lubricant that makes the world go ‘round. We all have our moments when we look ugly, act stupid, and are a massive pain in the ass—possibly separately, possibly all at the same time. That’s part of being human. We’re all 100% likely to have each of those moments at some point in time, but society works because most of us are sensible enough to keep a lid on it instead of calling people out on it. Except on social media, of course; then it’s just a shitstorm.

And this honesty about opinions nonsense? That applies to your inner chitchat about yourself too. Self-judgments are opinions, and they don’t deserve any more airing than the hate-on you’ve got for your neighbour’s mullet (and airing that hate-on might just get your ass kicked).

So, the next time you think about being honest, consider, is this a toilet paper stuck to shoe scenario, or an I like big butts and I cannot lie scenario? Think it over, and adapt your actions accordingly.

Originally published at https://mentalhealthathome.org on January 19, 2021.

Mental health blogger | Former MH nurse | Living with depression | Author of 3 books, latest is Managing the Depression Puzzle | mentalhealthathome.org

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