I don’t tolerate bullshit well. I tend to close doors on dishonest people. It’s ironic, actually, since I once made a living by being dishonest. If you call that a living. But eventually I realized that the only thing I actually had in the world was my word. Sure, this sounds like something out of an episode of Bonanza, but it’s true. Not until I was stripped down, nay, leveled down to bare nothing, did I realize that I was only as good as my word. The world didn’t work well for me with the bullshit. So I changed and became honest. And an instant hypocrite, evidently.

It’s said that you can’t bullshit a bullshitter. This is also true. Even when the bullshitter joins the other team. Ordinarily, switching sides would make you a traitor – except for when the idea of deceit is the champion concept of the former team. When you cross the line from dark to light, you don’t really ever go back. When you’re dishonest, you play on both sides. But when you’ve seen the light, you also start to see how deceit swirls around you. In advertising. In politics. In people. In everything. Not that I’ve noticed that deceit is terribly prevalent. Sure, you don’t control much about advertising or politics, but it’s been my experience that most normal people are honest and good. Most people. But when the dark side has its claws in you, it’s fairly obvious. To me, anyway.

Not long after I committed to being honest, I was fucked over by someone I trusted. Granted, I did enough of this to other people in my life up until that point that I was paranoid that everyone was out to get me. And part of me figured I deserved such treatment. But when it happened after I’d come clean, it hurt. And I swore never to trust anyone again. And didn’t for a while. Until one day when someone I cared about explained to me that the only way to really live life was to be willing to trust people and let them in. Of course I laughed at this notion, but the advice resonated and eventually I came to embrace the concept. No, I never forgot about what that guy did to me early on, but I accepted it and moved on. And no, we never became friends again. One can only go so far. The important thing is that I learned to live life while trusting people. And for a couple of decades now it’s worked really well. This is not to say that I haven’t been fucked over again during this time. I have. As you have. That’s just part of life. The important thing is that you learn and move on and be willing to trust again. If you don’t, you may as well become the unibomber.

I try to be honest today. No, I’m no saint. And yes, there are always things that are better left unsaid. But I was once on the side of manipulating people and my life today is, well, a different life. That’s why I have no patience for dishonesty now. I don’t care if it’s a lie about why you were late for a meeting. Don’t lie. Don’t sneak. Don’t be tricksy, precious. Dishonesty absolutely leads to no good. And the world doesn’t need less good.

I once worked for a guy in NY who told me, “Always tell the truth. There’s less to remember.” I was in the throws of a dishonest life at the time, and so his advice didn’t make much of a difference. To prove that irony is like a shadow in my life, the guy who gave me this advice eventually went to prison for fraud. Years later, I remembered what he’d said and realized what a genius statement it was. It indeed was a lot easier to be honest. It always came down to little decisions. When you endeavor to be honest and good in the little decisions you make, this momentum carries over into the big ones. The opposite, however, is also true. Momentum doesn’t care which side its on.

Thoreau said, “After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.” Dishonesty learns how to deal with itself. Yes, I’ve learned how to open up and trust people, but if I catch you being dishonest, your word loses all value with me. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s online or in person, we’re not going to be friends. My honesty is too valuable to waste on bullshit. And life is too short to spend with people who fall for their own lies.


Jim Mitchem

The Penis Window
Once Upon a Time, Sports Was Free

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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