A world of lies

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A world of lies


The lies that the comedienne Lee Young-ja told during a TV program have become a hot topic. Although she has begged to be forgiven, saying that she was just exaggerating to make the show more entertaining, the criticism is unlikely to stop soon. After all, Lee’s TV career was damaged once before by lies.
Lies in the media become more frequent every day. In talk and entertainment shows, lies prevail that exaggerate gossip or glorify bizarre experiences. The excuse is always that the lies were “just to have fun.” Another comedian, who appeared on an SBS late night talk show, surprised people when he said he was having a relationship with a famous singer, only to reveal later that he was lying. The lie was broadcast several times as if it were true.
It is always hard to tell whether the so-called love between stars is real or another promotional gambit. Documentaries and news programs are no exception. One documentary caused controversy by dramatically exaggerating the story of a participant.
The message that people take from these shows is that it’s okay to lie, to cheat and to mislead as long as it’s entertaining and somebody makes a lot of money.
The biggest problem is caused by those lies that are not crystal clear. TV has become a huge world of lies. Politicians on debate programs lie that the world will become a better place if they are elected. Soap operas lie that love is forever. Of course the biggest lies are found in commercials ― for example, you will automatically become part of high society if you live in an apartment that bears an English name.
Professor Kim Doo-sik criticizes the way Korean society encourages lies. The pledge to the national flag, he says, is a collective ritual that makes everyone in the nation a liar. The fact that we so frequently go through annoyingly complicated procedures for identification purposes also presupposes that everyone lies.
The only fortunate thing is that people have developed a capacity not to be fooled by politicians after too much experience of political manipulation.
Some reports say humans lie, on average, 200 times per day, including unintended lies and white lies. The cognitive scientist David Livingston Smith argues that lies produce advantages for human evolution and says that modern people should be called homo fallax, that is, humans that cheat one another.
Still, this is too much. TV programs use lies and, by saying it was all for fun, make TV viewers their accomplice. But they do not understand this kind of lie is not fun at all. We see them too often in politics.

*The writer is a deputy culture and sports editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Yang Sung-hee [shyang@joongang.co.kr]
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