Truthiness and its discontents

Answering questions is difficult for me.

There’s the obvious baseline of me not wanting to divulge any information about myself, to begin with. Then, there’s being put on the spot — not my forte.

But the trickiest part is always deciding exactly what to say.

I mean, I suppose I could talk about something for hours and come close to articulating all the myriad ways I think and feel about it. But even then the result would be framed by the way I chose to begin and end it, what I emphasized. And even still it would be hopelessly muddied by my feelings on dozens of different parameters at the precise time of speaking (and those feelings are very likely to change during the course of speaking).

I hope it’s no longer perplexing, at the very least, that I choose instead to keep it brief.

Later, when those feelings change, I yearn to return to the answer. “Oh, about your question last week — I just want you to know that what I said was what really happened now feels empirically false and I would like to set the record straight.” And again and again forever, if I got started on the revisions.

I’m left wondering: If I had told someone about the bad things that happened to me when they were still open wounds, would I be able to compile my feelings about reality more efficiently?

If the people I did tell had believed me and validated me instead of saying, I can’t believe you stayed, saying, quote “I can’t think of you the same way anymore.”

I was weak, it’s true, and now I seek strength in my ability to bend the truth to my will.

And I do love to quote people. I memorize things they say to use as ammunition, finally certain that I’ve caught the true meaning of their communication in those words, manhandling them over and over in my head as I imagine re-doing the conversation with my current truth.

I guess it’s not surprising that I got into journalism.  I know in my bones that objective truth doesn’t exist, but I do believe we can approximate it by combining several people’s perspectives.

And, of course, I’m a pro at finding the best angle for the objective I currently want to meet. (That’s different from spinning, which I also do, and different from outright lying … which only happens accidentally, blurted out too quickly on matters of little to no importance).

It’s frustrating that while I don’t believe at all in the notion of truth, I continue to be bogged down by the idea that there is a right, and a wrong, and that my truthiness lies somewhere in this dichotomy.

The answer is, I guess, that I’m pretty sure I’m doing my best to do what’s right. And that includes telling the truth — to the best of my abilities.


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