According to the behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves, “Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats”—but “just by a little.”What we’re negotiating now, though, is a phenomenon unique to this technological moment: suddenly, our tendency to tell a lot of little lies has found a lot of little ways to express itself.The digital world offers a dizzying array of methods for deception, ranging from the “stuck at work” text message (actual cause of tardiness: You Tube) to the “damn spam filter” e‑mail (real reason for non-reply: forgetfulness) to the “partyyyy! Monkeys may lie to each other, but it’s humans who, in our ingenuity, have found ways to make those lies newly plentiful and newly nuanced and newly awkward, 1.65-ish times a day. Research suggests that the expanding opportunities we’ve created for dishonesty are balanced by another expansion: the increased potential for getting caught. Or Manti Te’o, the college-football star whose cancer-stricken “girlfriend” was recently revealed, via social media, to have been an elaborate hoax.
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Those connections, furthermore, will be increasingly well documented. The successful liar may still require an extraordinary memory; the question is what happens when we encounter technologies that refuse to forget.
Hancock points out that his young daughter “will grow up in a world where not only much of what she says gets recorded, but probably much of what she does.” The technologies that change the way we think about privacy will also, inevitably, change the way we think about honesty.
The same is true for the Social Justice Sports Network known as ESPN.
One of the reasons ESPN is in real trouble and about to lay off some famous folks, is cord-cutting -- people waking up and canceling their cable or satellite subscriptions.
“Even though these lies were very frequent, the magnitude was quite small,” Nicole Ellison, one of the study’s co-authors, told me.
That seems to hold true beyond the world of dating, both on- and offline.
In 2012, Cashwell was indicted in federal courts in North Carolina for workers’-compensation fraud. According to a 2011 survey, people in the United States do so, on average, 1.65 times a day.
And it’s not just Americans—or, for that matter, humans—who deceive: recent studies of 24 other primate species found that they regularly lie to one another.
Whether we imagine them to be “digital exhaust,” as many tech theorists do, or fodder for a bits-based Big Brother, as Orwell might have, our Facebook timelines and e‑mail chains and cellphone logs are leaving copious and minutely detailed records of our lives. Résumés posted to Linked In, another of his studies found, contained fewer lies than their pulp-printed counterparts. Whether we’re communicating via clay tablets or telegraph wires or fiber-optic cables, our deceptions are kept in check by an overarching fact that has little to do with technology and everything to do with community: we want other people to trust us.