In "The Ways We Lie," by Stephanie Ericsson, the author depicts the
many ways people lie and the consequences for doing so. Ericsson defines a lie as “a false
statement or action especially made with the intent to deceive.” She then continues to
characterize lying into ten different categories. These range from the harmless “White Lie” to the
dangerous lie “Delusion” in which we lie to ourselves. Ericsson argues, “We lie. We all do. We
exaggerate, we minimize, we avoid confrontation, we spare people’s feelings, we conveniently
forget, we keep secrets, we justify lying to the big-guy institutions.” The author believes that
lying is an essential component of life, however “There is a world of difference between telling
functional lies and living a lie.”(167), and individually people need to decide how much they
want to lie and how much they want to be lied too. The purpose of her essay is to illustrate the
significance of each and every lie told, no matter how big or small. By using anecdotes,
figurative language, and the classification of lies, Ericsson’s argument is easily accessible and
forces self reflection on the impact of our lies.
Ericsson uses personal anecdotes to establish ethos by making the
essay personal. She opens the essay by describing various lies she encounters in her day to day
life. For instance, lying about the bank check being in the mail so there isn’t a late fee, telling her
husband that everything is ‘fine’ to avoid adding stress and lying to her friend to spare their
feelings. While discussing stereotypes and cliches, the author asserts that all people are guilty of
stereotyping hence making it a vital part of our modern communication. She even shares her
personal experience; “I once admitted to a group of people that I had a mouth like a truck driver.
Much to my surprise, a man stood up and said, “I’m a truck driver, and I never cuss.” Needless to
say, I was humbled.”(164) As well as personal anecdotes, there are...