Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

Lie to Me

Buffy the Vampire Slayer holds a special place in my heart as a beloved television show that managed to convey rather complex ideas to a somewhat young audience. In particular, “Lie to Me,” an episode from the second season, sees the main character obtain a more mature understanding about the power of deception. Examining the Slayer’s interaction with her mentor, audiences can instantly grasp a sense of Buffy’s internal struggle—one that does not lie in the realm of the supernatural but is entirely human—to make sense of a chaotic and complicated world. Through her words, Buffy demonstrates a desire for falsity that extends beyond a simple “white lie”; Buffy (momentarily) concedes to an untruth governing the fundamental operation of her world in order to decrease her cognitive dissonance.

Deception, in its many forms, can aim to reduce the cost of obtaining something of value (e.g., goods, services, protection, contentment, etc.). While animals will employ this tactic (e.g., mimicry) for self-preservation, human beings have taken the practice to more complex levels. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as we slowly exit the Age of Information, many current deceptive practices revolve around the manipulation of knowledge. Online, we might “fudge” our profile pictures in an attempt to lessen the rejection that we so desperately seek to avoid in real life; we might also alter a personal characteristic in order to test the waters of a new identity in an environment that dampens anxiety and judgment. Yet, while the relative ease of online deception confers us[1] some cognitive defense, it also threatens to overwhelm us with delusion.

We lie to others and, perhaps even worse, lie to ourselves. We look outward for acceptance and affirmation instead of delving inward to confront the deepest parts of ourselves. Technology has allowed us, as individuals, to connect over vast differences and afforded us many opportunities that we might not otherwise have; yet, in some ways, it has also left us disconnected from the things that (arguably) matter the most.


[1]  And our fragile male egos!

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