It’s Lying if They Don’t Know You’re Joking

Tonight I watched the finale of Survivor’s 15th season. I remember the first season application deadline was Spring of 1999. It’s clearly become an American Icon.

Tonight Dreamz’ decision to reneg on his promise to Yau Man was distasteful to me. As I spoke with friends about the situation, I realized the most generous I could be is to recognize the scoping of the game. In other words, does the scope and boundary of the game allow you to be someone you’re not in the real world?

Dreamz swore with God’s name and spoke of the mandatory witness to his son and other kids he would help. Privately and invididually to the production cameras he implied the same, so it wasn’t just to influence other players. Later he claimed he planned to lie and mislead all the way along because it’s only part of the game. In essence, he claimed lying in the scope of the game isn’t the same as lying outside the scope of the game, in real life.

When my children were between the ages of 3 and 7, I was challenged to teach them when lying is wrong, and when lying is only “kidding” or “joking”. The most reliable standard I came up with was that it counts as lying if the other person doesn’t know you’re joking.

Dreamz should have stood on such a standard. I was surprised that nobody mentioned either of two facts: 1) by hanging onto the necklace, he did not have a chance at the prize, because nobody would vote for him, and 2) by giving up the necklace he would have made much more than the million dollar prize value by being a true role model to other homeless, and inner city kids, and minorities. I mean “much more” both figuratively and quantitatively. Think of the book deals and speaking tours. These would have replaced the $1M taxable prize money with much more than that as business income, with huge tax write-offs for touring the country or even the world.

Hang onto your life and lose it. Or lose your life to save it. This isn’t theoretical mumbo jumbo. Do you see that it’s real and pragmatic?

About Brian

Engineer. Aviator. Educator. Scientist.
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