The New Truth

I was driving in the car and heard the following statistic: For the first time in eighteen years, on-time arrival statistics for airlines are at an all-time high of more than 60%. Because my nomadic lifestyle has decentralized my circle of friends, I go to the airport a lot. I’m picking up friends, dropping them off, and flying hither and yon. Over the past five years or so, every person who has arrived to visit―and who is flying into good weather―has been early. I mean early. I’ll be on my way to meet a flight arriving at 7:00 p.m., and a text will come at 6:35 p.m. saying, “Landed.” Landed? Really? I hate being late, and I have finally figured out that the airlines are ‘loading’ the arrival times―adding extra time to their estimates so they can have that “arriving on time” status. It’s based on a lie.

This brings up a larger issue. If you cheat, you are not really winning. If you are American Airlines (I’m giving them a plug here because they are in bankruptcy and I feel bad for them), and you load the front end of the arrival times, how can you take pride in your strong on-time stats? You can’t. Just like that friend of mine who I know cheats at Words with Friends is not really beating me by two hundred points. Or those golfers who don’t turn in every score to get an accurate handicap. You know who you are. But I watch them all, and I don’t think they feel worse about winning with jaded data than those who win honestly.

Life wasn’t always like this. Was it harder to cheat? Or, did we just not see it so easily? The line separating reality from fantasy, fact from fiction, truth from lies, seemed so much clearer. The stats say the average person lies an average of twenty-six times a day. “How are you feeling?” “Great, and you?” A lie. Posting on Facebook, “Enjoying the sunrise.” A lie. “I’m only a few minutes away.” “I did read the entire e-mail.” Not so much.

And so it goes. Reality TV is another good example. The cameras are rolling, and the people being filmed know it. I promise you, it’s not documenting their day. Their day is driven by the camera. This new world of Facebook, reality TV, documentaries, and blue ribbons awarded for cheating means we are blurring the lines between truth and lies.

So here is the thing. The high of winning, or improving statistics within your industry, or just plain being authentic is something we can all decide to do for ourselves. I am not going to fly one airline or another based on arrival times that are not based on accurate data. And, I’m not going to say something nice on Facebook if I’m not feeling it.

And, how are you feeling about this post?

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