I’ve always been suspicious of old folks for as long as I can remember. I never start off intending to but I find myself not being readily capable of believing or accepting a lot of the things they say. I never immediately question their intentions though; it’s just the way they carry their intentions out verbally that always seems dubious. The things they say just don’t seem to make much sense and I could never really figure out where they’re coming from. That’s always seem to be the way things are with old folks even as I grow older. Now that I have become one myself I’m still suspicious of old folks. So now that I am an old folk, let me check if I know enough to understand what’s behind it all; especially to ensure that I am not doing myself that which I doubt. Consider this an inside scoop on old folks’ lies.
They don’t lie outright. If you were to bluntly bring out what they say as lies you would genuinely hurt them. So never do that if they are loved ones. That’s because I don’t believe that they mean or even know that they’re lying. Theirs is not about mere untruths, but more about the delusion of truth. Let me try to put this into a list on what I have come to understand about the whys and the hows of Old Folks’ Lies.
- Old folks know best.
The human mind always need to make sense of life and the world around. That’s why we constantly find ourselves trying to understand and having opinions and making conclusions on things. During darker ages when there was not much access to knowledge or even actual knowledge itself, folks based their conclusions of things through much simpler means. For instance, that’s how superstitions are born; when there are no answers through logic, folks from the past came up with mythological, mystical and supernatural explanations to things.
And for a long while, these simplistic views will be the ways to explain the various phenomena around life and the world. As knowledge increases and become more accessible, not all minds are willing to accept intellectual enlightenment if they find that it requires rigorous mental energy and agility, especially if it means questioning what they were told by the elders before, especially the loved ones. Hence, things become cast in stone, never to be changed for all times even if the level of enquiry at later times have managed to falsify them without too much effort.
For folks who have aged with this attitude, with an unwillingness to question or rediscover what they were told by the old folks before them, they will tell you things which would not have much logic or make much sense anymore. Their unwillingness would also drive them to insist that there is only one way to view things and since they have stuck to that oneness and got to reach where they are with it, you should too regardless of whether it suits your condition or circumstances. You just have to accept that they know best, even if you find them to be untrue.
- The bogeyman
I’ve had my share of spook stories growing up. These were the spooky things that I could expect to appear or happen as a consequence of my chosen path of behaviour. This greatly contributed to my earlier fear of the dark and constant vigilance for the devil’s minions, demons, bloodsuckers, restless souls and even dead relatives. Due to having an unrelenting enquiring mind, I discovered that these were just ways of old folks dealing with the unbridled energy of youth without having to exert too much energy themselves. It was so much easier for them to dispense these horrors to scare the young ‘uns from doing what would have taken too much energy from them to prevent physically.
This was probably my first indication that the old folks were lying because I’ve played hide and seek at dusk and have never been captured, kidnapped and smothered by the ghost with enormous breasts. Nor have I experienced that snake that is suppose to appear each time an umbrella is open in the house.
Essentially, what this illustrates is that old folks are quick to point out to you the outcome of your actions, regardless of how ridiculous those outcomes sound.
- Those were the days.
Old folks always like falling back to their past for lessons to be extracted from. When they do that they always make it sound so rosy and much more brighter than the present. I always thought that their past was in black and white or warm sepia tones.
But of course the past would have been much better folks, simply by the simple fact that it has already happened. The unpredictability and the unknown of what consequences would be has already been removed when recollecting past events. Even if you could remember the harshest points in your past, you already know now the outcome of those moments; even though at the time you would have the anxiety due to the fact that you cannot imagine what the end result could be. So it’s pointless to bring the past up as equal to present events because the present still has in it the unpredictability and unknownability of how things could end up. Only a pathological moron would insist that what will happen now will be exactly the same as in the past.
What makes us anxious about the present is the unknowable results of where it could lead to or end up– which explains why some of us need to believe in astrology or have our fortune told. Even if we quote fate and destiny, none of us could actually say what the ultimate fate or destiny is.
So blindly referring back to the past in order to appease for the present is hardly an act of wisdom. It’s simply the comfort of sentimentality for those who have lived it, which is hardly useful for us who did not live it then but have to live in our present.
- Fetish for fallacies.
If you were to approach an old folk with a truth, and you find that it does not concur with theirs, you could find yourself walking away thinking that you were wrong all along and that they are irrevocably correct; only to find out later that you were right all along and they were irrevocably wrong. So what gives, how were you suckered as such? That’s because they use certain facets of fallacious argument techniques against you with the intended result of bringing you to their point of view not by any sense of logic but more often than not, by sheer guilt. Favourites amongst the fallacies in arguments used by old folks are:
- Argumentum ad verecundiam [Appealing to authority] – They pull rank by sheer fact that they’re older than you, therefore they’ve lived longer, experienced more, know more, so you should not doubt anything they have to say, even in circumstances you’ve never known them to be in before.
- A priori fallacies – this relates to point one on this list where all things that have been accepted before shall be true for all times. So whatever they tell you is what they’ve been told so you should just accept it unquestioningly.
- Argumentum ad baculinum – If you don’t agree with them they’ll get medieval on your ass or put a hex on you, or fail you, or something to that effect.
- Argumentum ad hominem – Simply put, you have not lived as long as they have, nor experienced as much as them, nor know as much, hence you young ‘uns just can’t be right. In other words you are wrong simply by virtue of your age.
- Argumentum ad ignorantiam – If you do not know something as much as they do not know of the same thing, then it just can’t be true. That means if old folks don’t know it, therefore it can’t be true.
- Argumentum ad misericordiam – This one just sucks you into a vortex of self pity by reminding that you are disagreeing with a much more old and frail soul that is going to die soon, with complete disregard to your own logic or mortality.
- Non sequiturs – You bring something up of your own and they take it over with something of their own, and it goes further and further from where you intended in the first place. It’s like you bring something up about school and they go on about their schooldays during the war and finish with how the Japanese surrendered to the British.
And the list could go on and on, but I reiterate, them old folks are not intending to lie to us. It’s just that they believe their version of the truth is the only correct one. That’s understandable if you think about it as being ingrained within them throughout the years and carried them through their lives, or so they make themselves believe.
So, say that you go to them for advise because you believe that wisdom comes with age – there will be either genuine care and concern to help you out, or narcissist enjoyment on the egotistical fact that they are indispensible to others, especially the young ‘uns. Either way, they will still dispense what they can with the best of intentions. I have no doubt of that. And it is definitely uncalled for to call them liars simply by the negative connotation of that word which does not apply to them by virtue of the sincerity of their intentions. That means old folks may lie, but they are not liars
Therefore, if only liars lie that can only mean that they don’t, hence you will just accept everything they say as truth until such time you mature into your senses and realise that it was not truth all along, and that is where you begin to see the fakery – the flimsy wooden props behind the monolith.
And sadly enough, there were those amongst us who just kick those props away to let the monolith come crashing down onto them, simply because they could not see the point in scaling it anymore.