A look at The Invention of Lying for communication queues

Michael Anderson

A look at The Invention of Lying for communication queues

                The premise of the movie The Invention of Lying is that there is a place in the universe where people are incapable of being deceptive. With no deception or even white lies, the entire populace is completely devoid of the cognition of nonverbal queues.


Ricky Gervais, Rob Lowe, and Jennifer Garner in The Invention of Lying.

The main character Ricky Gervais one day is at the end of his rope. He is broke, he is regularly told that he is unattractive and that his genes would not be a good mix for the person he is dating. While at the bank, something snaps. They had just told him he only had $20 in his account. He lied and stated he actually had a much larger amount. They apologized and credited his account immediately.  The rest of the movie shows some rather hilarious examples of when people don’t understand a lie. One woman he tells that they have to sleep together to save the world, even after she had just turned him down as not genetically valuable. She then agrees immediately to go to a hotel room with him. Throughout the rest of the movie, he creates stories. He makes himself immensely rich, since no one could write fiction, and everything was based off the past. He ends up getting the girl he likes to fall in love with him, and get married in the end. It was a funny movie with a very original premise.

If we lived in a world like that, a good portion of this course wouldn’t exist.  You wouldn’t have to examine someone’s face to see if they are angry or being deceitful.  Being able to take everything at face value. Additionally, in a world such as this, it would be very difficult to normalize or mimic another person’s behaviors to align more closely. People would either like you or not based on what they think. They would also have no problem telling you that they don’t like you. So what would normally be a gentle use of relational messages would now be a blunt force attack with logic trying to get someone to like you. Another example would be chrometics. If you told someone you would meet them at 5, it would be virtually impossible to show up late without some outside force working against you.

Now, there would still be quite a bit of nonverbal communication. For example, proxemics would come into play. People still might feel uncomfortable based on how close you are to them. How people dress and how they look would still play major roles in communication. High context and low context cultures could still exist in this environment. It would just be re-iterated verbally if asked.  Overall, all non-deceptive communication forms would still be present.

The Invention of Lying is a fun little movie to enjoy a night out. Living in that world would be a nightmare of unimaginable proportions. Being called out in the middle of the street for your personal flaws, or out on a date could really ruin your evening. The inability to avoid telling the truth to save your feelings is actually a pretty good defense mechanism. This movie universe would truly make the world a very tragic place.

The invention of lying (DVD). Dir. Rob Lowe. Perf. Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner. Warner Home Video, 2010. DVD.


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