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What Happens When Nonfiction Gets Twisted?


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I have a friend who honestly believes fiction is a waste of time. (Ok, it’s a kind of ex I’m still friends with) I have written on why this isn’t true.

We got into a debate over fiction vs. non a long while ago and he was arguing the merits of nonfiction.

Now, he is a very intelligent man who knows how to argue, which the lawyer in me appreciates, so he made some good points. (Him being so smart plus the fact that he is a serious leftist teaching economics chills me to my very core  🙂

Sorry, couldn’t help the digression. 🙂

I already took up the side of fiction, so let’s look at non.

What’s the point of nonfiction?

Histories, true crime books, biographies, how to books, news, ect…

What do all of these have in common?

They teach you something.

That was my friend’s main argument, that they teach you something about the world around you. They are useful. My argument for fiction was they teach you things about emotions and yourself. How to feel things, reach a catharsis, ignite the imagination, learn through these other experiences even though they weren’t real in our world.

He thought that was touchy feeling woo woo girly stuff and I stuck my tongue out at him. 🙂

We have a very mature relationship 🙂

But nonfiction is there to educate you. To say this is what happened and why, this is how you do this, this is what’s going on in the world.

So it does have its place. It does have its point.

What happens when nonfiction gets twisted though? When the “truth” is no longer that, when it is exaggerated, taken out of context, had important parts left out, ect…

No, think about it, what happens?

The trust is destroyed.

Journalists now are learning the hard way (please tell me they are actually learning something from all this), that when they are caught twisting the truth, leaving out pertinent facts, or just outright not reporting something because they don’t like the story it tells, people lose faith in them.

You can only lie so much before it catches up to you.

And a lie of omission is a lie.

If there is one thing I would say those loosing the public’s faith are guilty of, it’s lies of omission.

I have another friend who has a very bad habit of lies of omission. Basically he thinks if he’s not asked directly that him not mentioning it is perfectly fine. He goes with the, anything you say can and will be used against you mentality, so he discloses as little as possible.

Recently a lie of omission caught up to him and now he is caught in limbo, waiting to see what the fallout will be. I can’t go into more detail because he reallllly would not appreciate it, regardless of if I named him or not, but him leaving something out has bit him in the ass, the people are now asking him for more proof for what he’s asking for, because they no longer trust him, and he’s pretty sure it will haunt him for years.

The trust was broken.

I have another sort of friend who’s recounting of a story I was there for was waaaaaaay off, so off that I question whether anything this person has told me is true.

Another friend has been internet dating and he says if he goes there and the girl lied about what she looked like, he’s leaving. Not because he’s shallow, but because if she lied about that to get him there, what else would she lie about?

Because when you lie one time, you call everything into question.

Those are personal stories, but they illustrate the greater picture. That the trust we have in nonfiction is crumbling. That those who have been painting us a picture are being caught in their lies and scrambling to cover them up or justify them. That not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth will come back to bite you in the ass.

And once that trust is gone?

Once you have broken it?

It is very difficult to get it back.

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