Okay. Let me explain why I lie so much.
In my regular walking-around life, I try to tell the truth the vast majority of the time. For one thing, remembering the lie is exhausting, and besides, I have very little to hide. So the actual facts are usually what you'll get from me.
But I have another, less public life that I don't talk about much. And in that one, I lie my brains out quite frequently. Not on important points, but in the details. I don't have one area of my life I'll tell the truth about in that area. And keep in mind, I write fiction for a living, which is a form of lying (although some will say the real truth comes out in fiction), and that's not even the circumstance I'm discussing.
That's right. I fill out surveys.
I don't remember exactly how I got started, but there are a couple sites that offer "rewards" for answering a few questions, or sometimes a LOT of questions, and I've found the practice to be something of a palate-cleanser when I'm writing. I can stop thinking about what Alison, Samuel, Kay or Rachel is going through at that moment and just respond to prompts that are simple. It's sort of a mindless way to be mindful, and in the end you get some air miles or a gift certificate to an online retailer or two.
So every once in a while I get an email prompting me to check in and see what the topic is going to be today. And almost immediately, I start lying.
The survey generally begins with a screening process. That is, a few preliminary questions are asked to see if the survey subject (that's me) fits the demographic the client (usually a company trying to figure out if people will or already do like its product). So they ask my age, and I tell the truth. I'm 58. Deal with it. They ask my gender. Once again, no reason to deny that I'm male. I figure most of these things are filled out by women, so I'm something of a novelty and that might get me into the survey easier. Fine.
Then the survey will ask for my zip code. I change that one every time it's asked. None of their business exactly where I live. They can ask the NSA if they're that interested. Quite frequently the next question will be about my annual income. No chance they're getting a straight answer on that, because for all I know they're a front for the IRS or people hoping to find rich people's houses to rob on a given evening (in which case I'm actually pretty safe, but that's not the point).
If there's an option to answer, "I'd rather not say," I'll click that, and more times than not I'll immediately get kicked off the survey. That's the way it goes. But sometimes there no such out switch, so I'll vary my answers. Tell them my family of four is subsisting on $5000 a year. Go for the middle of the pack. Close my eyes and click on something, just to see if I'm wealthier than I think I am. I never, ever tell the truth. It's just a rude question. You don't answer those.
I have no such compunction on questions about my health or sexual orientation. Those come up rarely, but if they're there, I'll usually tell the truth. Usually.
Now, if I actually get admitted to the survey, I'll answer all the questions about the product and the subject matter honestly. I don't want to screw up the results of the survey or I wouldn't have agreed to do these things to begin with, $10 gift certificate or no $10 gift certificate. They get the straight data from me where it counts.
But if you want to know my annual income, you'd better be my accountant. And I know what he looks like; he used to be married to my cousin.
Pretty much everything in this post is true, by the way. Almost all of it. As is the fact that WRITTEN OFF is coming June 14 and advance readers are emailing to say they like it, which is always very nice. And the Audible version will be available, but I don't know when exactly. The narrator emailed a few days ago with a question or two.
I told her the complete truth.