I’m out filming a movie in Franklin, TX right now, and we were just sitting around the campfire swapping scary stories. I took a ghost story that my friend had told to me, and made it my own. In this setting, I think it’s fine. Someone actually asked me afterwards if it had actually happened to me. I confessed it was based on a true story that my friend had experienced, but I wasn’t as involved as I had said in the story. I was just telling a story.
The trouble comes when we use our ability to embellish, create intrigue, or make someone elses story our own outside of the context of a storytelling medium. You see this in business a lot, at least I have. People making a “mountain out of a mole hill”, or making some accomplishment sound like it’s far greater than it actually is. Marketing, as Seth Godin more than covered, is just really good storytelling. However, it’s storytelling not lying. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are the same thing.
Jimmy Kimmel frequently takes advantage of this tendency in people and flaunts it for entertainment. He’s doing us all a service by reminding us that we don’t have to lie just to fit in.
Lying about yourself creates a false foundation to stand on. And, if you build your house on a bad foundation, at some point it will crack or fall apart.
I have had some points in my life where I fell victim to feeling the need to “tell a story” to impress people. I remind myself everyday that I have the permission to just be me with my own set of experiences and values. I can tell a good story, but I never have to lie.