Let sleeping dogs lie
What is honesty? Telling the truth? For that matter, what is truth? Hang on. I’m about to go deep.
As regular readers of this blog will already know, this year will be my 10th anniversary of working in the ecommerce industry. Along the way I’ve learned a few things, but none more stark or challenging than what I’ve faced in terms of honesty vs. dishonesty, truth vs. lies, trustworthiness vs. deception, and facts vs. lies.
Thinking back on my “career” I realize, of course, that this phenomenon is clearly not isolated to ecommerce. Not based on what I’ve seen during my experiences. If I really think it over, I can find examples of every employer I’ve ever dealt with being lying assholes. Every single job I’ve ever had taught me important life lessons like these.
Editor’s Note: At this point the writing process went decidedly sideways. The 10,000 words that followed have been cut and saved in a draft post called “My Resume.” It detailed life lessons learned from every single job I’ve ever had and in excruciating detail. Maybe somewhere over the rainbow that post will see the light of day. Until then, however, I’ve self-corrected the diversion and will now continue with the topic at hand: honesty.
Under the context of my career, I recently realized that honesty (or lack thereof) has been the Bugaboo peeking over my shoulder every step of the way. So I’ve been thinking and pondering about it quite a bit.
My last two employers have been very religious folk. Even as an atheist I would surmise that would elevate them a cut above your average bear, at least in terms of honesty. That has decidedly not been the case.
Confused by this, I turned to the word of God for enlightenment. After all, isn’t “thou shalt not lie” one of the biggies on God’s top ten list?
Turns out it’s not. Well, not exactly.
First of all, the Bible was written by humans. It is not the direct word of God. Remember that game we played as children? Stand in a line, whisper something, then pass it on down the line. More often than not, something gets changed during the act of passing the communication along. Do you think it’s possible that anything like that could have conceivably crept into the writing of the Bible by those human hands?
Then I remembered when some public figure was raising a ruckus about having a 5,000 pound monument of the ten commandments on public lands. He was asked by a reporter if he could name all ten commandments. He couldn’t. (What a shocker.) Perhaps that’s why he needed the reminder around.
The words “thou shalt not lie” (or their translated equivalents) don’t exist in the Bible. What the Bible actually says is:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
See: Translations of Exodus 20:16
As an idiot layman, I’ve always taken this at face value. In other words, “do not lie.” It turns out, that for some, it’s not quite so simple.
According to Wikipedia, there are three schools of thought regarding the “false witness” commandment:
- It’s a narrow prohibition against lying in courtroom testimony
- It only applies to false statements that degrade a neighbor’s reputation or dignity
- It’s a prohibition on all lying
Wow! Who knew there could ever be so much disagreement about something as seemingly concrete as a commandment from God?
It seems to me that the Bible often works like this. One section will say, “Always do X but never do Y.” Then another section will say, “Always do Y but never do X.” Thus, you don’t simply read the Bible and do what it says. It has to be subjected to a round of interpretation first. That phase of understanding is done by humans to the word of God in an attempt to divine the real meaning. You’ll often hear people speak about how a certain text can only be understood within a certain “context” or by comparing it to other passages to get the overall meaning. That sort of thing is dangerous because it leaves things open to many varying interpretations.
As an atheist, I’m woefully free of such considerations. Some have said, “Without God there can be no ethics.” I argue the opposite. Without having to ponder and study a religious text, I can simply say, “I will not lie.” I don’t have to comb through the Bible for exceptions.
Consider the people who believe the command in the narrowest possible sense, that it only applies to courtroom testimony. The logical extension of that belief is: “It is not necessarily wrong to lie anywhere else.”
Consider the second example, where lying is only prohibited when it causes harm. I call this one the “business lie” clause. The ecommerce people who’ve engaged me in debate about the ethics of what they do frequently cite various versions of this. “I’m not hurting anyone with the lie.” The logical extension of this? “Therefore the lying is acceptable.”
I argue that my belief is actually the freest one of all. I’m unencumbered by faulty logic and justifications. I simply get to concentrate on trying to be as honest as I possibly can. In logical terms, my position regarding lying is the most ethical, not a narrower definition as allowed by some interpretation of the Bible.
By the way, guess who squeals the most when someone is on the receiving end of dishonesty? Yup. You guessed it. These very same people who lie on their websites as a matter of routine. When that happens you can bet your ass it is a Federal case. That’s hypocrisy, a close personal friend of dishonesty. They skip together through life hand in hand.
In my opinion, telling the truth isn’t about positive or negative. However, I still feel pretty darn negative about what I’ve seen in the business world and, more specifically, ecommerce. And that’s the truth!
Come visit us at the store!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: TOM B. TAKER
TEL: FUCK YOU
CELL PHONE: EAT MY SHIT
EMAIL: SHOUTABYSS (AT) LIVE (DOT) COM
JANUARY 14, 2011
SHOUT ABYSS BLOG EXPANDS TO NEW HQ
Here we grow again!
Capital City, Abyssia – Some asshole once said, “You can’t stop progress.” Well, progress is probably the absolute worst kind of change, so we’re rolling in it like pigs in shit right about now.
To celebrate 14 pretty good days here on the blog in 2011 (so far) we shot our wad on a shiny new building that will serve as our HQ for the next few weeks and beyond. Pretty hot shit, eh?
This location will help us usher in a new era of futile lameness here on the blog. There’s a whole wing devoted solely to poop. The remainder of space is split evenly between the G.R.I.P.E. research lab for continuing gerbil studies, product reviews (send us your shit and we’ll tell the world how you suck), guest blog facilities (the drain in the floor of our uni-sex showers), and Tom’s personal office (annexed next to the only working toilet in the entire building – some things never change).
Marvel at this structure. We spared no expense. We even hastily sandblasted the monument sign out front and glued our name where some other damn company’s name used to exist. That exudes permanence and class. You can’t fake sincerity like that.
So, here’s the deal. I realized today that I’m batting a thousand (two out of two) in the category: “Ecommerce companies that make FAKE photoshopped pictures of buildings where they’ve never actually been located.”
It works a little something like this:
- Finally graduate from your home office and/or garage and get a pure piece of shit location that makes your eyes bleed because it is so motherfucking ugly.
- Steal a photo of some other company’s building from the internet.
- Crappily photoshop your name onto that building so it’s painfully obvious you are lying scum and that you are going a zillion miles out of your way to insult the intelligence of your customers.
Remember, if you are doing business in this great country of ours, in pursuit of the almighty dollar, the last thing you ever want to do is be honest. If some residual bit of your humanity balks at this sort of outright fraud, take it out back and slit its throat. Money is on the fucking line here!
I shit you not. Two for two! That’s nothing to sneeze at!
Of course my last boss did this. I worked there for over five years, the whole time knowing an entirely fictional picture of our store was featured on our company web site. He even had pictures of fake employees on the Staff page. The assholio butt munch of a boss thought he was so clever, photoshopping his company name onto a building owned by someone else. The quality was laughable.
At my new job the boss is much nicer but ever since I’ve took this job I suspected he did the same thing. (I actually suspected even before my interview when I showed up and the building looked nothing like what was on his web site.) Today he confirmed it. “Yippie-ki-yay motherfucker and welcome to the party, pal!”
To continue the Die Hard references to their logical conclusion, as Detective John McClain was often wont to say, “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”
How indeed. It’s not easy being me.
I’ve been in the ecommerce business for 10 years and I can’t even begin to tell you about all of the fake shit that has been forever burned into my eyeballs. Do not trust companies that sell on the internet. Ever. They lie, they lie! Bunch of motherfuckers. From the year they went into business (a lie) to the customer reviews (written by the CEO) to the picture of the store (a photoshopped lie) to the number of customers they’ve served (a totally made up number incremented daily by a randomizing program) to the status of products listed as “in stock” (when they really aren’t) – everything they say and do is pure sublime deception.
Every con game needs a willing participant known as the “mark,” I guess.
If you’re ever in my neck of woods, please feel free to stop by and find me in the new HQ and say, “Howdy, pardner!” You’ll find me beyond the second pile of shit to the right and straight on till morning.
How’d I do on this post? Have I regained my Abyss-like form? That last post I tried really hard to be reasonable and it took a lot out of me. I’m back, baby!
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