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As Fresh as an Airline Food Joke

The truth about lies.

For years, for the sake of some hack standup comic’s guaranteed cheap chuckle, the hallowed untruths have recirculated: Yoko broke up the Beatles. (She didn’t.) Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. (He didn’t.) Some third thing. (It wasn’t.)

And our acceptance of these lies begat an easy swallowing of bigger lies, amid a deepening skepticism about the very notion of truth. After smiling faintly at the eleventh joke about Yoko, many among us came to believe it was based on a truth. The more who believed, the more who thought surely it must be true.

Knowing that previous human beings believed all kinds of old bullshit doesn’t keep us from swallowing new bullshit and asking for seconds. The earth is flat. Jews drink the blood of Christian children. Our crops failed because that woman who rebuffed our advances copulated with Satan. We would have won the war if only our leaders hadn’t sold us out and stabbed us in the back.

It’s a Satanic torment: feed me and I grow hungrier. Lies, lies, and more lies, and our hunger for lies grows more ravenous the more lies you feed us.

Why do you feed us lies? To keep yourself in power.

What do the lies make us think? They make us think you’re one of us.

And the more lies we swallow, the more you hold us in contempt. You do not love us. You do not respect us. You are not our friend.

By Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek.

Designer at Automattic, Inc. Co-Founder, An Event Apart. Publisher, A List Apart & A Book Apart. Author. Father. He/him.