At the very least, he appears to have stretched the truth a bit. He allegedly fabricated a story — or half a story — to get himself and his U.S. teammates out of a bad situation and cover up a stupid mistake.
Most of us are liars, too. Most of us do it every day. We either tell outright lies or exaggerate a situation or stretch the truth. It’s become the American way.
Like Lochte, we lie to cover up mistakes or to make up for something we said or did that offended someone or didn’t go over so well. We distort the truth by supporting or sharing someone else’s lie. And then we lie about the lie.
We spend most of our time these days on social media, the world’s largest platform for lying. It is the great enabler for liars, name-callers and instigators who like to spread hate. We share their lies with little regard for the truth and pretend it’s OK because everyone else is doing it. Most of what we share is only about half true, we just spin it however we want to support whatever we believe or whatever our value system tells us we should believe. And if someone doesn’t like it or calls us on it, we attack them with more name-calling and venom. Or we just delete the tweet or claim we were hacked.
Sounds kind of like what Lochte allegedly did. He spun his story and distorted the truth.
We are a nation full of liars and a society where lying is not even a big deal anymore. To many, the truth is not a requirement or even important. All that matters is our interpretation of the truth.
In some cases, lying is an asset or an art form. We applaud our politicians for lying. We slap them on the back, shake their hands, slip them some cash and send them off to Washington to lie some more.
For many, lying is a way of life. For the rest, it’s an acceptable part of society.
It’s no big deal until some celebrity or famous athlete lies, and then we take them to task for it. We shame them and crucify them, making them an example of how awful lying is. Then, after a few days, we forget all about it and let them go back to being rich and famous.
America is so full of liars that we’re even willing to allow two of the biggest liars in the country to run for President.
Hillary Clinton has a long track record of lying. She’s made a career out of it. She even lies about her lies. She’s a master fabricator who excels at spinning stories to cover up her scandals and questionable judgment. It’s how she became one of the nation’s most powerful politicians. And she might just lie her way all the way to the White House. If she does, she will become the second most celebrated liar in presidential history — second only to her husband.
Donald Trump is no better. He also has told lie after lie while running for President, changing his opinion and spinning his hateful rhetoric depending on how the political winds shift. He excels at half-truths, gross exaggeration and media manipulation. That’s been his political strategy — say or tweet something outrageous, stupid and offensive, and then when he gets caught, lie about it or accuse his critics of being “so dishonest.” If he’s elected, he will have done it by pulling the wool over the eyes of most of the electorate.
And we, as a nation, are either naïve enough to believe what they say or we stick our heads in the sand and allow the spread of their lies to support our own political agenda. We chalk it up to politics and pretend it’s OK.
We even allow our athletes and heroes to lie. We let them lie and spin and exaggerate to cover up mistakes or character flaws or even criminal activity, and then we let them off the hook as soon as they become great again and lead our teams back to victory. We are forgiving that way.
Look, lying is wrong. Everyone knows that. Most of us were taught that from a young age.
But that doesn’t stop us. We lie anyway.
So why are we taking Ryan Lochte to task for spinning the truth?
He’s just one of us. Just another in a long line of American liars. He learned from the best.
Maybe his tall tale created an international incident and tainted the Rio Olympics, but hey, if you’re going to lie, why not make it a whopper to get yourself out of a messy situation and keep from embarrassing your country. Rio was a mess to begin with. What’s one more lie added to the mix?
Lochte is one of the greatest swimmers in Olympic history. His 12 Olympic swimming medals (six gold) rank behind only otherworld teammate Michael Phelps. They won’t take those medals away just because he lied, just like they didn’t take away Phelps’ medals for drinking and smoking pot or Justin Gatlin’s for doping.
So before we become hypocritical and paint him as a villain and claim that his lies tainted this year’s Olympics and embarrassed the United States, maybe we should look in the mirror and contemplate all the lies we share in everyday and that we are willing to accept and ask ourselves if that is OK.
The truth is, Lochte is no worse than the rest of us. He might be an Olympian, one who made a stupid mistake, but by lying he's really just following the American way.