What did you do this weekend? (And what will you say you did?)
Monday 07 March 2011
What did you do this weekend? Those short of a decent answer should heed the advice of the French philosopher Anatole France: "Without lies, humanity would perish of despair and boredom."
More than a quarter of adults feel forced to lie when asked about their weekend activities, according to new research. So desperate is our need to maintain public appearances that fabricated responses can include anything from a spontaneous weekend break to a night on the town.
In fact 26 per cent of respondents said they wished they could be more spontaneous at weekends, with 18 per cent saying they had never taken a short break.
The syndrome has been named "Weekendvy" after a poll of 5,000 adults found that pressure to maintain the illusion of an active social life led to more than 27 per cent of adults being "economical with the truth". Wales was the hardest hit by the phenomenon (draw your own conclusions), with London, Scotland and the West Midlands close behind.
So if we're not living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, what are we doing? Twenty-nine per cent of respondents spent their weekend catching up on sleep, while 44 per cent yearned for a more exciting weekend, the poll by Travelodge shows. "Weekendvy" was rife among more than 20 per cent of adults who felt their friends and work colleagues were having more fun.
Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent, refers to this as "identity construction". He said: "The older we get, the harder we find it publicly to acknowledge loneliness and isolation. This phenomenon comes from the need to show others we are still moving in line with our aspirations and dreams. Those are the narratives we have set ourselves."
Should it matter? Ultimately not, Mr Furedi said. "In the end we are all reconciled to the banality of everyday existence." In addition, the survey shows that once-sacred Sunday rituals such as the lie-in are also on the wane. Less than 25 per cent of adults have a regular lie-in on a Sunday morning, but only 12 per cent of adults attend church.
For the worst-case scenario, the last word should go to Dorothy Rowe, a psychologist and the author of Why We Lie. "Whenever a significant proportion of the ideas that make up our sense of being a person are disconfirmed, we feel ourselves shattering, crumbling, disappearing," she said.
"Even if we know that it is our ideas that are disappearing, not ourselves, getting through the period of uncertainty is difficult.
"If we do not understand that it is merely our ideas, we find the falling apart utterly terrifying. We do whatever we can to prevent this from happening again. The most popular method is to lie."
'Weekendvy': leading lies
The top five most popular activities Britons will pretend they did over the weekend, when they didn't:
* Painted the town red on Saturday night with their partner or friend
* Visited friends
* Went to a dinner party
* Went out for a romantic meal
* Took a short break – when really they just described a previous experience where they took a UK short break and made it sound like they went at the weekend
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