In the film Interstellar, a robot named TARS travels with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway through a wormhole to save humanity. Voiced by Bill Irwin, TARS acts so much like a human that it’s easy to forget he is, in fact, a chunk of metal and wires.
Aside from not being made of flesh and blood, TARS has settings for all of his thought processes and various emotions he projects. In an early scene, McConaughey asks TARS what his honesty setting is, to which he replies “90 percent. Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic, nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.”
I have a bad habit of oversharing. I’ve occasionally run into problems stemmed from not thinking before I speak, but sophomore year of college has amplified that problem, and I’ve begun thinking long and hard about what I say to whom. The past month and a half or so I tried implementing a not-100-percent honesty parameter. I don’t know exactly what my honesty setting was, but I tried to not say certain things I knew would make matters worse, especially if I knew that thing to not be essential for someone to know.
Then, in the past two weeks, my honesty setting backfired. People still found out what I didn’t want them to know, and things between us got worse. It turns out that trying to explain to someone that you lied or didn’t tell the whole story because you cared about them and tried to lessen the collateral isn’t always going to make them understand.
And here’s the thing: maybe I was wrong. I still don’t agree with a 100 percent honesty policy. I do think that there are certain things people shouldn’t know, even if it involves them. In trying (and failing) to avoid drama in my personal and social lives, I should refrain from oversharing or telling someone something that will hurt them, right? I don’t know.
At the end of Interstellar, McConaughey ups TARS’ honesty setting to 95 percent. Maybe that’s what I should do: be dis-honest only 5 percent of the time. I guess in the end it just comes down to: I’m not a robot and neither are the people I interact with or care very deeply about. We’re all emotional beings, and none of us know the answers. We’re just winging it until it all goes wrong.