Embellishing Stories


This may seem like a strange thing to be writing about but for once something of cultural interest came up on a Channel 4 comedy show. Thursday night I was watching 8 out of 10 cats with the slick haired wonder himself Jimmy Carr, the format of the show is very straightforward. Two teams of funny people get asked stupid questions, which the audience have already recorded their answers of, they make jokes about it for a while until finally cutting to their legitimate answer in the hope they get some points / laughs. Nothing harmful in this, and usually nothing inspiring in this either, other than picking up a few new jokes or stories.

However, one of the questions was “40% of the audience admit to embellish on stories to make their lives sound more interesting”.

To me this sparks up three lines of discussion, what is the difference between embellishing and bullshitting? Is embellishing a story a bad thing to do? Are people ashamed to admit to embellishing stories?

The first one is relatively straightforward and probably covered simply by definition alone. If you add facts to a story then you are bullshitting, whereas if you add more detail or exaggerate facts in a story you are embellishing. Example time:

Normal version: “I went in a car to the seaside.”
Embellished version: “I went in a super quick car to the seaside”
Bullshit version: “I went in a car to the seaside, on the way we got pulled over for speeding but got away with it due to me flirting with the policewoman.”

See the difference? Moving onto whether this is a bad thing or not. Personally, coming from a Marketing background I have to say I see no problem in embellishing a story within clear boundaries. I like people who are listening to what I’m saying to get the best experience from this and share in my usual excitement over it.

To complete the story, the answer was false, only 16% of the audience admitted to it, the only learning here is that many people do not admit to doing so and must therefore be ashamed. I believe that everyone does this, maybe not all the time, but extremely frequently. So, thoughts? Do you embellish stories? Would you be ashamed to admit to embellishing stories?

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