“Crying wolf” is a term derived from the ancient Aesop Fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” In the story, a young lad literally cries “wolf!” in order to amusingly get gaggles of people to run to his aid, only to find out there is no danger at all. He does it so many times that unfortunately when there’s a real wolf threat, no one believes him nor comes to help. Consequently, he’s consumed by the big bad animal.
In modern times, the term has come to mean perpetuating a false alarm. An example today might be the young lady who for attention lies to her friends that an ex-boyfriend is harassing her when he isn’t and eventually when she is in real danger, no one believes her. But perpetuating false alarms doesn’t always involve lying. Sometimes it is more an issue of one’s paranoia, bad judgment or being too quick to jump the gun. In any case, “crying wolf” is never a wise thing to do and will nearly always have negative and sometimes even dangerous ramifications such as the following:
1) You’ll be perceived as a liar – And that ain’t good. Once you are labeled a liar, you’re more often not believed, even when you’re telling the truth. This means when you legitimately have a problem and need help, you run the risk of not being able to rally support because at some point, even your once closest comrades might say “eh, she’s probably lying.”
2) You’ll be perceived as an attention-monger – and that can irritate people, pushing them away. Too many false alarms do begin to paint that picture of you. When other people begin saying “he’s just looking for attention,” you ought to beware. Once folks are on to that game, you likely begin to lose meaningful liaisons. By and large, most people won’t normally pander to that behavior and you’re in danger of losing friends that don’t want to deal with the bull.
3) You’ll lose credibility – a trait that is difficult for people to happily live without. Credibility is like integrity. It’s that good history that you have of being on the up and up, not having ulterior motives and sticking to your word. It secures friendships, strengthens business relationships and cements love connections. It is important to one’s reputation. But a string of false alarms in whatever capacity weakens people’s positive perception of you. And perception is reality. You will be devoid of credibility and that will only make it difficult for others to fully accept you.
Crying wolf has been around since the beginning of time and in some way it now represents a mal-form of human nature not all that uncommon. True, today being consumed by a wolf is no longer the offender’s primary concern but take heed. Modern repercussions are no less dangerous. Frankly, he or she who finds amusement in getting gaggles of people to run to their aid under false pretenses runs the risk of a much scarier demise: being alone.