Here’s an interesting study, conducted in 2009, that I just discovered from a recent article in The New York Times. The study is on “butler lies” and their frequency in online communication. A “butler lie,” according to these authors, is a lie used to manage (to initiate or terminate) social interaction and would include, for example, saying that you didn’t get the person’s message until today (you had trouble with your computer or phone), that you need to cut the conversation short because you’re studying with a friend, or that you’re tired and need to get to sleep. In an examination of 50 IM users who indicated whether each of their messages were lies, the researchers found that approximately 10 percent of all IM messages were lies and that about 20 percent of these were butler lies. This is a study that should spark lots of classroom discussion; each student is likely to have his or her own arsenal of commonly used butler lies.