Nobody is “nice” anymore.
Everywhere you go there are big, fat middle fingers in your face.
Maybe I’m just getting old or perhaps idioms my mother beat into my head are set in stone.
>> If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
>> Better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
>> Don’t be uncouth; it makes you sound uneducated.
>> Act like a lady.
These days, if you’re not jumping into the fray of anger and outrage on social media, dropping f-bombs, or using all CAPS, or exclamation points, you’re considered uninformed or ignorant. Or worse, prudish and superior. You lose followers. You become, dare I say it? Obsolete.
On the Fence
I’m a cusp baby. Born on the line between Boomers and Gen-X, so technically, I carry the proprietary burden of two generations in my head. Influenced by the Hippies and the Kennedys alike in my childhood, to disco and punk rock in high school. I mentally go back and forth between the conservatism of my parents and the free-thinking attitude of 80s California, where I went to college.
Don’t get me wrong. I use the word “f*ck” a lot. I think mostly in rebellion of my mother, who swore like a sailor (except for the word “f*ck”—she drew a line there) and would then be all indignant if I said “sh*t” or “hell” in front of her by accident.
“Where do you get this language?!” she’d say as she stomped toward me.
Now that swearing is chic, I sometimes recoil at its copious use. It used to be a tool for emphasis and anger. Now it’s so normal that it’s hardly ever beeped out of prime time television anymore. We giggle when a small child utters a curse because it sounds cute coming from their small mouths. We justify cussing with “studies” that say we will live longer or that it means we’re more intelligent.
In Defense of Decorum
It seems everything these days must be instantly consumable, succinct, factual, and rage-filled to even get anyone to look at it. We crave to be heard, to be seen.
We hide behind our computer screens and smart phones because we can be rude without consequence or swear without threat of a backhand connecting with our mouths. We know how to act in person but, for whatever reason, we don’t.
It’s hard to talk to someone face-to-face. The full benefit of facial and body expressions, not just words, become part of the conversation. Real feelings come out. Real resolutions can be had.
There’s always a refined way to say what needs to be said. And, in my opinion, manners are never out of style. Some of the most important yet devastating conversations I’ve had involved well-chosen non-curse words spoken quietly with full eye contact. Slayed to speechlessness. Not a bruise in sight.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury… and remedying it.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
Some are trying to post stories of kindness and good-doing. It’s there, we know it. Doors are held open, donations are made, kittens are saved, anonymous gifts are given. I think we need to do more.
Being polite doesn’t mean we aren’t interested or that we don’t care, but full-blown temper tantrums are really getting wearisome. Sometimes, the loudest sound is silence.
No doubt, we have a lot to be angry about. The world is messed up no matter which perspective it’s viewed from, but we messed it up. Collectively.
If you just need to be angry at someone, I recommend finding a therapist. Or channeling that energy into changing what you think needs to change. But start with being “nice.” Because nice matters.
I propose that we swing the pendulum back to the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.