Why we don't really want to be nice
December 3, 2016 1:02 PM   Subscribe



 
Kindness and sensitivity have been viewed as weakness by every protofascist and fascist society in history. Ours is no exception. This is one thing both sides actually are guilty of, if not equally.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2016 [24 favorites]


Plz add sociopath to the tags list... there are differing reasons to be 'nice', not all nice is... well... nice.
posted by sammyo at 1:26 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well bless the video maker's heart.
posted by glonous keming at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


And now we know it really is possible to be successful and nice... if you're an attractive media celebrity with a handler and perfectly staged photo ops.

My experience is that people don't want other people to be nice. Or even kind. Or fair. People want other people to be on their side.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 1:57 PM on December 3, 2016 [26 favorites]


as a friend once pointed out in the midst of an acid high, "Nice is just a cookie made by Peak Freans. I need more than that." And then he added a bit later, "But I do want cookies."
posted by philip-random at 2:10 PM on December 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Here is the text version, for people who can't be bothered to watch a six minute video.
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 2:18 PM on December 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Framing "nice" in terms of Jim Carrey strikes me as totally missing the point.
posted by emmet at 2:28 PM on December 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kindness and sensitivity have been viewed as weakness by every protofascist and fascist society in history. Ours is no exception. This is one thing both sides actually are guilty of, if not equally.
Two weeks ago (and probably ongoing), there was a military encirclement of Thailand's Grand Palace. The encirclement included many ambulance stations, recycling stations, free water stations, and free vegetarian snack stations. The military and police presence was extremely nice, even to tourists who failed to dress appropriately for the official mourning period. It is possible to be all but a military dictatorship and nice at the same time.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:38 PM on December 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


Years ago when I was trying to resolve a never-ending dispute between two groups of people over something not particularly interesting, one of them called me "Mister Nice-Guy Asshole" but I was nice and presumed they meant it as a compliment.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Kindness is never boring. Sociopaths can dictatorships can be nice, but they are not kind.
posted by straight at 3:01 PM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Here is the text version, for people who can't be bothered to watch a six minute video.

Can someone explain this "The School of Life" thing to me, because my "eh, what kind of sect is this" sensors are a bit triggered by the combination of a seemingly well-funded organization with a somewhat hand-wavy mission and the fact that I keep ending up on a page that says they're about to open a branch in the city I'm in, and "do I want to become part of the family?", when I'm clicking around on their site trying to figure out who "we" are.
posted by effbot at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


The School of Life is that "philosopher" Alain de Botton. He has great "wisdom" to "share" with you.
posted by njohnson23 at 4:08 PM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


My late former husband told me that I was "too nice" and that I "should have been more of a bitch" and that's why he cheated on me. He told our therapist that he hated that "everyone liked me" because it made him feel unimportant. I've become a bit bitchier in the years since.
posted by annieb at 4:11 PM on December 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


"....and even sexless about the concept"

Gonna take a note from this asshat, choose to be un-nice and say I deemed his article worth roughly 1 catbox worth of shit by the time I ended the first sentence.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


"eh, what kind of sect is this"

Exactly...
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:30 PM on December 3, 2016


This essay appears to make the basic category mistake of confusing niceness with goodness. Niceness is not goodness. Many people are nice without being good. To say that Christianity is "profoundly committed to promoting niceness to the world" is a profound misunderstanding of Christianity.
posted by verstegan at 4:45 PM on December 3, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think this guy just cut me off in traffic a few minutes ago. Good luck to him.

Me, I find anger toxic to my personal sense of serenity, so I think I will go about being a decent human being not only because I don't want to make other people miserable (what am I here for, etc) but also because I don't want to make me miserable. When I'm in conflict with everyone around me, I'm at my least happy inside, & that's no damn way to live.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2016 [18 favorites]


"Nice," now, in the North American English version of the word means

1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory
2. fine or subtle

Traditionally it meant

: wanton, dissolute b : coy, reticent

: showing fastidious or finicky tastes : particular (too nice a palate to enjoy junk food) b : exacting in requirements or standards : punctilious (a nice code of honor)

: possessing, marked by, or demanding great or excessive precision and delicacy (nice measurements)

re: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990)
posted by porpoise at 5:48 PM on December 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh god, how did I know it would be the school of life.

Next they sell workshops and (one can only assume) measure your thetan levels at the right level.
posted by Yowser at 5:53 PM on December 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I felt a deep-seated urge to be not very nice at all once I read that account of Christianity. That section is just...I mean, I'm trying to come up with some sophisticated rebuttal, and all I can do is throw up my hands and say, "but that's nonsense. That's so wrong that it transcends all known definitions of wrongness to arrive at a new sort of error."
posted by thomas j wise at 6:03 PM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


That's so wrong that it transcends all known definitions of wrongness to arrive at a new sort of error.

I believe the phrase you're looking for is "not even wrong."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:03 PM on December 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


I made it about three minutes in, rewound to where the horribly smug voice-over mentioned "...embarrassingly anodyne, meek, tedious, even sexless", and it suddenly all came into focus: that's the School of Life in a nutshell. The books in this series are like some modern form of pestilence set forth on the already-small philosophy sections of the world's remaining bookshops.
posted by pjm at 11:29 PM on December 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


In addition to the issues with the description of Christianity, the dichotomy presented re: Romanticism seems to have nothing at all to do with niceness, unless you accept his premise which is that niceness is bland-ness, passivity etc. These seem like very circular arguments.
posted by jojobobo at 12:45 AM on December 4, 2016


Well, that was a waste of time.
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 10:10 AM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


but nice
posted by sammyo at 6:11 PM on December 4, 2016


As others have said, there have long been distinctions between kindness and niceness. As the author brings up Christianity, there have also historically been some pretty distinct nuances for these definitions in regard to virtues that put kindness solidly in a category of embracing types of difficult virtue to properly exemplify kindness, versus niceness that can gloss over deeper issues for inherently selfish reason. I want to always be kind, but I don't want to always be nice.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:29 PM on December 5, 2016


So, did absolutely anyone watch til the end, where he discusses how utterly essential "niceness" is to our everyday lives? Anyone? Or did everyone read the misleading teaser, watch the first 2 minutes, get their daily hit of micro-outrage and move on?
posted by macross city flaneur at 4:47 AM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


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