Have we forgotten how to be nice?

We do not live in a world that celebrates niceness.

When we’re praising our friends and lovers to others, we might use accolades like “good looking” or “funny”, but kindness rarely gets a mention. Niceness is seen as a weakness; it isn’t fashionable, and therefore, it is undervalued.

In today’s world, people seem to have forgotten how to be nice. There’s lesser people smiling out in public, or saying hello and asking about someone’s day (and actually caring), or even simply holding the door open for someone.

There used to be a time when it was common for people to observe manners. Say “please” and “thank you.” Say “excuse me.” While these still apply today, there are some that seem to have been forgotten or that need some adjusting for today’s world.

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Quoting Thumper from the popular children’s tale of Bambi, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” This type of respect is often forgotten today, especially with the increase of electronic communication. It’s easier to “say” something mean to people, even to complete strangers, if you’re typing through a device or on the computer or sending vile text messages. Typed words can convey different meanings depending on who is reading it. Physical and verbal cues are lost in the written word. Maybe the original intent of a Facebook post, news article or text message was meant in sarcasm or as a joke, but the receiver of the message thought it was mean or judgmental. This then spawns a war of words all over a simple misunderstanding.

Social media has changed people. People think less and type more. Insulting complete strangers, calling names and making invalidated accusations are common in these social arenas. This then travels on to the real world, and is also the reason that today we find more incidents of racism, sexism, ageism and overall rage. People have no filters.

There was a similar topic started over on Natter a while ago. In this thread, there were many community members that agreed that the world was becoming a less nicer place, but as some others pointed out, there could also be good people in the world. Janis said, “There are so many angry people around and not enough common courtesy” while Ronin points out, “The lack of general good manners, courtesy and respect for others is accelerating. The cult of individualism (It’s all about me!) is a primary cause, I believe.” Eleanor, however, has a good suggestion to fix the problem. She says, “It is so good when people say and do nice things. Just as easy as being unkind and usually makes us feel better ourselves.”

It is important that manners be remembered even as social interactions change. Within an instant, Facebook posts or tweets can be read and social media wars can be started. Words and interactions with others are powerful for good or bad. It’s important to be careful with each other’s feelings – friend or foe, stranger or acquaintance.

What does the word “nice” mean to you? Do you think society is less nicer now than it used to be?