Is it bad to be nice?

Evidently there is a bit of an uproar online right now about several columns written by various people of varying renown. The conflict is over whether snark or smarm is the greater crime. Weighing in on the side of being nice is Malcolm Gladwell for the New Yorker.

I’m going to have to go with Gladwell. Though I do appreciate good snark, and indulge in it far too often, it really adds nothing. It is little more than calling attention to your own self-assumed brilliance while simultaneously dismissing the person or thing being criticised. Both their unworthiness and your superiority are simultaneously advanced as self-evident.

It’s good for a laugh, a cheer, a “you-go-girl/boy”, or even a quick buck, but does it really contribute anything positive to society? Do the snarky really change the world in any desirable way? Do we really want a world populated by the Jon Stewarts, Stephen Colberts, Howard Sterns, and Rush Limbaughs  of the world?

Or perhaps, to put it another way, do you like the world we live in? Is the quality of public discourse suitable to your standards?

“No, I don’t”, and “Not to me.” Ever tried to explain things to a bully who turned everything you said into a joke? Ever tried sitting down and solving problems with someone like that? How are we going to solve any real problems if we’re each only looking for the quick verbal score, building ourselves up for our audience at the expense of the other person?

In such a world it won’t be long before people stop trying to talk to one another and start reaching for weapons. If you can’t negotiate you can always eliminate.

There’s a good reason why the meek shall inherit the earth. It’s just that it may be a scorched earth. Everyone else will have killed each other off.

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6 Responses to Is it bad to be nice?

  1. Jeff Collier says:

    Thom,
    I could not agree more. It is pretty hard to express those ideas to some of the people that I know on Facebook. I am often disheartened with the exaggerations, half truths, and mockery that is almost always employed by people on both sides of every issue out there. Thanks for your vote for civil dialogue!

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