Great news everyone! Apparently use of the word "idiot" in blog posts is down by nearly 50% in the last 6 months.
The New York Times opinion piece where I read this fun fact is saying that it is now "in" to be nice. Actors like Paul Rudd, advertisements like the latest Volkswagen campaign, and websites like Operation Nice dot com are evidence of our new found era of niceness, according to the piece.
There is a critique, however, offered by Professor Eric G. Wilson of Wake Forest University. Niceness, he thinks, results in mediocrity. The attempt to be agreeable and polite leads us down "predictable and vaguely reassuring" paths like "easy listening radio or greeting card sunrises or Tom Hanks." (When asked for comment, Hanks reportedly said, "What an idiot.")
On the other hand, I happen to think that we can be nice without drifting into mediocre fluffiness. I do not see the two as mutually exclusive, I guess. Being nice to one another doesn't preclude disagreement, dialogue, and even argument.
So I for one applaud the social trend toward niceness. Especially as so much of what is happening in the world seems to trend toward fear, tension, and suspicion, simply being nice to one another can lighten the atmosphere considerably. A smile, a heartfelt handshake, a hug, holding the door open for someone, allowing another person into the line ahead of you - simple gestures of kindness can convey a lot.
I love watching what happens to a foul ball hit into the stands. People get pretty excited about it, and it's fun to see their celebrations. But what I love most is that inevitably, if a grown up catches the ball and a kid is nearby, the grown up gives the ball to the kid. Nice! In fact, if the grown-up doesn't do so, there are almost always a few "boos" from the crowd. Being nice to the kid is the norm, and keeping the ball for yourself is socially unacceptable.
It's easier to be nice than mean, anyway. Being mean sucks too much energy. Being nice somehow seems to generate energy of its own. Being nice to one another makes everyone feel a little bit better, including you.
So be nice - everyone's doing it.
Have a nice day.