This video is not going to be too terribly rigorous. It’s really more of a rant.
I have a pet peeve. Perhaps I need perspective or to reconsider my priorities, but fuck it. I’m going to share my thoughts with you anyway.
You may have heard it said before that if people were just nice to each other, the world would a much better place. Some niceness is good, clearly. But sometimes it’s not so great.
I used to get this advice from a woman I knew years ago whenever I would tell her about conflicts I was having with people. I would bring up unjust situations where someone took advantage of my generosity, or harmed someone I cared about in some way. She would appeal to niceness again and again, and eventually I just stopped talking about anything that was bothering me with her.
At first, I argued with her, trying to get her to understand that there are more important considerations than “niceness”, like how messed up the other person’s behavior was and how they should be called out on it. She basically defended her code of ethics by saying “well they should be nice, too”.
I would say that I don’t feel like being nice, and any niceness I displayed would be false, and make me feel like a tool. She, in her very “nice” way, told me that I needed to get over it and live according to principle: her principle. Her one principle to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them! No matter what I said, it always came back to niceness.
I felt like I was being erased, bit by bit. First my anger, then my pride, then my dignity, until all that was left was someone who never challenges anyone on anything, ever. I didn’t let it get that far, and I stopped talking to her. I can’t be around someone who is so neurotic that she can’t handle people being angry with unjust behavior.
Somewhat ironically, when she would get angry, I listened, and if it was something that really was fucked up, I would validate her in her anger about it, and she would express appreciation that I would support her in that way.
It could be that me getting angry about being taken advantage of by people was not allowed, because she was, in a sense, taking advantage of my genuine empathy, and in exchange giving me her pretentious “niceness”.
It was obvious seeing how irrational this was from the the outside, but I also had the same virus in my own head. I thought that if I was nice enough about my delivery, I should be able to convince anyone of what I was saying. Obviously, if I’m calling them names and/or yelling at them, they are not likely to be receptive to my message. And certainly, many people would like me to believe that they might have been more receptive if my presentation didn’t offend them as much as it did; as if I missed out on the opportunity to convince them of an important issue, simply because I expressed irritation with something they said. If only I had been more nice!
In debates with people, I have tried many many times to kill them with kindness, and be as reasonable as I could muster, making all kinds of allowances, repeating what they said to reassure them that I understand what they are saying, always choosing words that gave them the most credit, etc, but if they ever ended up conceding anything, they just pretended like they hadn’t learned anything the next time I talked to them.
That is, almost every single time. There are exceptions to everything I’m saying. Bla bla bla. Standard caveats, okay, let’s connect with some healthy anger.
Niceness is Pretentious Bullshit
I’ve known a lot of people when introducing someone say “he’s a really nice guy”, and I guess that sounds good. I mean, if everything else was equal, then sure, being nice seems like a plus. But “nice” isn’t really that high in my own list of priorities when evaluating a person. Maybe I’m just weird, but I tend to value things like integrity, forbearance and passion a lot more than niceness. If all that a person has going for them is that they are nice, then, I don’t know, I’m just not all that interested in people like that.
And niceness, in it’s worst form, is some of the most passive aggressive and phony nonsense. Some of the most infuriating people I have ever met are the “nicest” people. That kind of niceness is a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sort of situation. I’m talking about the type of people who talk as if they are the most infinitely patient and wise, and with an ungodly degree of humility. They are so humble that words can’t even describe it. And I know this is true because they let me know in the appropriate subtle and cryptic ways in talking about themselves.
I’m guessing that you the viewer have witnessed at least one of these enlightened beings in your life.
I’ve met quite a few, myself. And as I am wont to do, I engage them in socratic dialog. And despite their infinite virtue, I have come to expect hostility. One way that you may know these people is by the “tolerance” bumper stickers people have with all the different religious symbols spelling out the words “tolerance”, “respect” or “coexist”. What that really means, apparently, is that everyone else must be infinitely tolerant of these things or I will be incredibly offended.
I actually love it when people question how I know something I say is true. If I actually know what I’m talking about, I can maybe convince a skeptical person who are the people I probably want to convince the most. Or, if I’m not sure, I can think some more on it, and revise or retract the statement and achieve greater clarity.
This is not how these type of “nice” people operate, though, unfortunately.
Niceness as Cowardice
So, why would something so irrational appeal to so many people? This probably doesn’t apply to most people, but a major reason, I’m convinced, is because a great many people are cowards.
I do not define cowardice the way that most people do, as being synonymous with fear or a lack of bravery. Not wanting to go to war for fear of dying does not make you a coward, even if the early feminists of England handing out white feathers of cowardice to young men to humiliate them, because they were not out in the battlefield getting themselves killed, think so. What brave women they were.
I define cowardice as a form of self denial where you portray the avoidance of your own fears as a virtue. In other words, I don’t confront my mother for saying things which humiliate and emasculate me because “good men treat their mothers with unconditional loyalty and reverence”, even if, at least in that moment, she is being a total bitch. Yes, even mothers can be bitches.
People don’t like to think of themselves as avoiding necessary conflicts out of fear. No one can respect themselves while doing that. So, what a lot of people do is they make up a story about how avoiding that necessary conflict is actually a virtue on their part. They get out of doing something that makes them anxious, and get to pat themselves on the back for doing it, too.
Personally, I feel contempt for cowardice.
From what I’ve seen, people in the manosphere are not at all afraid of disagreeing and butting heads on issues regarding the politics of sex. Feminists, on the other hand, with the exception of the awesome Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia, will go to, seemingly, any lengths to excuse the shitty behavior of women, unless those women have the temerity to not call themselves feminists.
Conflict means that people care. And I’m not saying that it’s totally easy and you are a coward if you avoid conflict. I’m not saying that at all. It’s a skill you have to develop like any other. What bothers me are the rationalizations that people come up with and bludgeon other people over the head with to excuse their own inaction.
It would be bad enough if they simply justified it in their own heads and left everyone else out of it, but what people who manage their own anxiety with lies tend to do is poison others with the same propaganda.
The most irritating example of this, in my opinion, is what’s called “Non-Violent Communication” or NVC. I’m not going to even try to define it in neutral terms. It’s an ideology that implicitly condemns moral judgment. Here’s what NVC is:
“People who judge other people are terrible. They are just the worst kind of person!”
Surely there are perfectly reasonable NVC advocates out there who do not fit this stereotype, but it’s common enough to warrant the generalization.
I’ve had lots of encounters with NVC advocates online where they lay into someone for being judgmental, expressing outrage or being condemnatory in some sense. I suggest that they look at their own behavior as they hypocritically judge the judger for judging.
Unfortunately, NVC is an ideology that cannot be falsified; which is to say an ideology.
If he accepts my criticism of his crazy-making hypocrisy, it is never a reflection on NVC. No, it’s actually further proof that NVC is necessary, because if he had only practiced NVC better he wouldn’t have reacted the way he did. What is the solution to bad conclusions reached using NVC? More NVC!
It’s clear to me now why this is so common. If you have a worldview which says that judgments of other people are bad, unproductive, useless, not to be expressed, then you will disown your own anger, rage, hostility, irritation. But denial will only get you so far, so that’s why our incredible human brains upgrade that denial to the level of projection. “It is not my hostility–it’s the person judging’s hostility, so fuck them!”
I actually like true niceness. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, be curious despite my own discomfort. I like kindness and gentleness and expressions of gratitude. All of that is very pleasant and appreciated.
What I hate is niceness as a virtue, because it always seems to be preached by the people who are only nice when it’s convenient to them, but they preach it so that you will be convenient to them. These types of people are big oozing puss-y sores of hostility covered in a thin scab, and they will shit all over you if you pick at it.
Let me know what you think. Have you experienced these perfumed assholes? Am I off my rocker?