Being nice isn’t the same as being polite.
On the one hand, you’re brought up with these relentless phrases drilled in on a daily basis to mold you into a person capable of playing well with others.
But unsheathe these old wives tales and you’ll end up feeling cheated by a system that tells you one thing — being a polite person is easy.
It’s absolutely not and I demand a refund.
Being polite might get you labelled as a ‘nice person’, but that’s a fly in my ointment already.
Firstly — Define ‘Nice’
Luckily, I’m going to do it for you. Because I’m so flipping NICE, that’s why.
Ask anyone to describe a nice person and they’ll vomit up some soundbite about how nice people never raise their voices and are peaceful, polite and helpful.
Secondly — Define ‘Not Nice’
Your luck is totally in today — I’m handling this for you too. Ask those same random street fools to describe someone not very nice and await a torrent of excretion about how selfish, big-headed, confident and ignorant those folks are.
Here’s an Outrageous Example (Involving Sandwiches)
Do I want to share my sandwich with a friend who has no money and can’t buy their own sandwich? Yes. They need my help and I need friends.
Do I want to share my sandwich with a friend who just ate their own sandwich and has more sandwich money than me? Not really.
Do I want to share my sandwich with a hot, interesting guy? Yes. Always. Because mating. Look how generous I am with my sandwiches please fertilize me.
But do I ever really want to share my sandwich because I’m being nice?
Biologically — unlikely. (I don’t have children to furnish sandwiches upon yet.)
Religiously — unlikely.
Most of what we do is directed by survival. So is being a “nice person” for our own benefit really being nice?
Probably not. Being polite, on the other hand, is the last form of niceness I can trust. Politeness is caring about other peoples’ feelings and situations because you don’t really want anyone to have a shitty day, and certainly not because of you.
Here’s My Convoluted Point
Politeness costs nothing, my mother used to say.
And I believed her.
Until it got me bullied, rejected from jobs, universities, institutions and training colleges. Until it brought me to Japan only to meet people who walk into you, don’t hold doors for anyone and refuse to thank strangers for jack-shite. Yes, even in collectivist Japan — you don’t have to be polite to anyone unless you’re being paid for it.
No, being polite costs a hell of a lot.
Of our time, of our money and of our sanity.
Being ‘nice’ will get you laid and make all your dreams come true. (disclaimer: maybe.)
Being polite is the conscious effort to make life easier for everyone else.
So the next time someone treats you like you’re not a burden to their very existence, fucking appreciate it. There aren’t many of them left.