Friday, 15 April 2011

It Costs Nothing To Be Nice

Today's blog is going to be a bit of a mixed bag.

First up last night was brilliant. I went on a night out with some of my mates which was a great laugh. We played Worms on my mates PS3 and then a few rounds of Uno; it may not have been the most rock'n'roll start to a night out but it worked for me. The night was further improved by seeing Michael Socha in the club; he's an actor that has been in "This is England", "This is England 86" and "Being Human" and therefore is pretty cool in my humble opinion, in fact cool enough that i can let him off for being a Derby County fan.

Though those factors were what made it a great night, the reason i want to write about it in my blog is because of a conversation i had last night, one which i've had several times before with different people. It centres around the, for me at least very depressing, concept that being 'nice' is almost distrusted. There are few questions that annoy me more than "Why are you being so nice?" I hate that being nice to other people for the sake of simply being nice and wanting them to be happy is such an alien concept to people. The conversation last night actually at one point involved me being told that "because of how nice i was being it made her suspicious" like i must have some sort of ulterior motive.

I laughed it off at the time as i have before, with the most simple of responses to that original question, "Why the hell not?"

It's come up in a few different contexts before but it's most commonly been asked me by girls, girls who clearly believe that there is only one reason why a guy would be nice to them, that there has to be some sort of reward on the horizon to justify an act of kindness.

This can't just have happened without provocation; there must be a reason why this belief has been able to take hold, or perhaps it always has been there and i've just been too naive/optimistic/blind to notice it. Whether it has always been there or not, it's still depressing.

I've got a whole heap of flaws, some big, some more insignificant and anyone who knows me will know that i'm often my own biggest critic.

However i definitely seem to value just being nice to someone, going out of my way to help someone or just not lazily inconveniencing them more highly than a lot of people.

I reckon i must come across as almost 'old fashioned' at times but i can live with that. I believe in holding doors, walking people home so they have company and get home safe, letting someone who got to the bar ahead of me go first even if the barman wants to serve me first, smiling at and thanking people simply for doing their job and giving up my seat on buses/trains to those who need it more. I don't do it for purely altruistic reasons, it makes me feel good to help someone, so i'm benefiting from it and often i am nice because i want that person to like me, but it seems that such humble motives aren't enough and there must be some more sinister reason for being nice to someone.

I read a book a year or two ago called "Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make The World A Nicer Place" which was compiled by Danny Wallace, the author of "Join Me" and "Yes Man". It's a brilliantly heart warming short book full of little hints and tips of random kind acts you can do, and i have tried a few of them myself, but what struck me while reading it was how many of those acts, a definite majority, would be met with huge suspicion, especially if carried out by a teenage boy. It's a depressing thought that a simple random act of kindness to a stranger, or in the broader sense simply being nice to someone who isn't a good friend or relative, is such a bizarre and rare concept that people can't understand it.

My point of this whole blog is simply that it makes me sad that people feel the need to question a person's motives for being 'nice'.

I hope this hasn't come across as sanctimonious or self-praising, i'm sure most people reading this will have noticed or experienced this at some point, it's just it's bugged me for a while and last night reminded me of it.

To finish as always is a song, this one i must have listened to 4 or 5 times in the past few days, for whatever reason i'm really loving it right now. It's by 'The Boxer Rebellion' and it's called 'Memo'. Enjoy.

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