Interesting Ideas

The evil nice

It's dangerous to say it, but nice people are a nuisance, constantly imposing their values and preferences on others. And they usually get their way.

Because they are extremely aware of their own feelings, though, nice people come off as highly sensitive. That makes it seem obligatory to treat them with tender regard. Who wants to do or say anything hurtful to someone so pleasant? It doesn't matter how impervious they actually are to the feelings of others (especially others deemed not-so-nice) or how imperious they are in asserting their own point of view. Deference is due the nice lest their feelings be hurt.

Worse, most people are too intimidated to say "no" because the nice, when they don't get their way, get their pound of flesh. If you resist you are branded as mean, and you probably carry an inward load of guilt as well for stepping on such delicate toes.

Nice people know this, consciously or otherwise, and they use it. It's not a case of passive-aggressiveness, it's pure aggressive. Consider how the nice insist that everyone conform to their view of what people should be doing or how they should be acting and feeling. They have no compunction about openly criticizing others in ways that would normally be considered totally rude. They insist that everyone follow their preferred rituals and activities, however onerous. People can't help but favor those who present themselves so forcefully as sweet and sensitive.

If you openly object to any of this, holding the nice to ordinary standards of behavior, you are made out to be cantankerous, and probably a bully. Stand in the way of the nice and you will likely be ostracized, revealed as the arrogant fool you are. People would rather accede to the nice person's self-centered and platitudinous view of the world than deal with the moral complexity of criticism.

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