For the sake of this article and pre-emptively refuting any remarks about me proposing ‘meanness,’ let’s define politeness. I will also, for this essay and others in the future, synonymously use “niceism” with politeness. It’s an ism. It’s something done systematically, with little or no conscious thought or regard. Habit. Politeness, or niceism, is acting in a socially acceptable manner in day-to-day interactions that are deemed to be ‘kind.’ Non-confrontational. Something that keeps the wheels in motion. Be nice. Smile. Move on. Don’t say how you really feel. You get it. If not, it should become more evident as this essay proceeds.
Think of your last interaction with someone in retail or perhaps your last grocery shopping venture. Did your cashier smile? Did they say “thank you” for some unseen reason? Did they act like fucking robots, devoid of any emotion and authentic being? This is what politeness is. It’s being ‘nice’ to everyone for no practical reason. And generally, the reasons are reinforced by social values. Things like labor (customer is always right, yuh know) and conformity (don’t challenge the status quo. Be ‘normal,’ dude. Fake it till yuh make it, YAH!) Think of the smiles flashed at you by passerby on the sidewalks. Sure, you may be cute. But it’s likely just out of habit with little attention to your physical appearance. Think of how many times people ask how you are, or vice-versa, with no real interest in how the other’s life is playing out. Put on your social face. It’s time to play robot.
Now, think of whatever last social escapade you went on and encountered such rampant niceism. Do you really think that the individual helping you was actually thankful for you shopping at the store that they have work at to make ends meet? I mean, do you think they went home and said, “Fuck, so glad they came by and I could assist them and help generate more revenue and customer satisfaction for *insert shit brand here*. I got to make a stranger think I was actually satisfied with my employment. Hats off to me!” Next time, maybe say “you’re welcome.” Bet that might be a shocker. Acting in a supposedly socially normative way of responding to a statement of *fake* gratitude may shake the boundaries of normality for that unfortunate, having-to-be inauthentic individual. Hell, why not prank normality? More fun than systematically spouting phrases with no conscious thought or meaning.
Now, of course some people won’t mind this. Jobists and careerists will certainly be disgusted by the rejection of their superficial lifestyles. How dare anyone challenge the inauthentic normality of typical day-to-day living! I suppose it’s better to spend the majority of our lives as suck-ups and conformists; maintaining the status quo of fake interactions and loyalty to brands and institutions that don’t give a fuck about the individual, save being a parasite to them. The thing is, these critiques or analyses of people’s realities will always end in some backlash. But, unlike them and their incessant desire to suck their bosses boots and act ‘normal,’ I don’t give a fuck. This article isn’t for those who are obsessed with niceism and social conformity. These people merely want to sugarcoat everything and make it all neat and clean so their lifestyle is not put in jeopardy. Civility absolutely hates confrontation!
Back to those fake smiles! Most of us do it. When I do catch myself doing it, I almost want to track the person who I interacted with in a fakely way and say, “Sorry. This isn’t me. I am not grateful for our rather meaningless interaction. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. If you knew me, you’d probably wish I were imprisoned forever. And in recognizing your adherence to social norms and my giving in to them, I felt compelled to tell you that our interaction, on my part surely as yours, was entirely fake and reinforced only by complying with what civility declares ‘nice’ and ‘acceptable.’ I don’t really care if you have a nice day at the moment because you probably couldn’t give two shits about how the rest of my day is going to be miserable.” That might get me in trouble. Empathy is largely expected from people. To not have empathy makes you a downright sociopath. Lock ’em up and throw the keys away. Can’t have anti-socials and anti-compliants. Society forbid they don’t give a shit about people they don’t know.
Next time you go out shopping or have to deal in any professional environment, give it a shot. Analyze, really analyze, your interactions. There’s a fair chance that you’ll catch yourself just half-assedly responding with meaningless remarks, only as a way to ensure that the interaction goes smoothly with no conflict or confusion. Niceism greases the wheels of inauthenticity. Now, if you go into it beforehand with intentions of being 100% “real,” as they say, watch their reactions. Experience and anti-social insight tells me you might induce feelings of uncomfortability, confusion, and perhaps anger. Why, how dare someone not talk in the generalized way that we are expected to talk! And if you are one of the individuals whose livelihood depends on such un-real interactions, imagine what would happen if you actually talked how you want. What would happen if you said how you actually felt; if you didn’t have to give in to the customer’s whims and narcissism for their own self-satisfaction? Probably looking at being un-employed. It’s no secret that most areas of employment require adherence to some code of ethical conduct in social interactions- not merely with customers, but also with bosses and others in authoritative positions.
Again, many won’t be phased by this. This logic will clearly lead to the conclusion that the writer is lazy, insignificant, and probably ‘bad’ in some form or another. I’ll take that over playing pretend any day. And of course, there are those who actually enjoy being nice to others. Some people get off to making others happy. That’s not the niceism or politeness this article is referring to. That’s just being nice due to individual will and free choice (although lets remember nice/mean are subjective and dependent on different models and individual thought).
This is why I have proposed Rudeness before. Realizing the authentic self in the face of this inauthentic, collective consciousness that can pretty much be summarized as society. To act in a way that truly expresses oneself will oftentimes be deemed as rude, socially unacceptable, taboo. Even if you have to be a(n) *insert self-righteous insult* to others, at least you broke away, even just for a moment, from the inauthenticity that civility oh so loves to indoctrinate people with. Remember, there is no proper way to act beyond that which society or other herdist mentalities construct. Improper behavior, rudeness, authenticity, is merely an expression of true free will. Of the individual trampling the pathetic constructs that lead to superficial, monotonous lifestyles. Don’t be afraid to take off that paper mache mask molded in blatant, unrequited respect. Bare your teeth from time to time. It feels great.
Fuck society and its degradative, monotonous codes of correct-ness.
The wolf does not apologize to the deer.
The deer doesn’t thank the berries.
And the berries just don’t give a fuck.