I struggled to write and complete this blog entry because I was worried that it lacked focus and cohesion. Also, I couldn’t seem to convey a strong opinion on the chosen topic or even answer many of the questions I posed. But I’ve decided to post it anyway for what it’s worth. My thoughts may appear scattered and my prose may be clumsy, but it’s from the heart…and the middle finger. Sit up when you eat.
Ex-lovers subjecting each other to verbal lacerations that pack more bite than a provoked Pitt Bull. A gang member’s Stink Eye that tells you to back the fuck off or you’ll be missing some pearly whites and your wallet.
And then there’s the selfish bastard responsible for the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person, along with the bruised prostitute who clings perilously to the thimble of self-esteem she has left.
Sometimes real life is so depressing that you find yourself automatically reaching for the whiskey and not noticing how god-awful it tastes. Then the bottle’s dry, and you thirst for happiness. But you’re left with a hangover.
The news is punctuated with so many stories of hatred and corruption that sometimes I think it really is a mad world. And as people, we are disgusting, taking enjoyment in digging up the dirt on others. Why do we do this? How is this adaptive? Why do we like airing out other people’s dirty laundry when we can’t even clean our own?
Hypocrisy is the new virus, and we are all infected.
Our society is drawn to negative sensation like moths to a flame – it’s like some strange addiction where we know the needle hurts, but we still need our fix.
We feast upon juicy gossip like the ridiculous Christian Bale outburst on set or the shockingly tragic way David Carradine died. Jon & Kate Plus 8 becoming Jon Minus Kate Plus 8. Susan Boyle’s hospitalization for exhaustion. Heidi Montag’s public breakdown on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Honey, I could go on longer than the Energizer Bunny.
Is ‘Nice’ a Dish Best Served Cold?
My grade 7 teacher told the class to never use the word ‘nice’ ever again because it carries scant meaning. And when I think about it now, it’s true. Nice has become synonymous with mediocre. It’s not enough to be nice in the School of Hard Knocks. To graduate with honours, you have to make a statement that ends with exclamation marks. Stand out. Be heard. Be different.
Now it’s time to open up the can of worms…
The problem with nice people is that they’re so easily forgettable. And especially in the workplace, they’re the ones who are often overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. You might even say that being nice is for chumps.
North American culture socializes us to ignore and even belittle the shy, quiet one. If anything, we consider them ‘boring’. Well, why do we need people to be a marching band all the time, banging drums like a 2-year-old on kitchen pots? For one, people notice the rabble-rousers more than the church mice.
We can’t ignore the Janice Dickinsons and Simon Cowells of the world. They’re strongly opinionated, rarely apologetic, stubborn as mules, and overflowing with sarcasm. With nice people, you don’t get the snippy remarks, the funny put-downs, or the Shock Factor. You get Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book with a side order of humble pie.
Mean or obnoxious people have an undeniable sense of self-confidence, ooze personality, and fight to attain selfish goals without concern of whose toes they’ve stepped on. They don’t even care how often they have to lie through their coffee-stained teeth to get what they want.
Being an individualistic prick can easily be spun as being a leader, whereas shy violets are often perceived as losers. Yeah, it’s not fair, but the world isn’t fair, so if we don’t do something to bring about some balance, we’re just sucking on a lemon.
Gets Some Edjumacation
I read some snippets from this interesting book called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel. Apparently as girls, we picked up some bad habits (such as smiling inappropriately and presenting statements in a question) that are now impeding our chances of upward mobility at work. Basically we need to say goodbye to the ‘Nice Girl’ standard and get into the role of Assertive Woman.
Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work by Deborah Tannen is another book I want to get my hands on. Among the many key issues outlined, Library Journal emphasizes how “women say ‘I’m sorry’ without actually apologizing and tend to use an indirect manner of speech. These styles make women appear less confident, competent, and professional. However, women who learn to speak like men are accused of being aggressive and unfeminine.”
Obviously tossing out all the Rules of Lady Etiquette isn’t right, either. I’m not suggesting we clip our toenails on the subway while screaming profanities at everyone within earshot. We need to learn not just when to speak up and stand up for ourselves, but more importantly how to do it effectively. And the men out there need to learn how to listen.