How Not To Be Nice
To celebrate the start of winter we’re teaming up with Gearmunk to bring you 12 things that you can do this holiday season to support the women led and powered outdoor ecosystem. For Day 2, we’re looking at why we should stop being nice.
News flash. I’m not a nice person.
This is not going to come as a surprise to many of you who have spent any time with me at all. It’s not what I’m known for, and for good reason.
Being nice is about making other people happy. Nice is comfortable. Nice is how you show up when you don’t want to rock the boat. Nice is about owning other people’s feelings and actions. Nice is how we’re supposed to be.
Nice is just so easy, until you think about the repercussions of it being one of the strongest forms of cultural capital. Niceness maintains social structures. It helps keep things clean, orderly, homogeneous, and controlled.
Niceness requires angry people to shut the f*ck up. Perhaps that’s why I don’t get invited to holiday dinners at anyone’s house anymore.
But I have this hunch that you’re not nice either, even if you come across that way. Because you and I both recognize that we live in a world where you can’t afford to be anything but nice. Because if you’re not, you won’t get that raise. Our that date. Or those Insta likes. Or those sales. You won’t get all of the things that society has promised you, all those things that lead to “happiness."
But let me ask you this: Who benefits from you being nice? What social structures are being upheld?
We want “nice neighbors” so we build walls. And I don’t just mean walls on the border, I mean walls around our neighborhoods designed to keep nice people in and naughty people out.
Oh and it’s not nice to expose the identity of a men boys who harass, abuse, and violate women because shame, his reputation. You musn’t mess with a man’s reputation. All nice girls know that.
Nice is limiting. Nice is dumb. Nice reinforces toxic masculinity and racism and oppression of all kinds. Niceness restricts our agency. It’s is what’s gotten us into this mess in the first place.
Now to be clear, I’m not advocating for people to be jerks. We’ve got enough of those around. I would love to see people be kind.
Kindness is hard. It requires you to do the right thing, with integrity and empathy, even when that makes other people uncomfortable.
It requires you to say what needs to be said. To call people on their shit. If we remain silent then the message that we’re sending is that your outdated, oppressive beliefs are more important than rights and freedoms of people who maybe don’t look like you or behave like you or believe in what you do.
But when you’re kind, you don’t make personal attacks. You don’t call names. You work harder to parse out the people who may have simply fumbled their words, or made a mistake in an effort to do good, from the people who are nasty and show up in this world with an intent to hate and destroy.
Kindness requires you to seek to understand. To ask questions before you put people on blast. To treat people like human beings, even if they appear as fingernail sized profile pic.
But kindness isn’t just about how you treat others. It’s how you treat yourself. You walk with your head high. You surround yourself with people who don’t need an explanation about why you show up in the world the way you do. You understand and value your self worth. You stop trying to please.
This holiday season—and all year long—join me in not being nice, and let’s see how our bold and brave acts transform our lives and the people around us.