If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Don’t Say Anything at All

Remember when we were children and we were told by countless sources – our first grade teachers, our parents, a little rabbit in Disney’s Bambi – that if we, even for a fathomable second, could not find a single nice word to say; then to not say anything at all? This advice – intended for us to make friends and not burn bridges at the tender age of five – was at the forefront of our minds in everything we did. We never thought for a minute that everyone who had ever given us that advice might have been guilty of it at some point in their life. We listened to it, or at least in some instances, pretended we did.

Then one day, we wake up and forget that little piece of advice. Something lights a fire within us so hot, so intense that we go back on our teachings of ‘just being nice.’ Somehow with puberty and the advent of social media – and maybe even a lack of empathy – folks in our millennial generation make remarks with no regard for another’s feelings. Not even the bat of an eyelash. And I’ve got to say; it’s getting really old.

The older we get the more we hear things like, “Nice guys finish last,” and “Being nice never got you anywhere,” but have you ever actually known that to be the case? Those clichés are nothing more than tired excuses for being callous and uncouth.

Now, maybe I’m out of line. Maybe I’m just naïve. But I really don’t understand how anyone could not have any clue that their words affect people, or not have any clue that the things they have said or will say are hurtful; or not even care that they hurt someone, for that matter.

We live in a society where even if you greet or compliment someone you hardly know or don’t know at all, you’re looked at like you’ve got three heads. As if to say, “How dare you say something nice to me? You hardly know me!” Are we so immune to niceties that we are, dare I say, offended by them?

What changes in that span of time between adolescence and adulthood that gives us the apparent right to be indecent to another human being? Do we get so hardened with life that it makes no difference if we’re nice, petty, complimentary, or offensive, anymore?

Now, let me all ask you a different question, what is so hard about being nice? About keeping harsh, hurtful words and phrases out of your vocabulary? Maybe your defense is, ‘that’s a childish notion; saying nice things or nothing at all.’ Maybe your defense is, ‘they were mean to me first’ or ‘they started it.’ Well, is that not one of the most childish things you’ve ever heard?

Use that childish advice; practice it in your daily lives. I am so sick of seeing rude responses to rightful opinions and shaming (from body to dog) on Facebook, reading mean tweets, and even hearing someone call another person a name on live TV or in a classroom at college. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a grown and capable adult. Making excuses for being impolite or saying something hurtful is a child’s excuse; an excuse for someone who does not know better.

It really is so simple to just be nice, or to just keep negative comments to yourself. I know for some people it’s easier said than done, but once we start, it won’t be so unheard of for someone to give a perfect stranger a compliment as they walk down the street. It begins with us, practicing what we’ll preach to our future kids, or else the vicious cycle will continue.

So, just to beat it in your head once more:

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