Remember when I was nicer?

Okay, you probably don’t. That’s probably a trick question, in fact. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been very nice. Because, see, the thing is…this is the thing. The thing is this: there comes a point in everyone’s life when they just decide they’re not going to put up with bullshit. Or, if you will, bull TWADDLE. Because seriously, “bull TWADDLE” is a WAY better phrase than “bullshit”.

Over the past few years, I’ve vacillated between trying to be accommodating, trying to be nice, trying to be civil, and trying to just maintain the smallest amount of politeness I can muster. I mean in *general* here. More and more, though, things seem to be descending to the level they were at in the mid nineties when my internal editor quit and consequently, my peer group was culled.

Aye, here’s the rub – Chaff. Right? It’s terrible, and I don’t REALLY think of people as chaff. Not really. I think everyone is, or at least must be, something really special. But there are some kinds of really special that are simply meant to be enjoyed in the out-of-doors. On the third Sunday in April. For seventeen minutes and four seconds. Eleven of which is spent discussing the weather.

See what I’m getting at? It’s a difficult concept, but …and stay with me here, because I might deke around a bit… not everyone needs to be my friend. Not everyone needs to like me. And, the important…EXTREMELY important corollary here is: I do not need to like everyone, and I do not need to be a friend of everyone. It’s difficult sometimes to admit that you just don’t like someone.

I think that’s because we’re programmed to be *nice*. We’re programmed to always say nice things, and to be polite, and to CHEW WITH OUR MOUTHS CLOSED (I’m looking at you, Iron Troll), and I think that’s okay. I mean, I think it’s good to be basically nice to each other. But that doesn’t mean – and this is where our edumacation has done us wrong, baby. That doesn’t mean we have to LIKE each other.

I can be very nice to someone I wouldn’t choose to hang out with. I can be exceedingly nice to someone I may never see again. I am very often nice to people I don’t really have a vested emotional interest in. Being nice and liking can be, therefore, mutually exclusive.

Jesus, where am I going with this?

My Nama always used to say that I’d reach a time in my life where I just couldn’t be bothered. She said, “I can’t be bothered. You’ll know what that’s like someday. You’ll just get up from the table and clap your hands together and say, ‘well, I just can’t be bothered with that’.” Of course, she was right. I think it may have happened the very next day when I was asked to do some chores I didn’t want to do. It turns out you CAN be bothered, with the right incentive.

This comes down to being secure. Security is important. We need to be accepted. It’s on, like, that dude’s pyramid or whatever. Maslow or King Tut or PJ Skinner or whatever. We need to be accepted. We need to be cared about. But what they don’t teach you in Family Life (or Life Skills or whatever the hell they call it now) is that we don’t need to be accepted BY EVERYONE. We need one or two close relationships. Some of us need more, but most of us are good with one or two. The people you consider your family (or, as TUO once told me, ‘better than family because I chose you’).

And those people with whom you form intimate soul bonds, those people are the ones that you WILL be bothered about. And with. And for. And you’ll choose to do that over and over again because you LIKE them. And you want them in your life. And someday you might get that it’s not about being popular, about being the one who has the most friends or who gets invited to the most parties or who everybody likes to talk to in a room full of people. You might get that what’s important is that you connect. That there’s something *real* there.

And when you get to THAT point, you start to understand that so much of what goes on around us is just…it’s bull twaddle. (Seriously. I want you to say that out loud. Right now. Wherever you are. Just say “bull TWADDLE” and see if you can do it without grinning. No taping your mouth allowed.) So that when you don’t feel like being nice, you don’t have to be nice. When someone pisses you off, you can just say, “dude. That totally pissed me off what you did just there.”

No, I don’t know where I’m going with this. I was just having a moment of not feeling very nice and wanting to call a bunch of people horrible names and tell them all the nasty things their mothers did with letter openers and goat feces, but I chose not to. Because in the end, Facebook will hunt me down and try to get me to purchase gel nails or something.

Oh, and I’m working on National Novel Writing Month. So I’m not around here very much. Um. And how about that Yankee election, hey? Now how the deuce do we get rid of Stephen Harper? And speaking of not being very nice, when everything you see about or from someone on social media makes you grind your teeth, you have a problem. No, no…YOU have the problem. Not the other person. Because the other person has no idea that they’re being a dinksicle.

And that’s the thing about social media. There’s no downtime, really. It used to be that someone would say something or do something and you’d get pissy about it, but then you wouldn’t see them for a couple of weeks and when you did, you’d forgotten it. Not anymore. Now you can keep looking it up over and over and over and over again and reliving all the horrible drama and cattiness. And you can choose to NEVER get over it. So, you know, thanks for that, Internet.

That was an awful lot of words for saying absolutely nothing.

  17 comments for “Remember when I was nicer?

  1. Stephanie
    14 November 2012 at 8:23 pm

    That leads to the joy of “unfriending” or at least adding them to your “no notifications” list. There are people I can handle hearing from a couple of times a year and when I do, I am happy to talk to them. I am also glad when they stop calling because they have gone back to their more interesting friends.

    I am Canadian, just because I am being polite doesn’t mean I want to be friends. Nor does it mean I want to hear about your life or listen to you tell me about your recent illness, your amazing child or anything else while standing in line at the grocery store. I am being polite, don’t push it until I am suddenly (and rudely) NOT polite.

  2. 15 November 2012 at 9:26 am

    The folks I’m the ‘nicest’ to, as in I don’t tell them what I actually think, don’t correct them when they screw up, don’t risk offending them to offer some advice, are the folks that I ‘nothing.’ I don’t hate anyone, I just nothing them.

  3. 15 November 2012 at 10:17 am

    This post has stirred some powerful emotions in me. I must share. I have many things I want to say, but I’ll limit myself to one. There’s a lot to be said for not trying to be popular and not putting love into dead relationships. But beware:

    As we grow old, our circle of friends and family naturally shrinks when those we care about grow apart, move away and die. Anyone can end up lonely in their old age. Why would you choose to accelerate that process?

    • AJ
      19 November 2012 at 3:52 pm

      How does honesty with yourself about your relationships accelerate loneliness? If you find that people don’t mean to you what you thought they did, it allows you to address that issue. Maybe that means no longer engaging with them as much, but it could also mean reaching out to build the relationship.

      Most importantly, and I would hope obviously: you aren’t losing friends if the people aren’t your friends.

  4. Wade L
    15 November 2012 at 11:17 am

    I think there is a fine line between “not putting up with bullshit” and “being an asshole”. Much like the line between “I’m just being honest” and “Being an asshole”.

    I’m not saying you (usually – we all have our moments) fall on the wrong side of that line, but “I don’t put up with bullshit” is just one of those phrases that tends to be followed by someone being an inconsiderate jerk. I guess whether it actually *is* followed by jerkishness or not probably is a matter of perception on whether what they’re dealing with is bullshit or not. ;)

    For myself – I am not very good at making new connections, the process is pretty bloody mystifying. As a result I try to be opportunistic about expanding my friend circle if it seems possible. I also tend to be pretty reluctant to let folks slip out of that circle once they’re in. So I tend to be pretty forgiving because, well, friends are hard.

    This is a big contrast from someone like Vi, who also falls into the “don’t take no bull” thing – she’s very quick to cut folks she sees as feeding her bull because, hey, new friends happen every week, right? I don’t understand.

    • 15 November 2012 at 5:05 pm

      I think what I’m saying is that new friends *don’t* happen every week, and I’m okay with that.

    • Stephanie
      15 November 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Not “putting up with bullshit” doesn’t necessarily mean that I become an inconsiderate jerk. Usually it means I just go away and leave the bullshit behind. =)

  5. arnisador
    15 November 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve already transcended to the point where I just tell people point-blank, “I’m an asshole. Not a fucking asshole, but still an asshole”.

  6. Wade L
    15 November 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Like I said, it isn’t necessarily at all the case that “I don’t put up with bullshit” means someone is a jerk, it is just often also said by jerks.

    It is like how when someone says “I don’t put up with drama”, 80% of the time it means they are constantly surrounded by drama caused by them. ;)

    • 15 November 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Oh GOD. I hear you there.

      Sometimes, though, drama does just happen NEAR you and it draws you in.

    • 16 November 2012 at 12:11 pm

      What is this ‘drama’ you speak of?

      • 16 November 2012 at 12:26 pm

        Like you don’t know.

        Here’s your tiara back.

        • 16 November 2012 at 7:29 pm

          Don’t really know, no. I’m sure it’s happened, but I don’t look at it that way. It’s either something I choose to deal with or something I don’t.

  7. AJ
    18 November 2012 at 4:32 am

    Not all acquaintances are meant to become something more and sometimes friendship is unrequited, despite what people want to believe. Despise at first sight is as real as love at first sight. Why are we encouraged to fight the former but not the latter? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be civil and open to opportunities to grow closer to people, but you should be honest with yourself as to whether or not your criteria for friendship are (or might yet be) met―recognising that as you change, so can those criteria.

    It’s important to spend your energy on the true friendships. Treating everyone as a close friend will leave you exhausted, with a train of people looking for what you’ll give and, sometimes, what they can take beyond that. It’s horrifying where expectation and a sense of social obligation can land you. There are times when the only way to protect yourself is to be not nice. I think that a real friendship should return enough to each that neither resents giving and soften the blows when they call each other’s bull twaddle.

    • 18 November 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Yes. This. Exactly this.

      Thank you.

  8. 20 November 2012 at 1:48 am

    We all have a limited supply of nice. Limited at least by energy, and certainly by time. And you have to decide how to spend it.

    • 20 November 2012 at 9:47 am

      Totally.

      And you totally do chew with your mouth open. I love you anyway. I just…don’t love it when you do that.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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