Friday, June 29, 2012

Politeness is the new impoliteness

It's been ages since I last felt like writing here. Since in the last post I mentioned I had a loved one who slipped into a coma, this blog just kept reminding me of that, I didn't want to come back here. Because in October, unfortunately, a pneumonia caused his death.

This was obviously not a pleasant time, especially when his family turned out to be very much in love with his money and the possessions he had had. It's always nasty to see people turn greedy, especially since they had hardly ever been around during his life. In such times it is, for me at least, impossible to be nice to everyone.

And I think that is one of the lessons I learned from the assignment I had given myself when I started this blog. I actually learned quite a lot from this blog, as little as I wrote on it. The experiment lived on, though, just without me writing about it. So did I fail? Yes. Miserably. For the first time since I was 16 I was ill in bed all day one day in the Winter and thus broke the 365 days rule. It was quite the pity, but again: I still have learned so much about myself, other people and even society.

What I learned was, that it is easy to be nice to at least one total stranger a day - provided you are healthy enough to actually make contact with other people, be it in person or online. But: it is virtually impossible to always be nice. What was interesting for me was the why behind that. I thought it was just because some people aren't all that inviting to be nice to - let's say I see a big bald guy with a swastika tattooed in his neck; I wouldn't be able to wish him a lovely day and actually mean it. I'm just not that... Enlightened. And I knew this before I started this little project.

So what did catch me by surprise? I found out that being kind these days is actually rude. Seriously rude. You're sitting there, all by yourself, on a bench, trying to update your facebook status and someone interrupts you by saying: 'Hi!' What the hell did they do that for? Now you're all distracted and you have to pull yourself back together and pretend you didn't hear the passerby, as there can only be one explanation for their friendliness: they need you. They want your money, your time, directions, advice on what time the grocery store closes... Whatever it is: you don't have the time because, flippin' hell, can't they see you are very much in the middle of doing something? Doesn't your whole body shout: 'I am outside, but by all means: I am trying to digitally socialize with people I know, so f*ck you, stranger. All you do is take, take, take.'

And that's probably because indeed, we do want to be left alone by strangers as much as possible. We have all accidentally spoken to some lone walker or straphanger who turned out to want nothing but money or someone to talk to for an entire commute, when we thought they were just going to ask if this indeed is the train to the centre. Polite is the new impolite. That's what I learned. This was kind of a bummer for me, but I still manage to be nice to at least one person a day, as I also learned to realize when being nice isn't seen as an invasion or an attempt to get something in return, but actually as a pleasant break from all the pretending not to be sharing the city landscapes.